The Brick Did Have to Go

“Well I remember that wall, that brick … Bob Gill and I never quite recovered our compatibility but the brick did have to go. Were we right? Yes.”

Derek Taylor

(recalling difficulties with artist Bob Gill over Harrison’s requested alteration to his cover design)

 
 

Front cover

 
 

Wonderwall Music is the soundtrack album to the film Wonderwall (Joe Massot, 1968), and the debut solo release by English musician George Harrison. It was the first album to be issued on The Beatles‘ Apple record label, and the first solo album by a member of that band. The songs are all instrumental pieces, except for occasional non-English vocals, and a slowed-down spoken word segment on the track Dream Scene. Harrison recorded the album between November 1967 and February 1968, with sessions taking place in London and the Indian city of Bombay. Following his Indian-styled compositions for the Beatles since 1966, he used the film soundtrack to further promote Indian classical music by introducing rock audiences to musical instruments that were relatively little-known in the West – including shehnai, sarod and santoor. During the sessions, Harrison recorded many other pieces that appeared in Wonderwall but not on the soundtrack album, and the Beatles’ song The Inner Light also originated from his time in Bombay. Although the album’s release in November 1968 marked the end of Harrison’s direct involvement with Indian music, it inspired his later collaborations with Ravi Shankar, including the 1974 Music Festival from India.

For the front cover of Wonderwall Music (, American artist Bob Gill painted a picture in the style of Belgian surrealist René Magritte. The painting shows a formally dressed man “separated by a huge red brick wall from a group of happy bathing Indian maidens”, Bruce Spizer writes. Apple executive Derek Taylor, whom Harrison had invited to help run the Beatles’ label in early 1968, later recalled of Gill’s submission: “It was a nice painting but missed the essence of hope.” To Gill’s chagrin, Harrison requested that a brick be removed from the wall, because he deemed it important to “give the fellow on the other side a chance, just as the Jack MacGowran character had a chance [in the film]”.

 
 

Back cover

 
 

For the back cover, Harrison chose a photo of part of the Berlin Wall, which designers John Kelly and Alan Aldridge then manipulated and mirrored to represent a corner. Taylor describes the result as innovative for its time, with the wall made to look “proud and sharp as the prow of a liner”.

 
 

 
 

The sleeve was designed so that the rear face appeared upside down relative to the front. In America, some copies of the LP had the Berlin Wall image mistakenly printed on the front, which made for “a less than exciting cover to be sure”, in Madinger and Easter’s opinion. Included on the LP’s sleeve insert was a black-and-white photograph of Harrison taken by Astrid Kirchherr (credited as Astrid Kemp, since 1967, Kirchherr married English drummer Gibson Kemp).

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A Short Diversion

Photos: Astrid Kirchherr

 
 


A SHORT DIVERSION ON THE DUBIOUS ORIGINS OF BEATLES

(Translated From The John Lennon)

Mersey Beat, July 6th, 1961. Page 2 of issue No. 1.

Once upon a time there were three little boys called John, George and Paul, by name christened. They decided to get together because they were getting together type. When there were together they wondered what for after all, what for? So all of a sudden they grew guitars and fashioned noise. Funnily enough, no one was interested, least of all the three little men. So-o-o-o on discovering a fourth little even little man called Stuart Sutcliffe running about them they said, quite “Sonny get a bass guitar and you will be alright” and he did – but he wasn’t alright because he couldn’t play it. So they sat on him with comfort ‘til he could play. Still there was no beat, and a kindly old man said, quote “Thou hast not drums!” We had no drums! they coffed. So a series of drums came and went and came.

Suddenly, in Scotland, touring with Johnny Gentle, the group (called the Beatles called) discovered they had not a very nice sound – because they had no amplifiers. They got some.

Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them “From this day on you are Beatles with an “A”. Thank you, mister man, they said, thanking him.

And then a man with a beard cut off said – will you go to Germany (Hamburg) and play mighty rock for peasants for money? And we said we would play mighty anything for money.

But before we could go we had to grow a drummer, so we grew one in West Derby in a club called Some Casbah and his trouble was Pete Best. We called “Hello Pete, come off to Germany” “Yes!” Zooooom. After a few months, Pete and Paul (who is called McArtrey, son of Jim McArtrey, his father) lit a Kino (cinema) and the German police said “Bad Beatles”, you must go home and light your English cinemas”. Zooooom, half a group. But before even this, the Gestapo had taken my friend little George Harrison (of Speke) away because he was only twelve and too young to vote in Germany; but after two months in England he grew eighteen and the Gestapoes said “you can come”. So suddenly all back in Liverpool Village were many groups playing in grey suits and Jim said “Why have you no grey suits?” “We don’t like them, Jim” we said, speaking to Jim.

After playing in the clubs a bit, everyone said “Go to Germany. So we are. Zooooom Stuart gone. Zooooom John (of Wolton) George (of Speke) Peter and Paul zoom zoom. All of them gone. Thank you club members from John and George (what are friends).