Discovery: Previously Unknown Canadian Pressing of Prince’s “The Black Album” / One of The Rarest Records in the World









SOLD – Thanks to everyone for their interest is proud to offer what can truly be described as one of the rarest records in the world.

We have just listed on a previously unknown Canadian vinyl copy of Prince’s legendary The Black Album. In the 30 years since The Black Album was cancelled by Prince, no Canadian copy has ever surfaced—and in fact this extraordinary rarity had never even been rumored to exist.

Prince cancelled The Black Album one week before its planned release in December 1987; and paid for the destruction of more than 500,000 copies that had already been produced.  In the 30 years since, only eight U.S. copies of the 1987 vinyl LP have surfaced.  Remarkably, five of these were discovered in 2017 by a former Warner Bros. Records employee in their closet.

Recordmecca owner Jeff Gold, a former Executive Vice President/General Manager of Warner Bros. who worked with Prince, sold the newly discovered copies for his former co-worker; the last copy selling at auction in February 2018 for $42,298.

Reading about the newly discovered copies of The Black Album in Rolling Stone, a former Canadian pressing plant employee contacted Gold with his own incredible story. In 1987 he was working at CBS’s Toronto pressing plant, which pressed records in Canada for Warner Bros. and other labels.  When The Black Album was cancelled and the copies that had been pressed marked for destruction, he kept a single copy for himself.  He never realized its rarity or value until reading about the 2017 discovery.  After considerable research and inspecting the album in person, Gold confirmed the authenticity of this ultra-rarity, and is now offering it for sale on Discogs, in conjunction with the website.  The price is $27,500.

The all-important vinyl disc is in Near Mint condition, having been played perhaps 2-3 times.  The black card stock cover, with just the catalog number printed on the spine, has minor scuffing and a few very minor small scratches, two of which have been carefully touched up with black ink.  The original off white paper innersleeve has handwritten pressing plant notations and a “Library” stamp.  As this copy was taken off the factory floor and never shrink wrapped, there are no stickers or shrink wrap.

For Prince collectors, and record collectors in general, this is a likely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain a unique rarity.  With Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.


Canadian Black Album for sale on Discogs

Original listing for sealed US Black Album, with more information about Prince pulling the album at the last minute

Rolling Stone article on discovery of sealed Black Albums

Report on Feb. 2018 sale of sealed Black Album for $42,298

A Copy of ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ With The Four Withdrawn Tracks Surfaces, From The Person Who Bought It In 1963; And Possibly The First Printed Report of the Mispressed Album

Original copies of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, mistakenly mis-pressed with four still-unreleased tracks, are among the rarest and most valuable records in the world.  A stereo copy sold for $35,000, and a mint mono copy would easily fetch $25,000, though one in that condition has never surfaced.  It’s rare that a previously undiscovered copy surfaces, but I’m happy to report one just did.  And remarkably we acquired it from the original buyer, who had it in his collection for 55 years.

Freewheelin’ was Dylan’s second album, released in late May, 1963.  Though Dylan’s 1962 debut album featured only two original compositions, eleven of  the thirteen tracks on Freewheelin’ were written by Dylan.

For reasons still not completely clear, just prior to the album’s release, four of the songs that had been planned for inclusion were replaced with four newly recorded tracks.  Some speculate that because CBS television’s censors wouldn’t let Dylan perform “Talkin’ John Birch Blues” on the Ed Sullivan Show,  the CBS-owned Columbia Records pulled it from the album.  Others note that the four “replacement” tracks were recorded after the album was completed, and were simply too good to be left off (they included the Dylan classics Masters of War” and “Girl From The North Country”.)

In any case, replacement masters featuring the new songs were prepared and shipped to Columbia’s pressing plants, the artwork was changed, and the label released the revised album.

Except–and this turned out to be a very big deal–someone at one of the pressing plant didn’t get the message, and a small number of copies were pressed using the old stampers, with the four songs that had been replaced.  In the 55 years since the release of Freewheelin’, a very few copies have surfaced that play the four “withdrawn” tracks–only two stereo copies are known, and perhaps 20 mono copies.  No one has yet solved the mystery of why so few copies escaped Columbia’s pressing plants.


I recently found what is very likely the first printed mention of the rare Freewheelin’ in the January-February 1964 issue of The Little Sandy Review, a folk music fanzine run by Dylan’s Minneapolis friends Paul Nelson and Jon Pankake. In “Jay Smith’s Column” Smith writes “I’ve talked to a few people who bought The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and got four different songs from those listed on the album.  Of these “odd” copies, Girl From The North Country, Masters of War, Bob Dylan’s Dream and Talking World War III Blues are omitted while Rocks and Gravel, Let Me Die In My Footsteps, Gamblin Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand and Talking John  Birch Blues are added.  I wonder how many of these “collectors items” were issued…”  Interestingly, Smith then writes about the Harry Belafonte album that Dylan played harmonica on.

I searched for a copy for nearly 10 years, finally buying one in the early 80’s for $1000–a huge amount for a record at the time.   In 2012, I bought a second copy from an Arizona woman who discovered it amongst a box of records her late uncle had given her.

