05.02.2012, Words by Charlie Jones

Klaus Voormann: The Beatles' graphic artist and close friend

Klaus happened upon an early Beatles show at the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg 1960. He became a regular at the club and one day approached the band with a record sleeve he had illustrated. From this day on he formed a strong relationship with the Beatles, eventually living with George and Ringo in their London apartment.

During this time, Klaus started to perform with the band Paddy, Klaus & Gibson, when in 1965 received a call from John Lennon asking him to design the cover of The Beatles’ next LP.

Klaus explains that “He had the idea that he wanted The Beatles’ hair to be a focus, and in contrast to what was being done by everyone else, he wanted to do a black and white cover” and finally drew the four line drawings of John, Paul, George and Ringo, placing the photos in the drawings.

At the 9th Annual Grammy Awards in 1966, Klaus was awarded the Grammy for Best Album Cover, and Graphic Arts. It was the first time anyone had ever won for a graphic cover.

In 1969 John Lennon asked Klaus to join his and Yoko’s new band, the Plastic Ono Band, which included John, Klaus, Eric Clapton, and Alan White. And Klaus’ musical career continued until the 1990’s when he decided to finish producing and become once again involved with graphic art.

In 1990 Klaus began a book named Hamburg Days. Klaus explains that him and Astrid Kirchherr would “compile their memories of meeting The Beatles in Hamburg during the period from 1960 to 1962.” and create from “memory and with help from Paul McCartney’s recollections, photorealistic oil paintings of events from that time.”

And in 1996 Apple Records asked Klaus to create the images for The Beatles Anthology series. He proposed the idea of “painting The Beatles’ posters in peeling layers from early album covers and posters to later ones, thus showing the progression of the band over the years.”

“One of the projects he is currently working on is Remember Revolver, an LP-size book which will be released to commemorate the anniversary of Revolver. In collaboration with designer Stefan Gandl, Klaus will illustrate all 14 songs from the Revolver album.” Klaus Voormann’s biography.

Klaus has also designed covers for Jimi Hendrix, The BeeGees, The Eyes, Spooky Tooth, Jackie Lomax, Trio, Turbonegro, Wet Wet Wet and Stoppok.

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