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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gary Burden: 1933 - 2018

"Best Art Direction on a Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package"
Jenice Heo, Gary Burden and Neil Young

Grammy Award Pre-telecast Ceremony, Los Angeles, Jan 31, 2010
Photo by Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Gary Burden, music album designer, long time collaborator and "friend for life" of Neil Young, has passed away. Gary was 84, according to a statement by Neil Young.

Gary Burden -— who is best known for designing some of rock’s most iconic album covers, including Young’s On the Beach and Joni Mitchell’s Blue -— has known and worked closely with Young for decades. In 2010, Neil Young won his first Grammy Award for best art direction on a boxed or special limited edition package by Gary Burden and Jenice Heo for the boxed set “Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972).”


From a statement by Neil Young:
"My friend for life, Gary was my art director, creating album covers with me for almost 50 years, beginning with After the Gold Rush and ending with Paradox and Roxy, my next two albums.

I still have some covers for unreleased albums that we made together. They are coming. We probably made 40 covers. I lost count. In the last twenty, thirty or so years, Gary has worked alongside his talented and beautiful wife, Jenice, at R. Twerk & Co, as we have continued on a life-time of making album covers, laughing, loving acoustic music and so many other things. My heart is heavy."
(See more on Full statement by Neil Young on death of Gary Burden.)

In an exclusive interview on Human with Gary Burden of R.Twerk & Co., the artist, art director, and designer talks about his journey along the Human Highway.

Gary Burden
Apple Presentation
(Click photo to enlarge)

Here's an interesting snippet:
Q: Besides the archives, a favorite Neil album design of yours?

Gary Burden: My favorite album cover that I have made, ever, is Neil Young’s “On the Beach.” This cover is loaded with information! From the styles of clothing and objects to the Coors can to the headline of the newspaper of the day of the photo shoot.

My final “gift” to the viewer/consumer was printing the tacky floral designs inside the sleeve.

That one blew the mind of the record company. Not in a good way!
(Complete interview on Human with Gary Burden.)

"On The Beach" -- the final link of Neil Young's Ditch Trilogy -- is considered by many fans to be one of his best and their most favorite of all Neil Young album covers and artwork. Designed by Gary Burden, photographed by Bob Seideman, and graphic lettering by Rick Griffin, the cover is quite enigmatic with a Cadillac car fin jutting from the sand like a crashed rocket being buried by time. A shoeless Neil stares out into the ocean near a forlorn potted palm. A jaunty yellow beach umbrella matches Neil's jacket. The yellow theme is even continued with a Coors beer can on the table. Inside the album, things become even more crpytic with the album's liner notes.

10 Gary Burden Album Cover Designs:
(Thanks !)

1. Neil Young - On The Beach
2. Neil Young - Time Fades Away
3. David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name
4. The Eagles - One Of These NIghts
5. Neil Young - Mirror Ball
6. Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk
7. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu
8. Neil Young - Dreamin' Man
9. The International Harvesters - A Treasure
10. Crosby, Stills, Nash - Crosby, Stills, Nash

From Gary Burden's website -- which has a wealth of details on the making of NYA -- here are a few snippets:
"It may have been 20 years in the making but it was one of the most enjoyable and collaborative projects I've ever worked on.

I have been working with Neil on album covers since his release of After the Gold Rush in 1970. I would listen in on Neil's recording sessions, I mean really listen to the music, and most of the time the music will tell me what the design wants to be. I'd present my ideas to Neil, and he'd give me his own ideas and feedback, and we would incorporate both into the album design.

Neil is a prolific writer and a has great vision. It's nice to collaborate with someone that doesn't do design, they see beyond the boundaries we put on ourselves and push us further. Neil doesn't understand the concept of "we can't do that," and his ideas almost always end up being right.

Neil had the idea for the Archives 20 years ago, back in 1989. At first, the Archive was going to be all of his work up until 1989, but as we worked with our archivist and gathered more and more material, we realized we would have to break it down into periods. We just had too rich a volume of visual material and music. When we started to think about how to present it, we quickly realized there just wasn't the kind of technology back then to fully implement Neil's vision.

We waited for CD's to come out, and then we realized that they wouldn't be what we needed. When DVD's were first introduced, we thought for sure we hit the jackpot, but even that wasn't enough. When Blu-Ray was launched we knew we had what we needed technologically to tell this story."

There are many other fascinating insights into the designing of NYA on Gary Burden's website including details on the box graphic art, the poster, the stash box, and book. Also, see YouTube video of Gary & photographer Henry Diltz discussing their work together.

In addition to recognizing Burden, his wife Jenice Heo created the box top art.

Neil Face With Hand
by Jenice Heo

Interview: Gary Burden (Album Cover Artist) on World Cafe: Sense of Place - LA

Lots of Neil comments @ ~19:00.
Travel Through Laurel Canyon With Album Cover Artist Gary Burden

Check out this video of an unusual interview today with Art Director and album cover artist Gary Burden as he takes us up and down laurel canyon and discusses his experience living there in the 60s and 70s. After meeting Mama Cass Elliot in the mid-sixties (she hired him to design her kitchen) he began to design album covers - first for The Mamas and Papas then Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, Steppenwolf and many many Neil Young albums. If you are of a certain age you own his work. We drive thru Laurel Canyon where he and everybody else in the music scene, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Frank Zappa all lived very near each other, many on Lookout Mountain. An insider’s look at Laurel Canyon.