And then, a few weeks ago, I got a call from a friend of a friend, Larry (last name omitted for his privacy).  Larry lived very near me, and a few days later, I was sitting in his living room, looking at his original Freewheelin’, and listening to his story.  He recalled “Dylan’s first album came out while I was in high school. I didn’t know who he was at the time although I bought that album later. I started going to [U.C.] Berkeley in January 1963. At the end of semester I drove up to Vancouver with my sister and brother-in-law. At the end of June I was back in LA. I bought the album during that summer, at a record store on Pico Blvd. in West Los Angeles.  This is only a guess but I probably bought after being back in LA for a few weeks. I used to listen to [radio host] Les Claypool on Saturday nights and I think I heard some of the songs that way. At the time, I was disappointed and confused that the songs listed on the cover were not all on the record, especially “Girl From the North Country’”.

Happily, I was able to buy Larry’s copy, for as we figured out, considerably more than a thousand times the original purchase price.

This is only the second copy I know of to have come from the original buyer.  An acquaintance of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought his copy in Berkeley, CA. in 1963.  Likewise, he was disappointed that the copy he bought didn’t have the tracks listed on the cover, but also decided to keep it.  I wonder if any copies were actually returned to record stores by dissatisfied customers?

Over the last 47 years, I’ve checked thousands of copies of “Freewheelin’”–but have never found an original.  If you want to check yours, here’s what to look for:

Original copies have matrix numbers ending in -1A on both sides, and include these four songs: Rocks and Gravel/Let Me Die In My Footsteps/Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand/Talkin’ John Birch Blues.  Stereo copies list the rare tracks on the labels; mono copies list the replacement tracks. In either case, the record must play these four songs, not just list them on the cover or labels.

Regular copies have matrix numbers ending in -2 or a higher number, and include these four songs: Girl From The North Country/Masters of War/Bob Dylan’s Dream/Talkin World War III Blues.  The labels list the correct tracks and the disc plays these four songs.

And one more thing: Original Canadian copies and some promotional copies of Freewheelin’ list the rare tracks on the cover or labels but play the regular tracks.  For more details, check the excellent Dylan discography site “Searching For a Gem” – scroll down 1/3 of the page.)  If you find one, please let me know !

This copy has been sold but you can read more about it here.

Jeff Gold

March 9, 2018

The Virtual Museum – The Earliest Known Pink Floyd Concert Poster

We’ve just listed on the Recordmecca site the only known example of the earliest known Pink Floyd concert poster–or perhaps more accurately, a poster tied for that honor.  Previously undocumented, this poster advertises seven events (including two shows featuring The Pink Floyd, with Syd Barrett) presented by the London Free School during October 1966 at the All Saints Hall in Powis Gardens, London.

These were probably The Pink Floyd’s third and fourth shows under that name, and took place nearly 5 prior to the release of their debut single, “Arnold Layne”.  Pink Floyd had a good deal of name confusion prior to these shows–according to Glenn Povey’s definitive book Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd, prior to the London Free School shows, they had alternated between a number of names, including The Tea Set, Pink Floyd Sound, Pink Floyd, before settling just before these shows on The Pink Floyd (during this time, they were even mistakenly billed as The Pink Freud!)  And of course, by the time of their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, they had jettisoned the “The” and reverted to Pink Floyd.

But back to the poster.  These shows were benefits for the London Free School,  a community adult education project inspired by American free universities. The organizers of the LFS included Floyd managers Peter Jenner and Andrew King, and the producer of their first single, Joe Boyd.  Though short lived, the London Free School helped give birth to The Notting Hill Neighbourhood Service (an early drug and legal advice center in London), the Notting Hill Carnival, the International Times underground newspaper, and the UFO Club (an important venue in the development of Pink Floyd).

Other performers on the poster include the British free improvising group AMM, future Pink Floyd collaborator Ron Geesin, and Joel (listed on the poster as ‘Joe’) and Toni Brown, recently arrived from Timothy Leary’s psychedelic community at Millbrook, billed as providing light projection for The Pink Floyd on October 14th.

The poster is printed on thin green stock, measuring 20” x 30”.  It’s in excellent condition, with a small name written  neatly on the back.  And as we said above, this is tied for the earliest Floyd poster.  On page 38 of Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason’s book Inside Out, there is a tiny photograph of a different poster advertising these same The Pink Floyd shows, but only the Floyd shows.  Printed by Floyd co-manager Andrew King’s girlfriend, Wendy Gair.  As the poster listed here includes two dates prior to the Pink Floyd shows, it’s likely it was created before the poster in Mason’s book, but it’s impossible to say definitively.   We know of no other example of either.  (it’s $12,500).

Finding The Right Home For A Collectible–In This Case, Quincy Jones!

In many years of selling music collectibles, I always get the greatest satisfaction when I can find the ‘perfect home’ for something.  Sometimes it’s placing something of great historical importance in a museum collection.  Other times it’s helping a longtime collector fill a hole in their collection that’s been vexing them for decades.  A few weeks ago I had a particularly satisfying experience with none other than Quincy Jones.

I’ve been working on a jazz-related book and wanted to interview Quincy for it (he was a respected jazz trumpeter and arranger before his incredible success as a record producer and label executive).  I’m friendly with Quincy’s grandson, musician and record producer Sunny Levine, who arranged for me to pitch the interview, and my friend and former boss Mo Ostin (the legendary longtime head of Warner Bros. Records, who is close to Quincy) told me to drop his name too.

