Alan Aldridge truly shaped the graphic style of the 60s and 70s, being declared by John Lennon in 1968 as "His Royal Master of Images to Their Majesties The Beatles" and earning two Grammy nominations for album covers featuring his revolutionary illustrations.
Born in London in 1943, Aldridge left school at the age of fourteen to work as a labourer in London’s East India docks. A few jobs on and he was painting scenery at the Old Vic theatre, something which gave him a taste for an artistic future.
With no formal art training, he got his first job in the creative world by pretending his girlfriend’s portfolio was his own.
By 1965 he had become the art director of Penguin Books and his illustrative worked gained notoriety in the creative world of sixties London.
“It's very seductive, going into that magic world where any image you conjure up can hang out and converse with you, but I've always found my way back to reality”
His Royal Master of Images to Their Majesties The Beatles
In 1968 Aldridge was employed as a consultant to The Beatles’ Apple Corps empire. His imaginative designs and intoxicating colour-rich images captured the dreams and hallucinations of a generation; in The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, on album covers for The Who, Cream and Elton John, and on the notorious Chelsea Girls poster for Andy Warhol. In the 1970s he produced bestselling children’s books such as The Butterfly Ball & The Grasshopper's Feast and The Peacock Party, as well as the logo for the Hard Rock Café.
In 1975, Aldridge’s illustration for Elton John's album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy pictured the singer and his piano surrounded by a menagerie of extraordinary creatures, and won Aldridge a second Grammy nomination.
“Alan delivered a visual package beyond my wildest dreams for Captain Fantastic”
Aldridge moved to Los Angeles in 1980 where he continued to work as an illustrator, animator, author and film maker but he left an indelible mark on London’s cultural history.
In 2008 the Design Museum in London put on a retrospective of his work titled The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes. Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum said at the time:
“Alan Aldridge is a remarkable talent: part Aubrey Beardsley, part rock star, responsible for some of the most memorable images of his time, the Design Museum is proud to present the first retrospective of Aldridge’s work in his home country.”
He died in February 2017, age 73.
“Before my generation Britain was in the knacker’s yard”