OUR STORY / Alan Aldridge
From 1969 to 2017, Rob shares his memories of Alan Aldridge (8 July 1938 – 17 Feb 2017) to mark the end of a truly wonderful artist's life.
In 1969 I was at art college, studying graphic design, but also enjoying the life of a student. The boozing, the parties and of course the music. I had musical heroes, particularly The Beatles and Dylan. I also had art heroes, particularly Peter Blake and Alan Aldridge (who along with Philip Castle and H.R. Giger ranks among the world’s greatest exponents of the air brush). His book, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, was a must have when it was published in 1969; my girlfriend at the time bought a copy for me.
Dog-eared and falling apart though it was, my copy of the book was still my prized possession when, at the beginning of this century, I got to meet my hero. I was at the stuttering start of my journey into the print publishing business, and Alan was living in London’s Crouch End. I got in touch with him and we had a very enjoyable and slightly drunken meal together at a fish restaurant that he loved.
I had taken the book with me for reference, and at the end of the meal asked him to sign it. He decided that we were on the road to riches together and wrote words to that effect which, along with his signature, became an embellishment of the title page that I will always treasure.
Afterwards we agreed to publish four of his most famous illustrations. They were fabulous, and all featured in The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics; John Lennon’s There’s a Place, Ringo Starr’s Yellow Submarine, George Harrison’s Blue Jay Way and the illustration of Paul first printed in The Observer in 1967.
The project we had discussed never actually took off, but we kept in touch and many years later I finally got to publish his work. By then Hypergallery was well established and our focus was very specifically on album covers. It struck me that his celebrated album art was still unpublished as limited editions.
Alan was living in Los Angeles by then and after many early evening conversations Hypergallery and he were set to publish editions of Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and The Who’s A Quick One. They were to be printed on demand in LA so, when fate intervened last month and Alan so sadly died, only a small percentage of each edition had ever been printed. We are left with a small number of prints, a cherished last consignment signed with a flourish by a talented and charismatic man.
Alan Aldridge rocked.