Coincidentally, I’d just bought a large jazz memorabilia collection, which included a concert program for a German date on Lionel Hampton’s 1953 European Tour–on which Quincy played trumpet, alongside Art Farmer and the legendary Clifford Brown.  The program even had a ticket from the gig pasted inside.  According to Quincy’s Wikipedia page this was a pivotal tour for him–“it turned him upside down, altering his view of racism in the US“.  So figuring it couldn’t hurt my chances for getting an interview, I sent the program to Quincy.

Quincy’s assistant Alyssa told me he’d loved it, and soon after I had my interview.  Then she sent me a link to this posting on Quincy’s Facebook page, which blew me away.  The ticket pasted in the program was from the day Jolie, Quincy’s first child was born, a daughter he didn’t meet for three months, because he needed the money he was making on the tour.  Quincy wrote “It’s heavy to think about all the memories this one ticket holds!”  And amazingly, Jolie is the mother of my friend, Sunny!

I can’t claim any of this was intentional, but I certainly found the perfect home for this program.  Thanks for the interview Quincy, and for a great story too.

-Jeff Gold

August 2017

Virtual Museum – An Unreleased Van Morrison Album From 1975 Surfaces for the first time

I’ve been collecting rare records and music memorabilia for 46 years, and just when I think I’ve seen it all, something surfaces that blows me away.  This is one of those times.

Yesterday I listed on the Recordmecca site an impossibly rare–and possibly unique–reel to reel tape of rough-mixes for an unreleased Van Morrison studio album.  He recorded it in 1975 for Warner Bros, and remarkably, in the 42 years since these recordings were made, no copies have surfaced and the (excellent) music remains completely unknown.  That’s all the more remarkable in an era of  YouTube, file sharing and rampant bootlegging.


Morrison released no albums between 1974’s Veedon Fleece and 1977 A Period of Transition.   Explaining his three year absence in a May 1977 Rolling Stone interview with Cameron Crowe, Morrison said “I didn’t really go anywhere. I just had to stop. I wasn’t getting out of it what I wanted…it just wasn’t worth the hotels and the airports and all that. I’ve been doing this since I was 12. I personally reached a place where I wanted to take it apart so I could put it together in a way that I could live with it, and could maybe even be happy with it.”

This process included several much-publicized abandoned album projects. One of them was a nearly completed LP with jazz producer Stewart Levine (on which Morrison was backed by most of the Crusaders. “I backed off from it because it wasn’t feeling right. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do a whole album.”

The origins of this tape are best explained by the accompanying letter of authenticity from record producer Sunny Levine-

“In the fall of 1975 Stewart Levine (my father) began work on an album with Van Morrison (then signed to Warner Bros. Records).  Levine assembled a stellar cast of musicians to play on the record and they spent two weeks recording at the legendary Record Plant studios in Sausalito, California.

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Levine, Morrison and the thoughtfully casted band got along great and the sessions were a joyful experience.  Morrison was very relaxed and sounds extra soulful as you can hear on the tape.  The whole tracking experience was a pleasure with no drama in sight.

They went away for a week and planned to put the finishing touches on the record, which would have been the Tower of Power horns, followed by mixing.  When they returned to the studio, Morrison and Levine had an argument that abruptly ended the sessions and that was that!  The record was never released…

I have had this tape since we packed up my childhood home 20 years ago.  I had it transferred to digital at the Bernie Grundman mastering facility.  It is the only known evidence of these recordings.

Personel: Joe Sample-piano, fender rhodes, wurlitzer/Jim Gordon-drums/Ed Brown-bass/Mel Brown-guitar/Arthur Adams-guitar.

I hereby declare this tape to be authentic, one of a kind and not a copy. (Signed) Sunny Levine


Stewart Levine is an acclaimed American record producer known for his work with Simply Red, The Crusaders, Dr. John, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Labelle, Sly Stone, Minnie Ripperton and many others.

The nine tracks included on this 7 1/2 IPS, half-track reel to reel Dolby tape comprise the entire planned album.  They are “You Move Me”/”Grits Ain’t Groceries”/”Don’t Change On Me”/”We’re Gonna Make It”/”It Hurts to Want It So Bad”/”The Street Only Knew Your Name”/”Down To Earth”/”I Have Finally Come to Realize”/”Joyous Sound”.

Obviously not many collectors have a half-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, and so a high quality digital transfer is included.  And no, you can’t buy this and release it.  We’re selling this tape as a collectible only, for the buyer’s personal use.  Copyright remains with original rights holders; no transfer of rights of any kind are implied or included.  (And sorry, we are not able to make copies of this tape available to anyone except the buyer).

Crazy!  Who knows what will show up next.

Jeff Gold  April 6, 2017

How Robert Rauschenberg Met Talking Heads, and Ended Up Designing The “Speaking in Tongues” Album Cover

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In 1983, legendary artist Robert Rauschenberg designed the album cover for Talking Heads’ fifth studio album, Speaking in Tongues.  Rauschenberg’s cover, with three spinning plastic discs and a clear vinyl LP, all packed in a vacu-form clamshell, was too costly for regular copies of the album; so the album was issued with a conventional (David Byrne designed) cover and a limited edition Rauschenberg version.  In 1984 Rauschenberg won a well deserved Best Album Cover Grammy Award for his cover.

