DEF LEPPARD – Part Five
… posted January 14th –
Once again thanks for your comments and e-mails. Some of them about Steve were very touching, especially the one from Lorelei ...
‘Hi Andie, Thank you for your beautiful reflections of your time spent with Steve. I can obviously relate to your sharing of feeling the need to look after him – as I did for over six years. We were blessed to have known him and to have loved him … Steve was loved by so many people … ’
We move on now on to the ‘Hysteria’ singles, an exhibition of DEF LEPPARD art and vinyl in London, the wonderful Juan (the ultimate DEF LEPPARD fan), and a competition to win a large Edition Print of your choice …
People often ask me if I feel nervous or intimidated meeting the Famous. Rarely, and there’s a simple reason. I was in Paul McCartney’s dressing room on the opening night of his first tour in well over a decade. He was generous enough to meet a number of people who were waiting outside his door to meet him. This poor woman, when she came in, was so nervous she was visibly trembling and opened her mouth several times to speak – but the words just didn’t happen. She was mortified. She’d won a competition to meet him and had waited over twenty years to be face to face with her idol. She just didn’t know what to say. What DO you say to Paul McCartney? That’s exactly the reason why I don’t get nervous – I have something to talk about – the project we’re working on. I have to discuss something that’s important, something to focus on that’s not about me or who I’m meeting – there’s a common ground which allows relationships to develop naturally.
I met DEF LEPPARD many times – at Joe’s house in Ireland, in Ibiza at recording sessions, at rehearsals for a tour and in numerous dressing rooms when they were on tour. They were great times but we had work to do and that was a responsibility we all took seriously. As Pete Burns said – ‘It’s an album sleeve, NOT a cure for cancer,’ – but, in the context of creativity and careers, there was a lot at stake. Relationships tend to be intense and you have to get to know people pretty well to get the best results and reach the right decisions. By the time ‘Hysteria’ was completed there was a mutual respect between the band and I which allowed us to push the boundaries of vinyl even further.
The ‘Hysteria’ singles.
I had this idea, when I discovered that the record companies intended to release ‘at least four singles’ from the album, of dividing the album sleeve design into four sections to use on the covers of the four singles. Later I discovered there could be more singles and possibly different song releases in different countries. There was only one way to go – use NINE sections to create a huge 3-foot square version of the album sleeve. ‘Hysteria’ was the first time I had to create artwork for CD’s and I realised the new format could be the death-knell for vinyl. It was a defining moment for me. I hated the CD format, its size, its limited packaging possibilities and most of all I hated how it would destroy a medium I loved – vinyl. I changed direction at that point – we’ll come to that soon – but I knew for the ‘Hysteria’ singles I had to come up with something that had never been done before and would probably never be done again. The idea was a defiant celebration of 12” vinyl before its anticipated demise. It became a serious mission and I was determined to do whatever it took to get the idea off the ground.
To design a ‘set’ of singles before the first one was released was a real challenge – especially not knowing how many there would be or what they would be – but I knew the idea was good. If there were problems we’d find a way to make it happen. I showed the band the idea and they loved it. We decided that the ‘missing’ sections not allocated to singles should become part of an Edition Box Set when the last single was released. With massive support for the idea from Peter Mensch, he persuaded the record companies to go with the idea despite the huge cost of production. It is hard now, in our digital download age, where designs only stretch to pixel widths, to imagine a market where the importance of of vinyl allowed inspirational ideas to flourish and where the production of singles could be so extravagantly experimental.
