Thursday, June 14, 2007

Brian's New Tour Programme

Programme? Yup. It was intended to be sold exclusively in Europe, but they decided to make it available in the U.S. too. Below are the front and back covers (stacked up)

You should be able to grab one on Brian's website soon. Here's a few preview page spreads below (click on the images to see 'em bigger)

There's a bunch of new and old shots and I had Brian's ol' friend Harvey Kubernik do an awesome new "inner-view" (also, look for this month's MOJO mag with Harvey's "Monterey Pop Festival" article) I dug up some amazing older shots over at Capitol Records. One of my favorite ones in the booklet is the one below of Brian at P.O.P. (Pacific Ocean Park) and there are a few surprises inside too: How 'bout an actual advertisement for The Radiant Radish?

My 1st update in a few months? I actually attempted to log in earlier last month, but forgot my password and user name. Today I logged in without thinkin' and hit it on the first shot!

Oh yeah...last month I ran into an old friend of mine, Nigel Mogg. Nige sent me this photo (below) of a SMiLE tattoo that a friend of his had gotten. He's an actor/musician named Drake Bell

I've seen a few SMiLE logo tattoo's, and I've also included another one (below) that I found last year. Man, it's one thing to see your art bootlegged on an album or shirt, but quite another thing to see it on someone's skin! If you have one yourself or know a friend that has one, send me a shot of it: See ya soon!

Monday, March 26, 2007

George Barris Place

Well, it was a groove. Domenic Priore and I went down there and met up with 1/3 of the Wondermints: The great Nicky Wonder & Darian Sahanaja. We also ran into Art Fein and my good friend (and amazing cartoon artist) Patrick Owsley. Domenic's new book "Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock'N'Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood" will finally be out in June.

ABOVE: The King with Councilman Tom LaBonge being hoisted up in a crane to unveil the new street plaque seen in the first photo at the top.

BELOW: Cool new mural done for the event. I was told that there was gonna be a faux Batcave constructed in that location and the Batmobile would be seen haulin' ass outta there at some point just like the opening of the TV show. So much for rumors. I guess it was cheaper to just paint it instead!

BELOW: all I can say's the thought that counts! However this does give us a good idea what it could've looked like if Richard Belzer had been originally cast as Robin!

BELOW: The closest to Zombo I'll ever get...

BELOW: The closest to The Monkees Nicky will ever get...(but if they ever have another reunion, I hope they're sharp enough to have his number around!)
BELOW: (found on a sampler of things) If Wondermints ever get their own TV show...

I'm not sure of the exact list of who else attended. Of course Brett, George's son who I'd mentioned was Brett's sister Joji. We saw Nancy Sinatra pulling around the front of the shop, but I didn't see her at the event. Eric Estrada was there, but that's about all I can remember. All in all, it was a great day and maybe Huell Howser will finally take notice and do one of his "California's Gold" features on George. I personally wrote Howser a letter explaining that Barris' shop is basically the "Willy Wonka" factory of Hollywood auto history, but I got a generic form reply in, to them I say; get a clue, clues are free! OK back to work & see ya soon.
~ ML ~

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Here we come..walkin' down the street: "Barris Place" that is!

Well, Rodney got his due last week and now another living piece of California's Gold; George Barris will have a street named in his honor this week. In case you think don't know who the King of Kustom me, you know his work.
Start with the Batmobile, The Munster's Coach & Dragula...and then I'll let you have fun doing your own google-fest.

Here's the 411:

TOLUCA LAKE – Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge is pleased to announce a very special ceremony on Friday, March 23 honoring the King of the Kustomizers, George Barris, and the Barris family business, Barris Kustom City. Please join Councilman LaBonge and Master of Ceremonies Fritz Coleman as they unveil and christen George Barris Place, and as they honor the most famous kustom auto designer and builder of celebrity cars in the world.

Expected to attend the dedication will be some of the stars Barris created cars such as Bo Derek, John Corbett, Adam West, John Schneider, Nancy Sinatra, Dan Haggerty, Karen Kramer, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), James Barren and Mamie Van Doren, just to name a few. Paul Casey, official Elvis of Las Vegas and two-time Entertainer of the Year, will perform Elvis’ greatest hits as a tribute to Barris, a long time personal friend of Elvis Presley. Barris built several movie cars for Elvis. The dedication will take place at 1 p.m. at Barris Kustom Industries, 10811 Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake.