Today a collector wrote to ask if I ever had copies of the Rauschenberg designed poster for the album, sending me a link to an article in Artsy titled The Story behind Robert Rauschenberg’s Iconic Talking Heads Album Cover.

I read the article with interest, as I played a small, but critical, part in the Rauschenberg /Talking Heads alliance.  I’ve never written about it before, as it’s not much more than a good anecdote.  But I wrote a note to article’s author, Abigail Cain, thinking she might enjoy the story, and am posting it here.

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Dear Abigail,

Someone just sent me a link to your Robert Rauschenberg/Talking Heads article, and I though you might enjoy the REAL story about how Talking Heads met Rauschenberg, and the cover came about.

On August 12, 1982, Talking Heads played Perkins Palace in Pasadena, CA.  At the time I was the assistant to A&M Records president Gil Friesen, and among other things, was executive producing the soundtrack for an upcoming James Bridges film, Mike’s Murder.  Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Head had their own band, Tom Tom Club, who’d had a few hits, and I wanted to see if I could get them to do something for the film, so I arranged a screening for them while they were in town to do some shows.

The day before the Pasadena show, Gil got a call from Ace Gallery owner Doug Christmas.  He told Gil his friend Bob Rauschenberg was coming to town and wanted to see Talking Heads, and asked Gil if he might be able to get them tickets.  Gil and I had seen the band a few days before at the Greek Theatre, and were both excited at the prospect of meeting Rauschenberg and seeing the band again, so Gil invited Bob and Doug (and me), and arranged for tickets.

The night of the show, Gil’s girlfriend was stuck on a delayed flight from New York, so I ended up taking Bob, his assistant Terry Van Brunt and Doug to see the show.  We were in a stretch limo, and Bob drank not a little bourbon on the way.  He was wonderful company and sat next to me during the show, whooping it up.  At one point he clapped me on my back and said about David Byrne “he looks just like E.T!” (in a reference to the size of Byrne’s head).

After the show, I took everybody backstage to meet the band (I had probably gotten passes through Chris and Tina, who demurred on doing anything for Mike’s Murder; Joe Jackson ended up doing the soundtrack.)  I introduced  them to Bob, and eventually some of the other band members, who I hadn’t yet met, came over.  I introduced myself, Bob and the others.  Bob said, enthusiastically, “who’s doing your next album cover.”  A few of them said, pretty much in unison “YOU ARE!”
And so it came to be.

Jeff Gold

February 2017

New York Book Launch With Iggy, Rolling Stone feature and Upcoming Culver City Signing


More great press for Total Chaos:The Story of The Stooges/As Told By Iggy Pop in a Rolling Stone recap of Iggy and my interview/Q&A /book signing last Friday night at the Rizzoli Bookstore in NYC.  Rolling Stone recaps some highlights of our talk including Iggy’s revelations about K-Mart and fashion, Bob Dylan wannabees, ruining Joe Perry’s Acid Trip, the Beach Boys as potential inspiration for The Stooges classic Raw Power, and MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith.

Coming next Saturday–a book launch and solo signing (Iggy’s on vacation) with an exhibit of original Stooges memorabilia at Arcana:Books on the Arts in Culver City, CA.


Detroit launch of Total Chaos with Iggy Pop, and first review: “Total Chaos is phenomenal – a must-have for all fans of the group”

Just back from Detroit where we had an incredible launch for Total Chaos: The Story of The Stooges/As Told By Iggy Pop, with…Mr. Iggy Pop himself.  Iggy joined me for an interview, Q&A and book signing at Detroit’s stunning Third Man Records.  Jim Jarmusch, director of the wonderful Stooges documentary Gimmie Danger (which had it’s Detroit premiere earlier that night) joined us for the Q&A, and everyone had a great time. (Photos below.)

Another highlight of last week was a great piece on the book in Dangerous Minds, where critic Bart Bealmear wrote “TOTAL CHAOS is phenomenal—a must-have for all fans of the group.”

This week, our New York launch event with Iggy, Friday at 6:00 PM, Rizzoli Bookstore, Broadway at 26th, Friday at 6:00 PM.  First come first serve.  Hope to see you there.


Iggy and your’s truly


Jim Jarmusch joined us for the Q&A

-Jeff Gold

Live Talk and Book Launch With Iggy Pop and Jeff Gold in Detroit & New York


To celebrate the publication of one of the most anticipated books of the year, TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of The Stooges / As Told by Iggy Pop, Third Man Books is beyond excited to present legendary and legend-making musician Iggy Pop in conversation with author Jeff Gold. They will appear in Detroit on October 25 at Third Man Records Cass Corridor, and on November 4 in New York City at Rizzoli Bookstore. These events will be open to the public with admittance first come, first serve.

TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of The Stooges / As Told by Iggy Pop is the first time the story of this seminal band has been told entirely in Pop’s own words and features a cache of never before seen images. Pop’s candid, bare-all account is the incredible tragic and triumphant story of a group who rose from youth, fell prey to drugs, alcohol, and music biz realities, collapsed and nearly 30 years later reformed, recording and touring to great acclaim. In 2010 The Stooges—credited with having invented punk rock—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their continuing influence can be felt today in the shape and sound of rock-n-roll music. TOTAL CHAOS:The Story of The Stooges / As Told By Iggy Pop will be available from Third Man Books in November 2016.

