This was Funky Features' second poster, but the first one we produced ourselves. It was composited from 56 layers of film, the most complex graphic image ever assembled to that time. It was horrendously expensive to produce. You might note the photo of the "English gent" in the newspaper...that's yours truly, taken in the knee-high weeds in the back yard of 142 Central.
I was staying up all night working on a dance poster for a charity gig, and had the headphones on listening to our buddy, Big Daddy Tom Donohue on KMPX. Big Daddy said he got a call from Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) who had just landed in LA from the Beatles' Abbey Road studio in London, and he had a tape from them specially given to Roger to be played for all the Beatles fans in San Francisco (which was then the center of everything that was happening on the planet) on KMPX, the ONLY stereo rock station in the whole world. This tape would blow everyone away, and he was catching the next plane to San Francisco.
Donohue kept winding up the audience, saying McGuinn was just getting on the plane, he must be over Monterey by now, he's probably landing and we'll get a call from him soon, etc. This was exciting...especially in those days when anything the Beatles did was of tremendous interest.
About midnight, McGuinn walked in the studio, and he and Big Daddy chatted for a few minutes as the excited Roger went on about the mixing session and the great new album the Beatles were going to release in two months (Sgt. Pepper) that would change music forever, blah-blah-blah.
Tom spooled the tape, and I couldn't believe what I heard. This was a quantum leap in anything that had been done up to that time, and was powerful beyond imagination. I was totally blown away...Roger was right! I just had to do a poster of this thing...especially seeing as Light My Fire had taken off and bankrolled us...what a great follow-up this would be!
I woke up Jack and Sam and had them listen to Big Daddy (KMPX played it over and over, the switchboard was going berserk, and the whole city was aware of "A Day in the Life" within two hours). I would get cracking on the artwork and we could have the poster out by the time the album came out!
We did, the poster sold like wildfire alongside the album, and we were rockin'!
When I moved to England in 1970, I took four signed copies of this poster with me for the Fab Four and left them with Walter Shenson, the producer of the movies, "A Hard Day's Night," and "Help," who had grown up in San Francisco and was a little boy when my grandmother, who knew his mother, used to give him treats. Grandma said I should look him up, and when I called him, he asked me to come down to his fancy offices in Mayfair. I walked in, Walter smiled and we shook hands, then he showed me to a huge, red comfy chair which I settled into. Walter returned to his desk, smiled, and said, "John Lennon was just sitting in that chair 20 minutes ago," enjoying hugely the effect it would have on me. I just saw Walter again a couple of weeks ago at his office in Beverly Hills...he was very excited about re-releasing "A Hard Day's Night."
I never met John, but I auditioned for Paul for Wings (along with Mitch Mitchell and several other top names), met the lovely Linda (who I was prepared not to like because of all the adverse publicity she had received...she was charming beyond words and I saw right away what Paul saw in her), and met Ringo at Abbey Road, where we traded psychedelic badges. I still have mine ("Sink the Magic Christian" that Ringo was wearing on his fur coat to publicise the Terry Sothern film he was in with Richard Burton). When Gary Brooker had his 30th anniversary in 1998 in his local village hall and everyone had to wear what they were wearing in 1968, I wore my Ringo button, and he laughed when he saw it.
When I walked into the hall, there were Funky Features posters up all over the place, including this one and Light My Fire, that we had given to Gary and Franky (Gary's lovely and crazy wife) in 1967. There were even some I forgot we did, that I certainly don't have copies of. It was so bizarre to be around 70 people all dressed in 60's gear, with my posters all around us in the depths of the Surrey countryside 5,000 miles away and 30 years later! Very odd...especially with the likes of Ringo and Bill Wyman and other famous musos there who were popular back then (and still kickin'!). Time Warp time big time.
As a party-piece, when there was a break in the jam session, I did one of my famous explosion paintings (I squeezed acrylic tube paint around a firecraker, which held it upright, lit the fuse, and ran away) I was known for in the 60's, using two Camel Brand firecrackers I had saved from way back then, and they worked! Bill Wyman and Ringo, who were sitting just 6 feet away, grabbed a tablecloth and covered themselves with it so as not to be splattered by flying paint. The painting looked great...and if Gary Brooker will get out his whiz-bang digital camera and email me a picture of it, I'll post it here! (are you listening, Gary??? The camera's up in your garage loft, sitting on top of your computer that you never use).
Think that'll motivate him to take a picture of the painting????
"A Day in the Life" is a step-by-step visual representation of the lyrics of the song...and I think I got them all.