Aside from fiberglass fabrications, Barris is also known for his Boss paint jobs. The "Barris Gold" is his signature color, and he's most renowned for his "scallops" rather than his flames. A scallop follows the line of the body and ends in a sharp point.
One of George's most legendary scallop jobs could be found on the back of a Porsche Spyder that was owned (and fatally un-owned) by the original Brad Pitt...a guy named James Dean.
Below is a shot of "The King and I" taken by Hal Lifson at his first "1966!" book signing at Bookstar in Studio City. At that signing we also had Batman himself: Adam West present along with Barris to sign some books (L.A. locals will sadly notice our dearly departed Sav-On in the background) You shoulda seen the look on the local policemen's faces when they saw the '66 Batmobile parked out front of the store, it was right out of a Candid Camera episode!
I went to High School with Brett Barris, George's son...this comes in handy when you just happen to need an original Batmobile on short notice...Thanks Brett & George!

One of my favorite Barris creations (also my all-time favorite movie poster seen above) is the ZZR surfmobile from the (1966 of course!) film "Out Of Sight" dig this -
Also of note to Beach Boys fans, George did a little something for the guys too (below)
BELOW: Beach Boys Buggy Kustom Cars Sticker #38
Text description written on back of the card:

From one of the biggest national contests Capitol Records ever has evolved 22 Kandy striped mini Coppers for the Beach Boys. Hub caps are made of their gold records. Red and white Kandy striped fur interior, top and curtains make this Barris special a real eye-opener.So there ya go.
Be there or be aware! I won't be posting much for the next coupla months, it's time to start on Brian's 2007 tour book and I'll be buried under e-mail's, photos, coffee and deadlines.

Until then, keep it real! ~ ML ~

In memory of our beloved Tower Records on the Sunset Strip, which went the way of Wallich's Music City this year, here's my moment from 2004. A sight that all album designers and bands throughout the years used to look forward to seeing. I'm proud to have been a part of that tradition...and just in time!
photo by Dennis Loren

Friday, March 2, 2007

Rodney on the Walk: It's All Happening!

On March 9th 2007 the Mayor of the Sunset Strip will have conquered Hollywood Blvd. too!

I was asked by my pal Rodney Bingenheimer to create the concert poster for the evening gig at the Music Box theatre to celebrate his new position on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Here's is the official announcement from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce:
WHO: Rodney Bingenheimer, Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, President/CEO Leron Gubler
WHAT: 2,330th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
WHERE: 7021 Hollywood Boulevard
WHEN: Friday, March 9, at 11:30 a.m.

A few years ago, Chris Carter gave me the chance to design my first movie poster (above) for his and George Hickenlooper's documentary on Rodney "Mayor of the Sunset Strip". It's a beautiful poster with a silver mirror foil-stamped logo. These were only given out at the June 17th 2003 premier of the film at the Hollywood Cinerama Dome. I also designed the soundtrack sampler CD package, a promo folder, a button and the passes for the after-party event.

Unfortunately when the film was finally sold to First Look Media, I wasn't even given a shot at the art for the world release:

Them (read with lisp): "Well, we want to use someone who specializes more in movie posters"
Me (with "get a clue" frustration): "That's called an artist sir. If I make the graphic square, it's an album, if I make it long, it's a movie know, like my poster that you have framed in your front office!"

Anyway, his nephew or his friend probably got the gig or something. To me, the final art (look it up yourself) ended up looking like some kind of Clockwork Orange Halloween party. A little sour grapes? Nope. I'm happy with the work I did, I just think I should've been given a fair chance at the new package. That said, Rodney can still be heard on KROQ (106.7 FM in Los Angeles) every Sunday night, and I believe on the net too.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A real American Idol...and a Grammy for The Klezmatics!

If I could have a quarter for everyone who came to America inspired by Woody Guthrie's words & music, and another from everyone who came to Southern California inspired by Brian Wilson's get the idea!
Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to create an album package (above) for an amazing group of versatile and talented musicians called The Klezmatics.
I had the pleasure to work with Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter (yup, Arlo's sister...which reminds me, let's add another quarter for everyone who went to Alice's Restaurant from hearing & seeing Arlo!) Nora found a treasure trove of lost 1940's & 50's lyrics written by her father in a storage trunk. The words where all inspired by Woody's love of his family and his unique surroundings from the time they lived in Coney Island (a famous beach town in Brooklyn, N.Y.) The title of the album, Wonder Wheel, is named after the gargantuan ferris wheel in the amusement park. Nora ran into one of the band members of the Klezmatics at a concert, and the result of that meeting is this amazing CD, which I am proud to say, just won a 2007 Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary World Music Album"
It was truly an honor to work on this one.
It shot me straight back to Kindergarten, when an old folk singer gave us a concert in our auditorium at Carthay Center School. On that amazing 1965 afternoon, "This Land Is Your Land" was spiritually implanted into my being, and I still feel a sort of warm safety whenever I hear it.
Nora gave me full access to her family's photo archives and her father's own hand-written lyric sheets. Talk about American musical history! The Klezmatics' manager Dan Efram found a perfect folk-artist named Steve Keene who did the cover painting (actually it's a mix of 4 different paintings...but that's where I come in!) and interior paintings of Coney Island. The archival photos were mind-blowing. For Woody's fans, there are many rare/unseen shots in the booklet. I actually wanted the outer cover to be a 3-D digipac with the frame around the painting and the brush strokes raised up with embossing to look like an actual hand-painted piece of art. Who knows, there may have been 2 Grammys won, but the budget wasn't there and I have no control over that aspect of the business. That said, I'm still very proud of it, and very artistically fulfilled to have "worked" with the great Woody Guthrie!