“What does it mean to be Iggy Pop, five decades of being ‘the wildest man in rock’? Iggy Pop is many things. Rock Star. Singer, Rebel. Primitive. Stooge. The Jean Genie, Passenger. Legend.” – Johnny Marr

About Iggy Pop and Jeff Gold:

James Newell Osterberg, Jr., known professionally as Iggy Pop, is an American singer-songwriter, musician and actor. He was the founder and vocalist of influential proto-punk band The Stooges, who reunited in 2003, and in 2010 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Pop’s music has encompassed a number of styles over the course of his career, from garage and punk rock to forays into jazz and blues.  Pop’s best known songs include “Lust for Life”, “The Passenger”, “Real Wild Child (Wild One)”, “China Girl”, “Nightclubbing”, and the Stooges classics “Search and Destroy” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. In March 2016, Pop released his highest charting album ever, Post Pop Depression, a collaboration with Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal).

Author Jeff Gold is a music historian, author, former record label executive, and Grammy Award winner. He has been profiled by Rolling Stone as one of the five “top collectors of high-end music memorabilia.” As Executive Vice President/General Manager of Warner Bros. Records and a VP at A&M Records, Gold worked with Iggy Pop, Prince, R.E.M., The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Police, and Cat Stevens.  A four-time Grammy nominated Art Director, he won the 1990 Best Album Package Grammy for Suzanne Vega’s Days of Open Hand. Gold has consulted for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Experience Music Project, and appeared as an expert on PBS’ History Detectives. Gold and colleague Laura Woolley also appraised The Bob Dylan Archive now housed at the University of Tulsa. His discovery of previously undocumented tapes has led to major label releases including Bob Dylan in Concert at Brandeis University 1963. Gold’s 2012 book 101 Essential Rock Records: The Golden Age of Vinyl, From The Beatles to the Sex Pistols was one of eight books chosen by Rolling Stone as “the year’s best reading material.” Gold owns  music collectibles website Recordmecca and writes about topics of interest to collectors on its blog.




Coming November 15: Total Chaos: The Story of The Stooges/As Told By Iggy Pop



I’m excited to announce that my new book, Total Chaos: The Story of The Stooges/As Told By Iggy Pop will be released November 15.  It’s an uncensored oral and visual history of the band that invented Punk, as told by the man who willed The Stooges into existence, and kept them alive through through years of, well, total chaos.

My friend and fellow Stooges collector, Johan Kugelberg, and I spent two days with Iggy in his Miami back yard, as he downloaded the entire history of the band that invented a genre.  Iggy’s memory is incredible, and he held nothing back.  We were astounded by his recall, masterful storytelling, and the many revelations that even we, as Stooges “experts”, hadn’t known.

The book, published by Jack White’s Third  Man Books,  is 350 pages, with 220 images, most of which have never been published.  With Stooges appreciations from Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, Joan Jett, Johnny Marr, and Jack White.  If you’re a fan of Iggy or The Stooges you may want to check out the Total Chaos website, for some previews, and the article Rolling Stone just published.


The Stooges at one of first gigs, at the Ann Arbor Armory, April 1968. L-R, Ron Asheton, Iggy (in whiteface), Dave Alexander, Scott Asheton.

RIP DAVID KING – The Greatest Album Cover Designer Ever

In May, the great David King passed away.  You may not have heard of him, but he was my hero.  An obituary in the New York Times described him as ‘a graphic designer and design historian who amassed one of the world’s largest collections of Soviet political art and photographs, which he drew on for revelatory books on Leon Trotsky and the Stalin era’.  That’s all true.  But in my estimation, he was also the finest album cover designer ever.

During the 1960’s, King was art editor of The Sunday Times of London magazine and was drafted into doing album covers by his friend Chris Stamp, co-manager of The Who and co-owner of Track Records.  He designed only about 10 album covers in all, but each was a masterpiece of the form.  His album sleeves were completely original, unexpected, and many today are rightly considered classics.   Check out the great man’s work.

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The Who – The Who Sell Out









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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love




















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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland









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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland Part 1












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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland Part 2











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The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown












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Various Artists – The House That Track Built





















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Badfinger – Magic Christian Music






































In a past life, I art directed album covers–I even won a Grammy for it once.  But looking at these, I feel like an amateur.

In 2013 I reached out to King and we exchanged some emails, and later that year my wife and I paid him a visit at his extraordinary London flat.  It was overflowing with more than 250,000 Soviet political artifacts and photographs he’d amassed.  He greeted us with a delicious homemade lunch, and was as charming and engaging as could be, telling stories, recalling his album cover work so many years earlier, showing us his archives, and selling me a few choice pieces.  We were both thrilled to meet him, and amazed by his work and collection.

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King in his upstairs studio, my wife Jody on the right


With David in his Kitchen











When we returned home, he’d written an email calling us his “new best friends”, and he promised to visit us in L.A. the next time he was in California.  Alas that was not to be.  Ironically, my wife and I were visiting Russia for the first time when she saw his obituary.

David did a lot of great and lasting work besides his album covers– his innovative magazine design, books on Soviet politics and political art, a book on Muhammad Ali, classic posters for the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism, and so much more insure his legacy.  Our best wishes go out to his family.  He won’t be forgotten, not by a longshot.

