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William Stout Interview - March 2013

William Stout

Hi Bill,First of all, thanks for finding the time to speak to our site as I'm sure you are a busy man...... We have linked to your site since I first began the Floyd bootleg guide in 2006 and I know that many of our visitors have had a look at your site and are versed in your whole career, not just the early days, and on that basis, please forgive me for asking questions that mainly refer to the early part of your career as an artist as, after all, that is mainly what this site is concerned with.......

When you first got into doing the artwork for TMOQ how old were you?

I was 24 years old.

What were you doing artistically at the time ?

At that time I was taking just about any job that came my way. Most of my work then was in advertising. I worked on the first national advertising for Taco Bell, designing and illustrating posters to convince white people that Mexican food was clean and safe to eat. I also worked on the very first advertising and parts catalogues for Toyota in the United States. I was an assistant to Russ Manning on the Tarzan of the Apes Sunday and daily newspaper strips, and an assistant to Harvey Kurtzman and Willy Elder on "Little Annie Fanny" for Playboy. I was creating my own comics for Cycle-toons and Car-toons at this time, drawing the stories and features in a variety of art styles. I was also drawing underground comix --- mostly covers.

How did you get to meet Dub & Ken?

I met "Ken" at Record Paradise in Hollywood in 1973. That record shop was one of the few places in L. A. that carried import LPs. I had recently attended a great concert (Zeppelin, as I recall) and was looking forward to purchasing the bootleg LP of it that was sure to be produced. There it was in the "L" bin! I grabbed it and held it up. "Oh man," I said out loud, "this cover sucks. I wish someone would get me to do these covers." A guy tapped on my shoulder and whispered. "You wanna do bootleg record covers?" "Sure!""Selma and Las Palmas, this Friday night, eight o’clock. Be there." He paused. "Alone." I agreed. That guy was "Ken". The intersection of Selma and Las Palmas at that time was one of the seedier Hollywood neighborhoods. Promptly at eight an old black 40’s coupe with smoked windows pulled up to the corner and stopped. The passenger window opened a crack. A paper sheet came out of it. I took the sheet and read it. It said, "Winter Tour" and had a list of Rolling Stones songs. A voice inside the car said, "Next Friday, same time." The window rolled up. Then the window rolled back down a tiny bit. "Alone." I drove back to my apartment and began work on the cover. I re-titled it "All Meat Music" and designed the cover as a tribute to Robert Crumb’s Cheap Thrills cover for Big Brother & The Holding Company. Each song got a picture and each of the five Stones were featured in song illustrations. The following Friday I was back at Selma and Las Palmas at the appointed time. Alone. The same coupe drove up and stopped. The passenger window cracked a bit. I put the cover in the provided slot, like mailing a letter. A fifty-dollar bill came out in response, as if the car was some kind of bizarre ATM machine. Then the coupe drove away. Rolling Stones - Winter Tour (a.k.a. All Meat Music) came out within two weeks of the concert. The cover made it stand out and it sold very well. TMQ commissioned more covers. Eventually, I gained the trust of the bootleggers and I worked with "Ken" and Dub face to face, though never knowing their real names. We saw each other regularly --- usually, at Record Paradise. We were all friends with the shop’s owners, Roger and Ollie. It was a cool place to hang out.

What were they like as individuals, bearing in mind the split between them after a few years was reportedly due to disagreements about quality (Dub) over quantity (Ken)....

I became closest to "Ken". He kind of "collected" people. That is, he found the oddities of the human race and our species’ quirkier individuals fascinating and amusing. He made them a part of his pretty private social life. "Ken" taught me to be more tolerant and accepting of the stranger qualities of people. I don’t think I ever met a bigger Stones fan, either. I was amazed to discover that this huge music fan ONLY owned and collected records by the Rolling Stones --- nothing else! He used to have a direct line to getting import UK singles. He had a guy buy and send him whatever was on the English charts. "Ken" ended up selling all those great records after he decided to only own Stones records. I got about a hundred of them. I think Greg Shaw bought the rest. "Ken" was one of the most private people I’ve ever met. As close as we were (and we were pretty damn close), I didn’t find out he was married to his second wife until about two years after the fact. His first wife was the sister of Dub’s girlfriend. Both gals were incredibly gorgeous. Dub saw himself as a composer and artist and was another huge music fan. His tastes were more diverse than that of "Ken". Dub really liked a lot of the modern classical composers, like Edgard Varese. Dub had a pretty solid knowledge of classical music. He knew what was well performed and recorded and what was not. When CDs first came into existence, he sold them out of his girlfriend’s house (she was a top fashion designer). About 85% of my initial CD collection came from Dub. Both guys were sharp businessmen and pretty tight with their dough.

Can you remember where in California they were based back then?

The Los Angeles area.

Did you get the choice of which covers you did at all, or were you given the artist, album name, song titles etc. up front ?

I was given everything up front. I never passed on doing a cover. We shared similar tastes, so I was never asked to do a cover for a group I didn’t like. Since I was only being paid $50 per cover I was given complete freedom to do whatever I wanted for the cover. I often changed to title of the LP to go with the art, which sometimes drove Dub nuts. At first, after All Meat Music, I used to knock them out because I was only being paid fifty bucks per cover. Then, I asked myself, "If you’re not doing them for the money, then why are you doing them?" I took a completely new attitude and approach and decided that, regardless of what I was being paid, I was going to do my best work. I also decided to hold Trademark of Quality to their name, and continually push for higher and higher quality bootleg LPs and packaging.

And on a similar theme, were you given complete artistic freedom on each cover or did they ever brief you on what they wanted ?

They never told me what to do. The cover content and style was always up to me, as long as I included all the pertinent information like band name and track listing.

Was it the first paid (art) work you did?

I got my first paying art job while I was in high school. I drew political cartoons for the Conejo Vally News-Chronicle, the local newspaper in Thousand Oaks. My first national exposure came when I did the covers and illustrations to the first four issues of the horror pulp magazine Coven 13. The first issue was in 1968, while I was in my second year at art school. I attended the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts; we referred to the school by its old name: the Chouinard Art Institute). The Illustration Department had a great policy. If you got any real jobs in the outside world, you could substitute them in lieu of your homework. By my last year and a half nearly everything I was turning in was professional work. It made the transition from Academia to the real world absolutely seamless.

Can you remember what they used to pay for a boot cover? (As Monty Python said.... "If it's not a personal question" !!!)...

I got $50 per bootleg cover, bumped up to $100 each for the color covers (I pushed TMOQ to start printing the front covers in color). Crappy pay even back then but it was big time fun. Plus, my rent was only about $90 per month during that period.

Was it just Dub & Ken that you knew from that world or did you also get to meet Kurt Gleimser (your drawing of Jagger was used on the K&S version of 'Burning At The Hollywood Paladium'), John Wizardo, Andrea Waters, the Rubber Dubber guy or any of the other bootleg producers from that era?

I met a few of the other bootleggers, usually at the Hollywood Record Swap Meet in the Capitol Records parking lot. For the most part they were pretty sleazy and seemed untrustworthy. This intuitive feeling was borne out when the other bootleggers started stealing TMOQ’s recordings and putting them out on their own labels. Meeting them made me glad I was working with "Ken" and Dub. I don’t think I ever met the Rubber Dubber --- but I bought his records. I don’t think I ever heard of Kurt.

Did anyone else approach you to do work for them?

I think the other bootleggers were too intimidated by "Ken" and Dub to ask me to do covers for them. It was probably perceived of as a "turf" thing.

Did the bootleg artwork ever lead to any more 'official' commercial work?

Not directly. Through creating the covers I was building up my chops as an artist, though, so that when I did get my first "legitimate" cover gig , I was all ready to do good, solid professional work. My pals at Rhino followed what I was doing, so when their company started up, they immediately gave me a call. The bootleg work also led to my becoming the art director for BOMP! magazine. I eventually created a lot of "legitimate" covers, mostly for Columbia.

The Who - Who's Zoo

It became well known that upon John Entwistle first seeing a copy of Who’s Zoo, he began to realize just how much rare and unreleased Who stuff there was out there. It inspired him to compile and officially release Odds and Sods. For the expanded CD release of Odds and Sods, I was contacted by The Who. They asked my permission to use my Radio London cover as the picture disc image for Odds and Sods. I enthusiastically allowed them to do just that.
I ran into David Skye, a fan of my bootleg covers, at the Pasadena Record Swap Meet. David made an interesting proposal to me. He was a huge bootleg collector. His idea was to compile multi-disc sets that would collect the very best bootleg recordings and then release them legitimately with the cooperation of the respective bands. The bands would get royalties for the CDs and not have to do any work, other than approving the content and covers. David asked me if I would like to do the covers. I thought it was a great idea. The "official bootlegs" were initially released by Shout! Factory. I did covers for Todd Rundgren, The Nice, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Iggy Pop. I only ran into one major problem on that project. I’m a huge fan of The Nice. I did a cover featuring Azrael, the Angel of Death, on the cover, as The Nice had released two different songs about Azrael. Keith Emerson called up.
"I LOVE the cover," he said. "And we can’t use it."
Huh?
"Why not?"
"The drummer just died. If his widow saw the Angel of Death on the cover she would freak."
So, I created a new cover for The Nice collection, illustrating "Flower King of Flies" instead. The rejected cover was printed in the art book, Flesk Prime. It turns out that Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens is a fan of my boot covers. He phoned me up and asked me to do two bootleg-style CD covers for The Smithereens, which I did. Pat’s a great guy; we’ve got lots in common.

Do you have any personal favourites from the covers you did?

The Rolling Stones: All Meat Music, Welcome to New York, Summer Re-runs, Bright Lights Big City, Cops and Robbers; The Who: Who’s Zoo, Tales From The Who; The Yardbirds: More Golden Eggs; Bob Dylan: Melbourne Australia; Paul McCartney & Wings: Great Dane; Led Zeppelin: Burn Like a Candle.
When Who’s Zoo came out, I delivered a copy to Greg Shaw, who had furnished us with some of the rare Who singles included on the LP. Upon seeing the LP for the first time, Greg whooped, "It looks like a REAL RECORD!"
I’m also really proud of The Yardbirds LP More Golden Eggs, not just because I think it’s one of my best covers, but because it was the very first semi-legitmate bootleg release. During the production of the LP I discovered that Yardbirds lead singer Keith Relf was living nearby (he was putting together Armageddon). We called him up. In exchange for our coming over and taping an interview with Keith as he listened to and commented on our record, we would pay his rent for that month. He agreed. "Ken" (identified as "Baby Ray" in the interview, from Frank Zappa’s "Baby Ray and the Ferns") and I interviewed him. We took photos and got his autograph, all of which were used in the bootleg, which included a five-page insert of the complete interview.

Bob Dylan - Melbourne Rolling Stones - Cops & Robbers The Yardbirds - More Golden Eggs
Rolling Stones - Summer Re-Runs

Tales From The Who was the first quadraphonic bootleg. My cover was an homage to the great old E.C. horror comics of the 1950s, like Tales From the Crypt.

The Who - Tales From The Who

All of the pig caricatures were fantastic! And seemed just so perfect for bootleg art! The perfect combination of humour, subversion and as Zappa used to say.. Conceptual Continuity..... and on the same subject, Dub & Ken had already been using the 'farm pig' logo on their stickers before they hired you but whose idea was it to carry this theme further into the caricatures... yours or theirs?

The pig thing was fun. It started a weird rumor in the Hollywood music scene, though, that I was into having sex with pigs. Little minds with too much time, I guess. The pig thing all started because at that point in time I felt that rock 'n’ roll was taking itself much too seriously. It was getting pretty pretentious. I thought I’d puncture those ego balloons with a few well-placed pig caricatures (because the symbol of TMOQ was a dictionary image of a pig). It was meant to be subversive. It was done with the hope that pop stars might re-examine themselves a bit and re-find a way to laugh at themselves and not take themselves so seriously.

The Beatles - Spicy Beatles Songs The Beatles - Get Back Sessions II The Grateful Dead - Hollywood Palladium Neil Young - Boulder Colorado

I promised Ollie of Record Paradise, though, that I would never draw Mick Jagger as a pig. She loved Mick, who used to visit the shop whenever he was in L. A. When he came by, Ollie would load him up with our bootlegs. I did a lot of drawings of Mick (the TMOQ guys were huge Stones fans) but I kept that promise of never drawing him as a pig. I felt bad about drawing Yoko as a pig (Get Back Sessions II); she was already getting more than her share of shit from Beatles fans. I heard later that she loved my notorious BeatleSongs cover, the one that featured Mark Chapman on the cover, the cover that got me and Rhino Records all of those death threats.

What bands were you really into at that time ?... from what I've gathered from your website your taste in music is pretty wide...

It’s very wide. The only music genre I really can’t stand is rap music. I hate songs whose lyrics are made to be more important than the music. For that reason, it took me a very long time to get into Bob Dylan --- and most folk music, for that matter (there are many exceptions, of course, Joni Mitchell being one of them). Lyric-heavy songs (like the crap in the musical version of Les Miserables) leave me cold because of their emphasis on 'the words'. I don’t need to hear or try to understand lyrics to enjoy and appreciate Beethoven.
I really don’t give a shit about lyrics. I can appreciate them when they’re good, like the Rolling Stones’ lyrics, but knowing them is not necessary for me to enjoy the Stones’ music. That those bad boys have good lyrics is just more frosting on a cake that’s already rich enough for me. I never even knew the Stones had great lyrics until "Ken" pointed them out to me. I was more intrigued by their overall sound. I think the Stones were, too; they always buried Mick’s vocals in the mix.
The genre I love the most is blues. That’s my desert island music. I just completed a book on the blues, Legends of the Blues. It contains 100 color portraits of my favorite blues musicians born prior to 1930. I also wrote each of the bios. The next volume will be Legends of the British Blues.
But to directly answer your question, my favorite bands back then were The Yardbirds, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Jeff Beck, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Nice, and The Kinks. I was a total Anglophile. And I loved the Beach Boys. I also never missed Boz Scaggs.

Do you have many boots in your own collection these days ?

Not compared to my friend Ross Halfin! Each time he goes to Japan with Jimmy Page (Ross is Jimmy’s official photographer), he comes back with literally hundreds of boots. I think I have what you would call a decent bootleg collection: about 100 (or fewer) LPs and about 200 (or fewer) CDs. Nothing extraordinary, although I do own some highly sought after boots, like Bob Dylan’s Ten of Swords box set. I purchased my first bootleg record album, Bob Dylan’s Great White Wonder, at Peaches Records, a large legitimate record store on Hollywood Boulevard. I bought my second bootleg, the Rolling Stones’ LIVEr Than You’ll Ever Be at the same shop. Both had similar covers: completely white with the title of the LP rubberstamped on the blank cover in blue.

I thought we'd finally managed to get all your bootleg covers up on the site, but according to your website there were 45 created by you and we've only got 37 (plus the generic 'Pigs in the bootleg warehouse' one which is going up shortly)....have we missed any?

You probably missed the non-rock bootlegs. As big a market as there is for rock bootlegs, it’s dwarfed by the ferocious demand for bootleg movie soundtracks. Here is what you may have overlooked:
PIG'S EYE (TMQ Budget Label)
The Rolling Stones - Honolulu
The Who - Rock and Roll Who-Chee-Koo!

SOUND STAGE RECORDINGS/SCARCE RARITIES PRODUCTIONS
Annie Get Your Gun soundtrack (Judy Garland version)
Various (Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, etc.) - Dick Tracy in B flat
Raintree County soundtrack
Ethel Merman - Something for The Boys
Gloria DeHaven, Van Johnson, June Allyson - Two Girls and a Sailor
Miklos Rozsa - The Film World of Miklos Rozsa

VEDETTE RECORDS
Vedette Records logo design
Plus: Standard covers for Dick Haymes, Betty Hutton, Gloria DeHaven

LONG LIVE THE SMOKING PIG
Led Zeppelin - Burn Like A Candle

Do you look back on those days with affection, being young and somewhat at the heart of the Californian artistic/music scene?.....

I loved those times! Los Angeles was the best place to be in the world back then. We had just about all of the best groups; the ones that didn’t come from L. A. usually ended up recording and playing here. Jeff Beck (back when Rod Stewart was his lead singer) played here a lot because he had a girlfriend here (Mary Hughes, immortalized in his Yardbirds song "Psycho Daisies"). I saw so many great concerts at such ridiculously cheap prices it’s almost embarrassing to tell people what I experienced.
Here’s one example: At a Shrine Exposition Hall concert in 1968 the opening act was the original Steve Miller Band with Boz Scaggs. They were followed by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. After that group came The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. I haven’t even mentioned the headliner: The Who. Each band played two sets. The Who (who were promoting their brand new --- and best --- LP, The Who Sell Out) smashed their instruments at the end of their second set. The place was only half full; you could get as close as you wanted to the stage. I got backstage at this show and met Keith Moon (well, I ran into Keith in the men’s room), Roger Daltrey and Arthur Brown. The price of admission? $2.50 in advance; $3.00 at the door.
The music scene in the late '60s wasn’t that huge; it hadn’t become a "scene" yet, so the only kids who attended the concerts back then were the people who were huge fans of the music. It was easy to get backstage; you could easily meet any pop star you cared to meet. You could bring cameras and tape recorders to shows. That all changed with "stadium rock".

.....Or do you feel that the spirit of that age has continued through to today in California?

In some ways yes, in some ways no. It’s so much more expensive to experience live music now, certainly if you want to see what are considered the "Classic Rock" bands. I find it enormously ironic that a fan will have to pay huge sums of money to see old geezers (with key band members missing due to deaths) perform their hits now when they could have seen them in their youthful prime for just a few bucks.
My sons love "Classic Rock". I saw The Who were coming to town, so I thought I’d buy us all tickets for their show. I called the venue and was told that tickets started at $80 each. Started! Those were the bad seats! I started laughing on the phone.
"Eighty bucks? Hey! These guys are old! Their best album came out over twenty years ago! Their brilliant drummer won’t be playing with them because he’s dead (John Entwistle had not yet perished at that time)! I saw these guys debut Tommy for five bucks and I was right against the stage! I had to duck to avoid getting hit by Roger Daltrey’s microphone all through the show!"
I also don’t get sitting politely to enjoy rock 'n’ roll. That goes against the very essence of what rock 'n’ roll is all about. Rock should be hot, sweaty, and subversive. You should experience it on your feet, as close to the stage as possible. It should make you want to move or dance --- not sit and politely applaud after each number. I found the best way to enjoy rock is to pay close attention to magazines like Mojo and Q. Watch for great bands on the rise and then try to catch them in a small club before they become big. That’s how I was able to take my youngest son to see the White Stripes in a tiny little club in Pomona. Jack White later said it was their best gig of the tour --- and it only cost me fifteen bucks per ticket.

To have achieved the success you have right through to today I would assume you are a pretty driven person who would continue to find positives?

I am one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet. I also have an incredibly strong work ethic and am devoted to a constant pursuit of excellence. Although I consider myself a pretty Old School artist (not too many digital skills), I keep trying to learn new things each day; I keep pushing myself. So, driven? Yes.

I remember some years ago you told me that you met the Floyd in Los Angeles on their first US tour, and that you introduced Roger Waters to some local err…Talent.

That was a great Shrine show. The headliner was the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Mickey Waller. The middle group was Blue Cheer. The opening group was billed on the poster thus: "Introducing Pink Floyd". I already owned Floyd’s first LP. I especially loved Syd Barrett’s songs. Their second LP had just been released and Syd was no longer in the band. This was Pink Floyd’s first show in the United States. I got backstage and met all three groups in their respective dressing rooms. Pink Floyd were very friendly. I had my Polaroid camera with me and took some shots of the band. That camera blew their minds. They had never seen a camera that could give you a photograph minutes after taking a picture. I asked about Syd and David Gilmour’s eyes began to well up with tears. I could see instantly that Syd’s departure was still a very sensitive subject (and would remain so for years). I really hit it off with Roger Waters. There was this little doe-eyed maybe-groupie hanging out inside their dressing room. I could see Roger was lonely and attracted to her. I began acting as Roger’s wing man, trying to subtly extol the virtues and glories of a magical night spent with Roger. It seemed to be going pretty well with those two by the time I left the dressing room. Glad to help out! The next night I went to see a new film. The new movie was very popular, so there was a line to get in. As I was walking to find my place at the end of the line, someone shouted "Bill!" It was Roger Waters. In unison, the other band members said, "The Polaroid guy!" and insisted I get in line with them. Great guys!

What did you think of them back then, as people and as a live band? 'Cos it was a real transition period for them back then and I'm certain you must have seen hundreds of bands at that time to compare them to, your views would be really valid..... there aren't too many eye witness accounts out there...and few who met them....

I was originally turned on to Pink Floyd by a bass player I knew. We kept running into each other and playing with each other at auditions (I was a drummer at the time). He raved about their music, so I took a chance and bought Piper At The Gates of Dawn. I loved it! "See Emily Play" is still one of my favorite songs (I know it wasn’t on the UK LP, but it was on the American version of that album).
Pink Floyd, even without Syd, put on a helluva show. The music was very psychedelic. Roger had become the front man. He performed most of the vocals and did lots of interesting trippy sounds with his voice, like singing and making sounds while inhaling rather than exhaling. A Saucerful of Secrets and the live half of Ummagumma are pretty representative of what they were doing on stage back then. I loved their music already but I became a big fan and collector of their work after seeing them live, although I never saw them again after that weekend.

Did you take photos of them that night?

Yes!

Do you still have them?

Yes! One’s good. The other of them playing is pretty crappy.

Could we (please!) have a scan of one to accompany this interview?

Certainly; see attachments.

Pink Floyd - LA Shrine '68
Pink Floyd - LA Shrine '68

Obviously over the years you have carved out a very successful career as an artist (no mean feat!).... Do you still get approached much by bootleg freaks (like me!) who want to talk about the old stuff you did?

There was a lull, but then nostalgia began rearing its head. I get asked about that part of my history on a regular basis now. Fans really want to see a book collecting all of my covers. I’m working on it. It’s my most requested book.

Finally... And perhaps most controversially... As an artist in this day and age, your work is easy to find and copy.... And of course (like everyone else on the planet) you like to be paid for the work you do and have done...

Yes, I do. I make 20% of my annual income from licensing images from my past body of work.

This of course flies in the face of the TMOQ days when the artists on the boots weren't paid for their work....

Actually, royalties were set aside by TMOQ for every artist whose recordings they released. Some collected, others didn’t feel it was worth the effort. You have to realize these were pretty small press runs, so the royalties didn’t amount to all that much.

......How do you feel about that these days?

It could be (and has been) argued that making and selling bootleg albums is illegal. But drawing and painting covers for albums (even if the LPs themselves are illegal) has never been illegal. I never broke the law. The bootleg LPs were going to come out whether I did covers for them or not. So, would you rather have an LP with a shitty cover done by the bootleggers (the norm until I came along) or one with a decent cover by a guy who really loves that band and their music?

Of course your work from those days is so iconic to bootleg collectors and makers, that your artwork from those days is constantly being 'recycled' by modern bootleggers... No doubt without any renumeration to you. What are your feelings on this subject?

They should contact me and cut a deal. I’m pretty easy to find. The Italian company, Great Dane Records, did that. I got paid in bootleg CDs. At the very least, I should get a free copy of the CD that contains my art from the people who stole it, don’t you think?

Is it OK for modern bootleggers to continue to use your work, and also sell T-shirts and mugs with the pig logo, or does it bug you?

It’s illegal and I doggedly pursue every single infringement that is brought to my attention. I make them pay or I shut them down. You really don’t want to see that side of me. I have to do that, or I lose my copyrights. Legally, I can’t pick and choose, and only go after "Deep Pockets" offenders. By law, I have to go after each and every violation.

Thanks so much for your time Bill..... best wishes from all your fans at the bootleg guide.

Peace & love to all you guys and gals!

All Artwork On This Page is copyright © William Stout 2005