I didn’t realise it at the time but I’d taken on a logistical nightmare. Not only were songs released in different territories in a different order and with different release dates – in different territories the single’s sleeve-art was not even the same size. (You would think, wouldn’t you, that 12” and 7” singles formats would be consistent? – but they weren’t.) There wasn’t a huge difference but enough to mean each division into nine sections had to be re-figured to suit each territory – to make sure they all fitted together perfectly. Earlier I told you how I had no idea where that ‘screaming head’ came from but, believe me, there were times I thought it was some kind of weird premonition of how I would actually feel (and look!) during the project. (see NB at end of blog to get to grips with the release complications)
I was involved in an exhibition early this year in London, celebrating the history of vinyl and, for the first time, I actually put all nine sleeves between two sheets of clear perspex and displayed the giant album as the centre-piece of the show. It looked fantastic …
Ok … it’s FanTime …
During the exhibition at the A&D Gallery (more on the gallery when the Blog enters the bizarre and hilarious world of the WALT DISNEY Corporation) a new benchmark was set to define ‘Serious Fan’ – Juan is loyalty and dedication personified. I met him at the gallery and he had a wonderful story to tell …
Juan lived in Madrid. He saw the exhibition advertised but there were only a few days left to get to England before the show closed on the Saturday. He was working so couldn’t leave until Saturday morning. He phoned his English friend who lived in London to ask if he could stay with him for the weekend, bought a plane ticket and flew to London. So …. Juan arrived and said to his friend … ‘I have to go to this exhibition.’ … ‘Where is it?’ said the friend … Juan checks on the website. ‘Chiltern Street, West One,’ he says … ‘No’ says his friend, ‘you’re confused Juan – Chiltern Street is where I live. That’s where you are now. Where’s the gallery?’ … Juan double-checks. ‘Chiltern Street. West One.’ he confirms. Impossible to believe but the only friend Juan had in London lived ten doors away from the exhibition. It doesn’t get better than that does it? What are the chances of such a co-incidence? Nada. It’s people like Juan who are the key to maintaining what I believe my work is all about – being true to the loyal fans and inspirational enough to impress new ones. Here he is …
With that in mind we get to …
A poster edition of your choice (16 x 20ins) and 5 cards
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 11 x 15.5ins) and 5 cards
A mounted edition of your choice (image: 8 x 11ins) and 5 cards
What are your best fan stories? I’m not only talking about Def Leppard fans – but other performers’ fans too. The best 10 – the weirdest, funniest and most impressive will be posted on a special blog in January when the winner is selected. Whoever wins can choose a 16 x 20ins edition of their choice from my website. Here are just two of them … both new – after such great reactions from the ones on last weeks blog which showcased original drawings and sketches from my archives.
THE JUDGES …
All entries will be judged by a team of eminent professionals – high-flyers in the music industry – who will decide on the winner with objectivity, clarity and with a deep sense of responsibility … Oh sorry – what I meant to say is that the winner will be chosen by me, my Blogmeister Ricky and that weird couple Max and Rewa down the pub. Think of our team as Simon Cowell but with a more generous spirit and a much better sense of humour.
‘Comment’ your story on the blog or e-mail me from my website.
Make sure you state which Edition you would like to win.
Competition ends 20th January 2010.
One more DEF LEPPARD to go – ‘Adrenalize’ and ‘Euphoria’ … then we will begin working on World Tours (THE ROLLING STONES, GUNS’N’ROSES, PAUL McCARTNEY and others) with the enigmatic Gerry Barad.
DEF LEPPARD – Part Five
… posted January 14th –
See Monday’s post for details of some stuff I’ve released from the archives to auction in London next week (including a few rare DEF LEPPARD originals and a painting I did in 1996 of MICHAEL JACKSON). In a couple of days, I will post the Indian story I promised you about Imagination.
Stay well … keep your eyes peeled for a flurry of blogs next week … &ie
It did my head in just reading these stats (supplied by Mark from the DEF LEPPARD fan club – thanks Mark). It’s no wonder I had to ask Mark for the configurations – I just couldn’t remember. Now I know why!
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
1 = no single available
2 = Hysteria
3 = Love Bites
4 = Armageddon It
5 = Animal
6 = Women (US only)
7 = no single available
8 = Pour Some Sugar On Me
9 = Rocket (Europe only, but UK had different, non-segment sleeve)
The special limited 12″ edition of “LOVE BITES”: the limited edition of that release had the 12″ sections of 1, 3 (Love Bites itself, obviously), 6 (since the UK did not have a release for “WOMEN”), 7, and 9 (some countries released this as “ROCKET”).