More about David King in the New York Times , The Guardian and Eye Magazine.

Jeff Gold

July 2016


David Bowie & Band: A Fully Autographed Album 42 Years in the Making

Collecting autographs requires patience.  Sometimes extreme patience.  But getting David Bowie and his 1970 band The Hype to sign my UK dress cover copy of The Man Who Sold The World took me 42 years.  That’s got to be one for the Guinness Book of World Records.


Here’s the somewhat short version.  I was and remain a huge fan of David Bowie’s 60’s and 70’s work.  In 1973 I saw him and the Spiders From Mars at the Long Beach Arena and the Hollywood Palladium.  Still among the top 5 concerts I’ve ever seen–and I’ve seen many. Back then I spent a lot of time trying to meet the musicians I admired and get their autographs.  So Bowie and his band were at the top of my list.

David Bowie: As I wrote in an earlier post, in 1974 my friend Harvey Kubernik, who wrote for Melody Maker, called to tell me Bowie and his new band were rehearsing at that very moment at Studio Instrument Rentals in Hollywood.  I rushed there and sat outside for five or six hours until Bowie’s bodyguard, Stuart George, emerged.  I shyly asked him to sign a photo I had of him with Bowie, and we began to talk.  I showed him the dress cover Man Who Sold The World, which he’d never seen, and he invited me inside.  He brought David out to meet me, and he graciously signed it “For Jeff, with my very best wishes, Bowie ’74.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I’d met my hero.


Mick Ronson: Two years later the call came from Harvey again: my guitar hero Mick Ronson was staying at the Sunset Marquee Hotel in Hollywood.  Same drill–I hightailed it to the hotel with my album, parked outside, and sat for 5 or 6 hours, waiting for Ronson–with no sign of him.  I came back the next day and sat another three or four hours before doing something I’ve never done, before or since.  I called his room, explained my mission, and much to my surprise he invited me to his room.  I spent half an hour with the exceedingly nice Ronson, who signed my album and some 45’s by his band The Rats.  When his Rolling Thunder Review bandmates Joan Baez and I believe Ronnie Blakley came by to visit, he introduced me as if we knew each other.  Again, I couldn’t believe it. Mick Ronson!  In the 80’s, I worked for A&M Records and met him a number of other times when he produced our band The Payolas.  He was always wonderful, and I never got used to being in his presence.


Tony Visconti: Fast forward to 2000.  I learned the album’s producer and bass player, the great Tony Visconti was giving a talk at the National Association of Music Merchants convention in Los Angeles.  I wasn’t registered for the convention, but somehow I talked my way in and when his talk was over, I rushed onstage and accosted him.  He signed my album, barely looking at it or me.  But I was very happy just to have met him for a second.


I figured getting the autograph of Woody Woodmansey, the fourth and final member of The Hype, would be near impossible.  Woody lived in the UK, and to my knowledge his touring days were long behind him.  Years passed.  And then…

In 2014 Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey formed a band, Holy Holy, to play the music of David Bowie.  Particularly The Man Who Sold The World.  They toured the UK in 2014, Japan and the UK in 2015, and the East Coast of the US in 2016.  But not Los Angeles, where I live.  And then it happened–they booked an LA show, in April.


Woody Woodmansey: At breakfast one day, my old friend David Leaf happened to mention that he was friendly with Tony Visconti’s manager, Joe D’Ambrosio.  I told him of my mission and he promised his friend would make it happen.  A flurry of phone calls and emails later it was arranged.  Joe told me to knock on the stage door at The Wiltern Theatre just before the soundcheck, identify myself and ask for Woody’s wife.  I did as instructed, and was ushered into his dressing room.  Woody and his wife couldn’t have been nicer.  I thanked him profusely, he signed the album, took a few photos with me, and my project was complete.  42 years later, a fully signed Man Who Sold The World.


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It was hard to believe.  I’d begun my quest as an 18 year old college student and record store clerk, and ended it as a 60 year old former executive vice president of Warner Bros. Records, married 30 years with two grown kids!  But I still love music, record collecting hasn’t eased its grip, and The Man Who Sold The World is still one of my all-time favorite albums.  And I do like a good project to sink my teeth into.

So thanks Harvey, David, Joe, David, Mick, Tony and Woody. I owe you. Phew.

Jeff Gold

July 2016

PS: Yeah, I know, Mercury Records executive Ralph Mace played synthesizer on a few songs.  But he wasn’t a band member, so I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

More about my adventures with Bowie are here.


Working With Prince

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As I previously wrote, I had the great fortune to work with Prince during the 90’s, while an executive at Warner Bros. Records. I art directed a number of his album covers (pictured throughout this post*) and oversaw much of the marketing for his records. We weren’t friends by any means; nobody at Warner Bros. was personally close to Prince. But we did have a good working relationship (which was rare), and spent time together. Since his passing, I’ve been thinking about him a lot.

Genius is a pretty overused word these days. True geniuses are very few and very far between. But Prince was a stone cold genius, the only one I ever knew.

I don’t think there has ever been a musician and performer remotely as talented as Prince. He was an incredible singer and songwriter. A dancer on the level of James Brown or Michael Jackson. Definitely one of rock’s greatest guitarists. And without a doubt, one of the best live acts ever. The clips that surfaced from his last ‘Piano and a Microphone’ show, a week before his passing, show he was still at the top of his game.

He was also an extraordinary record producer and arranger, who played 27 instruments, many of them at virtuoso level. My friend Joel Bernstein, once Prince’s guitar tech, told me even as a studio bass player, he was one of the best ever.

Add to that label owner and highly successful A&R executive, who developed, produced, and wrote hits for numerous artists including The Time, Vanity 6, Shelia E, The Family, The Bangles, Sheena Easton and many others. And a pioneer in direct marketing and unorthodox distribution of his music, with his NPG Music Club, retail store, cd giveaways, etc.

A few days after Prince died, Howard Stern perfectly summed up his singularity, saying Prince was to music what Steve Jobs was to technology.

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OK, on to Prince, the person. I first met Prince in early 1991. Uncharacteristically, Prince had been open to feedback about his forthcoming album, Diamonds and Pearls, from Warner Bros. chairman Mo Ostin and president Lenny Waronker (himself a legendary record producer) and I believe sr. vp’s of a&r Benny Medina and Michael Ostin.  When finished, many at the label felt it had great potential.

I was WB’s new senior vp of creative services, responsible for the art department and much of marketing, and when I saw Prince’s proposed album cover—a tight close up of his face, with two fingers in front of his lips, and his tongue sticking out between them, I thought it was kind of…ridiculous.

Since the album was a major priority for the company, I went to Mo and Lenny with my concerns. They suggested I have a meeting with Prince, and so Benny Medina, who worked closely with Prince, set one up. I was a major Prince fan, having seen him on Purple Rain tour and a few other times, and while I knew of his difficult reputation, figured ‘what have I got to lose?’ What followed was surely the most difficult meeting of my career.

Benny’s office was dark and sort of cave-like, with no windows. I entered to find Benny at his desk and Prince sitting in the middle of a couch, with the obvious spot for me a couch opposite Prince. There was no small talk, then or ever, with Prince. Benny got to the point, introducing me and telling Prince that I wasn’t particularly fond of his album cover concept.

Just as Benny finished delivering the bad news, there was a knock on the door, and Benny’s attorney stuck in his head. He needed Benny right away. Benny left, and I was alone with Prince, in full hair, makeup, and clothed like he was about to take the stage (as he always was), sitting about 5’ across from me, not particularly happy. In hindsight, I’m not sure anybody at Warners had ever offered up a negative opinion about his album artwork. He’d earned the right to call the shots, and expected to do so. But still, that photo was so…weird.

We had an hour or more of very difficult semi-conversation, mostly about what I thought he might do instead. Prince had enormous charisma, knew it, and knew how to use it. He also knew how to use silence and pauses in conversation to intimidate people, and he did a great job with me. I spoke respectfully and generally about why I thought a different image might be better. He glared. At one point, he asked with incredulity ‘What do you want me to do, wear overalls like R.E.M.?’ A bit later he said ‘Maybe I should have some clothes made for you’. I was wearing jeans and a button up shirt; he was wearing lime green skin-tight pants, high-heel boots, and a day-glo green, pin-striped, see-through shirt.

After one pause, he said ‘show me some album covers you’ve done.’ I ran upstairs to my office and collected about 20 cd’s I’d worked on, most from my previous job at A&M Records. He looked at each one, saying something dismissive about it, until near the bottom of the pile, he saw a holographic limited edition package I’d worked on for Suzanne Vega’s album Days of Open Hand (which I’d won an art direction Grammy for.) ‘Now this is great’ he said. Why can’t I have a hologram?’

Ah, finally a potential break. A few weeks earlier I’d met with a salesman for a company with a new, much less expensive hologram technology. I told Prince about it, and he perked up a bit. I promised to follow up and get back to him, and the meeting was over.

I pitched the hologram company’s rep –how would you like to introduce your new technology on Prince’s new album cover? Somehow, miraculously, we were able to pull it off, and Diamonds and Pearls was the first mass market CD with a holographic cover.

A few memories: We did a 4 hour hologram shoot at Studio Instrument Rentals (SIR) in Hollywood, where Prince and his two dancers, ‘Diamond’ and ‘Pearl’ sat on a small circular platform. After speaking to the holographer, he decided on an arm motion to perform while a motion picture camera on a dolly shot them in a 180 degree arc. Multiple takes were completed, with a lot of down time. I remember trying to make conversation (near impossible) and asking him about collaborating with Miles Davis (he was pretty dismissive.)

A few days later, I met him at a studio in Hollywood to watch video transfers of the various takes (each a few seconds long.) We chose one pretty quickly, and I was on my way. A few weeks later I got a ‘glass plate’ test hologram, which I thought looked great. Benny and I took it to Larrabee Studios, where Prince was recording. When he saw it, he loved it—and I think I detected a bit of a thaw. Progress!

Our next encounter was probably the highlight of my music business career. Benny and I went to see Prince at SIR, where he was rehearsing his band; I think it was to show him the first actual stamped hologram samples. He was very happy with what he saw, and asked what we were doing after we left. We said something to the extent of ‘going back to the office’, and he pointed to an old funky couch and suggested we sit down, alongside two Dutch journalists who were writing a story. We did, and Prince proceeded to rehearse his set, with full band, for about an hour, for the four of us. We were mabye 10 feet in front of him. It was the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever seen. As I reflect on it now, I think he may have been sort of saying ‘nice work on the hologram. Now take a look at what I can do’.

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When he finally saw the finished album cover, he was thrilled and sent me this note. His assistant told mine that she’d never seen him send a thank you note, ever. I’d passed the test.

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From then on, he never gave me any grief. That’s not to say it was always easy. But as we continued to work together, I understood that Prince was driven by a relentless pursuit of perfection. He knew exactly what he wanted. He did things his own way, and that worked for him. The word “no” didn’t exist in Prince’s world. If you told him ‘no’, he’d move on and find somebody else who would give him a ‘yes’. The absolute worst thing you could say to him is “but everybody else does it this way.”

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The alternate Diamonds and Pearls cover, done for international vinyl use.

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The Symbol CD, with gold stamped jewel box.
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The limited edition gold bound Symbol CD package.

Prince knew exactly how talented he was, had supreme self-confidence, and saw no reason to settle for anything less than his vision. And you had to respect him for it. Nobody worked harder than Prince. He was a perpetual motion machine, exploding with creativity.

When Prince died, I called Joel Bernstein, who was much closer to Prince than I was. He too was in shock, but said something that really stuck with me. We were talking about how tragic it was that he passed on at such a young age. Joel said something to the effect of yes, it’s true, but Prince crammed three lifetimes into those 57 years. So true, so true.

Jeff Gold

May 27, 2016

I’ll be writing more about my experiences with Prince, so watch this space.

*all album covers done with my friends and co-workers Tom Recchion and Greg Ross.

My New Book With Iggy Pop On The Stooges

This week Third Man Books (part of Jack White’s Third Man Records) announced a book I’ve been working on for quite some time.  Here’s their press release.  As the winter release comes nearer, I’ll be posting some updates, but for now, this tells the story.

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  • Third Man Books is excited to announce one of the most anticipated books of the year about one of the most influential bands of all time…The Stooges. TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of The Stooges / As Told by Iggy Pop is the first time the story of this seminal band has been told entirely in Pop’s own words.

    Author Jeff Gold and contributor Johan Kugelberg, noted music historians and collectors, spent two days with Pop at his Miami home, sharing with him their extensive Stooges collection and interviewing the legendary singer. Pop’s candid, bare-all responses left them with the almost unbelievable tale of the band he founded—the alternately tragic and triumphant story of a group who rose from youth, fell prey to drugs, alcohol, and music biz realities, collapsed and nearly 30 years later reformed, recording and touring to great acclaim. In 2010 The Stooges, credited with having invented punk rock, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their continuing influence can be felt today in the shape and sound of rock-n-roll music.

    Jeff Gold, Johan Kugelberg and editor/contributor Jon Savage are among the most respected music authors and historians working today. Their efforts include numerous acclaimed and best-selling books and a Grammy Award. TOTAL CHAOS stands as a work for all fans of the band and rock music to draw inspiration. Including an absolute treasure-trove of rare and unseen photographs, TOTAL CHAOS is a book that shows AND tells the story of The Stooges. A metallic k.o. of only the best kind.


    It was a rare privilege to sit with Iggy as he downloaded the story of The Stooges. He’s an incredible storyteller with a fantastic memory and a great sense of humor, and he held nothing back. The Stooges were pioneers in sound, look, and live presentation, and along the way invented a genre—punk rock—and influenced countless others that followed. There was no precedent in rock music for what they did. They’re definitely the only group in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who started out playing an amplified Waring blender, a vacuum cleaner, spring water bottles and a 200 gallon oil drum. — Jeff Gold, Author of 101 Essential Rock Records

    Iggy and The Stooges have to be one of the greatest American rock bands that has ever been. — Joan Jett

    What does it mean to be Iggy Pop, five decades of being ‘the wildest man in rock’? Iggy Pop is many things. Rock Star. Singer, Rebel. Primitive. Stooge. The Jean Genie, Passenger. Legend. — Johnny Marr

    Iggy Pop has turned the interview into an art form. In this book he tells the history of The Stooges with a mixture of wit, candor and spontaneity: from their early beginnings to their full flaming flare over three groundbreaking albums before the crash and the triumphant return that no-one could have predicted. Profusely illustrated with dozens of unseen images, this is the story of The Stooges like you’ve never read it before. — Jon Savage, Author of England’s Dreaming.


    Ben Blackwell
    Joan Jett
    Johnny Marr
    Jack White
    & more.

    Cover photo by Dustin Pittman



An hour ago I learned that Prince has died.  I  had the very great privilege of working closely with him during the 1990’s, while I was at Warner Bros. Records, his record label.  At Warner Bros, and before that A&M Records,  I had the good fortune to work with many extraordinarily talented artists .  But Prince was the only true Genius.  With a capital g.  I think if you polled all the other artists I’ve known, they’d probably agree.

An incredible guitarist.  An amazing songwriter.  A world class dancer.  A visionary and tireless live performer.  A masterful record producer.  A business visionary.  Prince was not afraid to do things his own way–in fact, he was fully committed to doing so, no matter what anyone thought.  I spent a fair amount of time with him, art directing a number of his album covers, and overseeing the marketing of his records.  I’ll be writing more about my experiences with him, but right now I’m just processing the news.  The world will be a much lesser place without Prince.

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