Congratulations to Nora, The Klezmatics, their manager Dan Efram, and JMG's David McClees.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The shameless freedom of promoting pals, part two...

What can be said about my pal Andrew Sandoval?
Well...let's start here and then go there! Then go straight to Amazon and grab one of his CD's...33 the best of Andrew is a perfect place to start. Andrew can also be heard on his radio show "Come To The Sunshine" on Mondays from 4-6 (PST)
I whipped up the piece you see above as a little nod...Oh, alright...a direct rip-off, of the old "93 KHJ Boss hitlist" that we used to grab at the legendary Wallich's Music City on Sunset & Vine.

Aside from being the foremost authority on The Monkees ,
Andrew is one of, if not my favorite singer/songwriters on the local scene. Andrew and his better half Wendy are one of the nicest and most factual couples I've ever encountered (he's an archival author, she runs an L.A. Library!) Together we are bold Disneyland freaks, and regularly inhabit the park. No, we haven't yet brought scented candles & incense to the statue of Walt & the Mouse...(Phil Hendrie fans will get that) but we do have our annual passes. Whenever I'm questioned about this, I find myself saying the same thing: where else can you flee from your work, drive for 35 minutes and be on a Rocket Ship, a River Boat, A Haunted House, and a Steam Locomotive?

Luxuria Music's own co-founder Eric Bonerz is also a member of the Magic Kingdom Underground, and I myself found a wealth of inspiration for the SMiLE album just by strolling down Main St. U.S.A. or to be more truthful, obsessing over the most minute imagineered details that you'd never understand...or would you? Are of us?

A moment of glory...around 7 seconds worth!

This photo (OK vid-grab) above is one of my most treasured moments: It's my good self and one of the founding fathers of Pop Art, Sir Peter Blake.

While in London (no relation) for Brian's first live performance of SMiLE, I had the honor of meeting Sir Peter backstage. It never ocurred to me at the time to ask someone to snap a shot of us, because this night truly belonged to Brian, Van Dyke & the band. Our entire meeting only lasted for around 10 minutes. Much to my surprise, when the "Beautiful Dreamer" DVD arrived, a friend called and told me to check out our drummer Jim Hines' backstage interview and I'd find a little something cool in the background...sure enough, there we are (for like 4 seconds) discussing the art for Bri's (then) upcoming album Getting In Over My Head...I can't actually recall our entire conversation, but I do remember when I introduced myself as Brian's graphic artist, he said "oh, very good!...then we shall collaborate for the new album?" to which I said something like "Well, I have to admit, I've seen what you did with Sgt. Pepper, I think you're quite capable of doing an album without me!" However, he kindly insisted I be involved (I did all but the cover) and is seen above showing me his sketches and sharing his vision for the album cover.

The biggest thrill, was seeing Sir Peter wearing my art on his backstage pass. Anyhow, like lightning, the moment was brief but there 'tis!

FYI; most of the images here in the blog are clickable if you wanna go "super-size"

~ ML ~

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The shameless freedom of promoting pals, part one...

Even though this is my new home on the range, I believe in putting others first. I never forget the people who have helped me in my career and those I've had the honor of collaborating with on various projects.

First up is my Buddy Hal Lifson.

No, I didn't design his website, but definitely pay Hal a visit and browse around, maybe buy some custom coin holders! One of Hal's little side-gigs is representing the
Quikoin company. Remember these?
Above is a design I did around 5 years ago to get Hal going with his first order. I still have a few laying around for $5 ea. E-mail me if ya want one.

Hal was managing Nancy Sinatra when I first met him at Rodney Bingenheimer's table at Cantor's in the year 2000. We started talking. Hal told me he dug the "Brian on the Sunset Strip" poster that I'd done for the Roxy gig that year.

He asked if I would I like to do one for Nancy's upcoming gig with Eric Burdon (below)

It turned out Hal & I had a lot in common; he was raised in Encino, and I went to Jr. High & High School there at Cal Prep...actually across the street from Hal's childhood home.
We soon became close friends. The '66 book was actually born one Sunday evening while walking through the Disneyland parking lot (Hal, myself and his beautiful wife Brigitte) Hal just blurted out "Ya know buddy, I was looking through my stuff at home this week and everything I worship has "copyright 1966" written on it!" About a week after that, Hal ran into his childhood friend Jeff Stern. It just so happened that Jeff had recently acquired a book publishing company called Bonus Books. Hal told him about our idea, and voila...project 1966 began to take shape. I designed the cover of the book (with my own special nod to Wham-O in the design of Hal's name) and I scanned many of the images in there (the clean ones of course!) If you're a 60's art fanatic, especially if you happen to have born in Southern California like I was, Hal's book is a must own. When was the last time you saw that amazing diamond shaped KCOP logo?!

