Album covers

Nancy writes:

When I was a child, I remember often thinking I am the only one on the face of the earth looking out from behind these eyes.  It awed me.

Every cow, every turkey, every pig, every chicken, every lamb, every goat, every duck, every deer, every animal and human being that we disrespect and destroy …. they all have their own vantage point of the world, shared by no other.

No one is just a ‘fuckin’ anything.

Your aim might be to ride from point A to point B, but the horse you ride has a different mind and a different view.  Be grateful for the ride and feel communion with your aide.

I’ll now begin this chronicle of the writings and life experiences of one Nancy Reiner (half-sister, father’s first child) by referencing briefly what she was perhaps best known for:  her album cover art.  Not that Nancy is, or was ever really known!

The credits are there on the album covers, but Nancy was known to a very, very few number of souls present or past, a fact which is sadly incommensurate with her talent.  (Roby in Black Gold references the notes in which a photographer, come to shoot Jimi in his studio, described Nancy on the side sketching Jimi while he played.  None of Hendrix’ other biographers, of which there are many, mention her at all.)

Nancy sketched vantage points in all the faces of the subjects of her album cover art.  Her portrait of Jimi of course leaves the viewer to imagine a kaleidoscope of emotion inside his head, where he seems to occupy a “room full of mirrors.

As is the case with all of Nancy’s writing, however, most of the context is lost.  Snippets of a pithy and empathic vision, expressed in words without context, pictures without stories — is all she left behind.

Perhaps any additional framing with facts, dates, locations and settings would have added little to the breadth of her vision, and may even have detracted from it.

Be that as it may, Nancy is responsible for the art on at least six different covers that I am aware of.  She did two for the jazz organist, Jack McDuff.  One for his album Do It Now

Brother Jack McDuff Do It Now

And one for the album, Getting Our Thing Together

Brother Jack McDuff Getting Our Thing Together

Nancy also did a cover for blues musician, Jimmy Witherspoon.

Jimmy Witherspoon Blues Is Now

And she sketched the great jazz pianist and composer, Bill Evans‘ for alone.

Bill Evans Alone no caption

And she is the artist responsible for the cover of Eric Burdon and the Animals’, Eric is Here.  (‘Chas’ Chandler, the original bassist for the Animals, later became Jimi’s co-manager with Mike Jeffery)

Eric is Here

And of course, the most recognizable one of all, her sketch of Jimi, for Cry of Love!

Cry of love cover

Her art gave Nancy a lens to entertain the vantage points of many great musicians.  She sketched others besides these six, including Frank Zappa, but the artwork is lost.

Perhaps had she gotten around to sketching turkeys, pigs and horses, who knows what she might have shown us from their vantage points!  None were just “fuckin turkeys” to her.

Nancy’s portrait of Jimi followed an unlikely path, which was fine with her:

I liked putting my artwork on album covers because the work traveled with the album and reached places I’d never even know.  The original — it goes on one wall somewhere, if you’re lucky, and it’s then subject to any kind of treatment. 

Eventually I sold the original (of Jimi) to the Hard Rock Cafe, not only cause I needed a little money, but because I was afraid that if I would die, it would be put on the street like all stuff is put on the street when people die, in a black plastic bag.  Now it was safe.

Years before that I had tried to give it away twice.  But it was rejected twice.

The first rejection came from my mother who returned it because my grandmother “didn’t like black people.”

The second rejection came from my “spiritual mother,” who is black.  Her son threw it back at me saying, “how dare you give my mother a picture of a hop-head rock star.”

The drawing itself got treated with the same disrespect with which Jimi got treated.  It’s almost religious.

TS

2 Replies to “Album covers”

  1. Hello. My husband was a rock promoter in the late 60s, early to mid 70s. I have been going thru his archives and came across and amazing little book called “The Adventures of JJ or The greatest little soul band in the land. It was written and illustrated by Nancy Reiner. She dates it as of 1969. I am not sure if this is the only one. Here illustrations are pen and ink, just amazing details. The writing is poetic and funny. I just discovered this little treasure the other day. Your sister was quite the artist. I can’t believe there isn’t more info on her.

    1. I’m speechless whenever more material linked to Nancy surfaces. I imagine it as handwritten, on blank white paper, which is what I inherited from Nancy. But perhaps you’re talking about an actual book, with a cover even. I don’t know, but how exciting. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *