Elton John: Original front cover artwork by Ian Beck for the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973, 2

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Lot 75
Elton John: Original front cover artwork by Ian Beck for the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,
1973, 2

Sold for £ 10,062 (US$ 13,669) inc. premium
Elton John: Original front cover artwork by Ian Beck for the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,
1973,
the working tracing/visual for the front panel of the album cover, executed in pencil on fine typographic paper with some additional colour notes in crayon, with trim marks for bleed, signed by the artist in blue ink to the lower right, accompanied by a copy of the album on vinyl, 14¾in x 20¼in (37.4cm x 51.4cm), (2)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    In 1972, Ian Beck had made the front cover illustration for an album by Irish folk/rock singer, Jonathan Kelly, entitled Wait Till They Change The Backdrop, depicting dancers on a stage with a harsh industrial landscape backcloth being lifted to reveal a pastoral landscape beyond. In 1973, Ian was asked to attend a meeting at Rocket Records, when he was told that the record company really liked the Jonathan Kelly album image and they wanted to have it for the cover of Elton's forthcoming album as it, in Ian's words, 'seemed to fit the mood'. Of course, it could not possibly be used again and therefore it was agreed that Ian should come up with some new ideas. Having listened to the master tapes of the yet-to-be-released album, and armed with some lyrics, Ian had about ten days to design and draw the three outer cover panels.

    Working quickly on some initial ideas, Ian's friend and fashion illustrator/designer Leslie McKinley Howell (then known as Leslie Chapman) posed as Elton for some Polaroid reference photographs. Leslie was wearing a vintage baseball jacket and was tall, hence the rather long-legged Elton in the final cover image. Ian delivered his ideas to Rocket Records and an image of Elton stepping onto a yellow brick road was the one chosen to be worked up as the front cover.

    At that time there was a revival of interest in Art Deco American design and graphics and the old Hollywood look. This fed into Ian's imagery, with the inclusion of the shadow of a palm tree and the bonnet of a 1930's car. Ian had also been briefed to include certain things that would please Elton, such as the teddy bear and the piano. There was even a reference back to the Jonathan Kelly cover with the inclusion of an industrial city-scape in the top left-hand corner of the front cover.

    Production of the album itself began in Kingston, Jamaica, but various problems prompted Elton and his band to move to the Château d'Herouville in France, where they had recorded two albums previously. It was recorded in May 1973 and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton's seventh studio album, was released in October that year. It was met with critical and popular acclaim and it reached No.1 in the UK and US charts, remaining there for two months. Widely regarded as Elton's best album, it is his best-selling studio album, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide. In 2003 the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and it was listed at No.91 in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

    In September 2019, the Royal Mail celebrated Elton's career with the issue of a set of eight stamps featuring album covers, including Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton is only the second individual music artist to be honoured in this way, following David Bowie in 2017.

    A donation to the Elton John Aids Foundation will be made from the sale proceeds of this lot.
Contacts
Elton John: Original front cover artwork by Ian Beck for the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973, 2
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