Gary Burden: 1933 - 2018

"He was a great man and a true artist. Rest in peace my old friend."
-- Statement by Neil Young.

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At 3/10/2018 08:10:00 AM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

According to the Neil's article on NYA,Gary Burden was 84. He was a very important guy in the Neil's work. It's a pity that the Archives Vol.2 boxset hasn't been released.
So Tired

At 3/10/2018 03:42:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thanks So Tired!

Updated w/ more details.

So sad.

We corresponded a few times with Gary & Jenice over the years. Mainly link sharing stuff.

But we did have a bit of back & forth over the Psych Pill cover art. There were those who felt the artwork didn't match up to the music. Gary defended the album cover as OK w/ Neil & all that mattered.

The other mixup we had w/ Gary was an early image we posted of cover art. It had a little tiny pill. The official relear had the giant psych pill.

What a trip.

Just re-watched the laurel Canyon vid posted above and quite marvelous and heartbreaking. We shed tears.

" 'Cos there's very few of us left my friend
From the days that used to be"


At 3/10/2018 05:14:00 PM, Blogger Richard Siciliano said...

RIP to one of the most important fellow travelers on Neil Young's journey. Just for the On The Beach cover alone, Gary Burden should be remembered and treasured by all Neil fans.

I also loved his work on the Morrison Hotel album by The Doors. Some of my favorite pictures of Mr Mojo Risin were done during that session. Gary also did the cool cover for the first Crazy Horse album, personally taking the picture of that, well, kind of crazy looking horse.

What a career, what a life. Let's all raise a toast to Gary tonight.

At 3/10/2018 10:14:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

So hard to see him pass now but what a story! The video is spectacular. I am from LA and I once got to hang with Robbie Krieger in his home not far from there. I learned a lot from that video. What a great character. So interesting how tight the rock and roll community was in Laurel Canyon. RIP Gary Burden. I will be getting that book.

Alan in Seattle

At 3/11/2018 01:54:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Excellent and informative, as an owner of Archives Blu Ray which has some fine artwork but was let down by the box design - it's not very good and a lot of wasted packaging. It's an odd cumbersome box just saying no big deal but as Neil & Ms Hannah are so environment conscious these days I'm sure he regrets the design now. Title for his next record WASTE. Anyway Gary Burden's name appears on so many great records of Neil & Others. Gary Burden's work is well covered in 'California Dreaming Henry Diltz' a limited edition book from 2007 - now hard to find.

At 3/11/2018 03:44:00 AM, OpenID seldomlogical said...

"Anyone who grew up in the 60's will get the significance of the stash box. It was another way to pay homage to the times. I wanted to include a pack of rolling papers and a lighter, but that wouldn't fly." -- Gary Burden [0]

The man has gone, but the art survives. Going through the Burden discography [1] I'm thinking of my old copy of ^Tonights the Night^. It's worn, faded just as Burden designed it. As the 80s came and CDs were released all that great artwork was cheapened. One of the reasons I tried to stick to vinyl. Thanks for your good taste Gary.



At 3/11/2018 08:28:00 AM, Blogger Syscrusher said...

I found a tiny weed leaf in my archives book a while after I purchased it, it just fell out one day. Any chance ol' Gary left that in there for me? Either way, love the attention to detail. Can't wait to see his unreleased album covers! Great video above, thanks for the post Thrasher, I noticed he speaks kinda like Neil, just in a different voice. Not sure how many of Neil's closest friends are left? Seems like just Elliot Roberts and Neil left from the old days? An era slowly dwindling away, but one that will live on for ever. Some lucky guys!

At 3/12/2018 01:42:00 AM, Blogger Mister Henry said...

“To glimpse one’s own true nature is a kind of homegoing, to a place East of the Sun, West of the Moon—the homegoing that needs no home, like that waterfall on the upper Suli Gad that turns to mist before touching the earth and rises once again into the sky.”
― Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

At 3/12/2018 11:58:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

The only thing better than Archives box 1 would be another just like it, vol 2. It can take a central place in my space, a tribute to Neil & Gary. Alan in Seattle

At 3/12/2018 08:32:00 PM, Blogger Hounds That Howl said...

Gary Burden had a keen sense of smell for The Horse, doing the memorable artwork art direction and design for the cover of CRAZY HORSE’s Debut Album “Crazy Horse.”

The Album cover was a dramatic raw closeup photo of a roaring crazed looking horse, taken by Gary. The image captures the primal energy of the albums hard rocking songs. Ralph Molina told us about Gary’s photo session with that horse, “Yes, he told me it wasn’t easy, he had to wait and wait, until finally the horse gave up and did thus, Gary snapped it’s raining here, though as much as I love the rain, makes it that much sadder.

That’s amazing and some Rusties always thought it was a ceramic sculpture or painted wooden horse, but Ralph set the record straight saying “Yep, real...just like Gary...” Ride On Gary, give Danny our love when you see him. Namaste.


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