Thursday, April 19, 2007


From the "R.Crumb newsletter"

The History of Cheap Thrills

Crumb illustrated both sides of the Cheap Thrills album in the summer of 1968 as a favor to Janis (who he had recently befriended in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood where both Crumb and the band lived) and also because Crumb needed the $600 dollars Columbia records promised to pay him. Of course, by the time they requested him to do it, it was needed immediately, so Crumb was required to pull an all-nighter to finish the job. However, Columbia decided to scrap the original cartoon/caricatures which Crumb drew for the cover, and use what Crumb originally intended as the back of the album for its front cover. They reduced the "Cheap Thrills" masthead and moved it over to make room for the Columbia record logo. Also, Big Brother recorded a song called "Harry" (as a play on words making fun of the then popular Hare Krishna movement) which was to be included on the album, but at the last moment, a decision was made to cut the song from the album. Crumb had originally drawn the East Indian announcing the song "Harry" and its credits, but that was changed to "Art: R. Crumb" and pasted on unevenly.

Later, the original artwork, which rightfully belongs to Crumb, was never returned to him, and was “removed” from Columbia’s archives and sold on Sotheby’s twice since the late 60’s. It’s no wonder Crumb has mixed feelings about this illustration, a commercial job where he not only lost creative control, but the actual artwork itself. Incidentally, I don’t think it speaks well of Sotheby’s to sell the artwork for a second time after they had been informed it was stolen artwork the first time they sold it, but that’s another story.

The background for the East Indian panel was inspired by a pack of camel cigarettes.

Janis insisted upon placing the Hells Angels logo on the album cover, as she was buddies with a bunch of them at that time.

Alexander Wood, 2007

What's up at YouTube: Summertime
Retro babe
Panzer T-4
Pzkpfw IV's served in the post war Romanian army as the T-4, seen here at a parade in 1946.
Not my people
Not my war

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