I had a blast finding and scanning the images for this project. One memory that stood out, was I won a '66 LIFE magazine on good ol' E-Bay. The seller was out in Ohio...and to my Twilight Zone surprise, when I finally got the mag in the mail, I read the address label and I couldn't believe it...the address was exactly across the street from where I was working on the Toluca Lake, California. So I took it over the neighbor's home and knocked on the, it wasn't from their family's old subscription, but from the Doctor that they had bought the home from in 1967. He passed away shortly after they bought it, and said they'd just been talking about him the day before I came over!

Supernatural? Perhaps.
Baloney? Perhaps not!

Speaking of The Monkees...stay tuned for shameless promotion of pals part two: Andrew Sandoval.

London Calling...

Working mainly as a "print" artist (posters, books, albums, DVD's etc...) this is really a new avenue for me. I've been digging other folks' stuff here for a while now and decided it may be time for to plunge into the "Bold World of Blog" myself. I really don't know where to begin here!

In this blog, I hope to show you to the many faces and places I've worked with/for visually throughout the years, and I'll be getting to that ASAP.

Many of you may know me by my graphic work for the man who invented California as we know it... no, not Schwarzenegger, I'm talking about the great Brian Wilson.

I've been doing Brian's tour posters, programs...or programmes for my UK pals, album art & more since 1999. Now I know what Prince meant about that 1999 party...and mine began in the Wiltern Theatre parking lot on October 23rd, when I did my first poster for Brian (below)

It's hard not to be confined to the label "poster artist" and although I'm proud of my work in that field, I wanted to take my art to another level. I had the perfect opportunity to do that for last year for Brian's Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary gigs he did with Al Jardine. I was able to do a 12" 1966 Brian figure, and it came out awsome. My pal Eric Thomas from Robert Kaufman fabrics was huge help in finding me the scaled-down black watch plaid we needed for Brian's '66 pants.

When we got the first prototype figure, Bri's wife Melinda brought one up to show Brian in his music room and said "Who's this Bri?" Brian said "Hey, that's me! I was around 24 years old here!"

The signed limited edition of 300 sold out quickly (I only got one myself!) I think there's still a few of the un-signed edition still available on Brian's site.

ABOVE: I had Bri sign the boxes in a few sessions. He was a real trouper. Here we are after sound check in his dressing room the day before the Nov 1st UCLA gig.

So, back to why I created this page...I've never really had my own showcase or anything resembling a portfolio on the web before, mainly because I've been fortunate enough to be working steadily since I decided to try and make a living at the very thing that pissed off so many of my teachers....drawing on my homework. Not much has changed there, accept now I draw on other people's Rhino records, 20th Century Fox & anyone else who might see fit to have me color their world. I guess the closest thing I've ever had to showing my stuff, would be my old pal Stuart's Poster Planet website. Stuart has been with me since 1999, the very beginning of my poster career...a career kick-started by way of strong suggestion from my own personal Jedi-type art mentor (below)
Dennis Loren.

Dennis and I met in 1997, and began working together in 1998 and in '99 he engouraged me to design my first concert poster. Also via Dennis, I was also able to meet and hang out with many of my graphic artist idols like Stanley Mouse, Lee Conklin, David Singer and an amazing cat who I'm proud to have spent many hours with, brother Gary Grimshaw (I'll do a special feature about Gary in a future post) Gary and his wife Laura are a couple of great souls.

ABOVE: "Rock Art Heaven (on Earth)"
L to R: Gary Houston, Dennis Loren, Gary Grimshaw, Myself, Lee Conklin, Stanley Mouse, Jim Phillips, David Singer, and the late Allen Cohen (publisher of the original San Francisco Oracle)
2002 TRPS (The Rock Poster Society) event in San Francisco.

I also want to give a shout out to Joe Weiss who published my first bunch of posters while I was working at his record store, and the great Marco Almera who told me how to approach concert promoters about even doing a gig didn't work that first time though...nobody at the Wiltern Theatre would give me any info about Brian's people, but thank God that didn't stop me from doin' it anyway!

That said, I'm gonna try and make some visual sense in this page. Bear with me here, I'm not exactly "web-guy" so this should be an interesting undertaking. Until the next post, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite authors, the legendary Hunter S. Thompson;

"Call on God, but row
away from the rocks!"