John grabbed my cover and held it so close to his eyes that I thought his nose would pierce it. And for the first time I spotted a slightly sheepish look on his face, as if he felt embarrassed that a stranger noticed his short-sightedness. And, apparently, he wasn’t prepared for me confronting him with this question. It only took John a second to switch back to the nonchalant, grumpy rocker and he said in a tight-lipped manner: ‘Go to Stuart… He’s the arty one.’
That was my first contact with the lads, and to be precise, it was already the first step towards John’s phone call, which wasn’t until six years later, when he asked me in the early summer of 1966: ‘Any idea for our next album cover?’
[Klaus Voormann, on broaching the subject of album cover design with John in Hamburg, 1960. From Revolver 50: Birth of an Icon.]
Genesis Publications has announced a Grammy Anniversary edition of Klaus Voormann’s book, Revolver 50: Birth of an Icon, limited to 450 copies. Klaus won a Grammy Award for the artwork on 2nd March 1967, the first of its kind for a rock album.
John was right in the middle of telling a funny story, excitedly fidgeting around with a burning cigarette, when suddenly he stopped, grunted something and let his head fall to his food-filled plate. I laughed, thinking it was another one of those “typical John” jokes, but his head stayed in that position. His eyes remained closed and his breathing was getting heavy. Then he started snoring. I looked around, not knowing what to do, being a little worn-out myself. I was even worried he might have hurt himself, what with his knife laying so near to his eye. When I saw the ash falling from the burning cigarette, which was still perched in his hand, I decided to leave him the way he was. “At least he’ll wake up,” I thought, “when the cigarette burns down to his fingers.” Then I began thinking of the lovely fried egg on the plate… My God, what one thinks when an unexpected situation comes up!
After a few minutes passed, he woke up, swearing like mad because of his burned fingers, and started to eat his spiegelei as if nothing had happened. “That’s ice cold, that junk!”
“I met him for the first time in art school. He came a little later than the start of term and we were in the same class. He was the only boy amongst all these girls, the poor thing, so he had a hard time. I was attracted to his kindness first of all and his absolutely beautiful looks and in a way his sadness. He was very lonely and he didn’t have a nice time. He had to live with a teacher from the art school and he gave him a very hard time, he had to work all the time and it was terrible for him. So that’s what I liked about him, and he was absolutely brilliant, a very talented young man. The photographs on the beach came about following an invitation from my mother because we both went for a little trip to the Baltic Sea, and because Klaus was my boyfriend then she said, ‘Well let Klaus come along’ and she booked him a single room so he could have some fun there as well.”
George’s calls were mostly very special, just in the way he answered. He loved to slip into some character roles. I can still clearly remember a very typical George Harrison call. It was in the summer in which that horrible train accident occurred in Eschede. My family and I were just spending a relaxing vacation at an old farm by Murnau.
When we got home, our answering machine was filled with George’s calls. It must have been about twelve, spread over three days. George was, on the one hand, a quiet, peaceful man, who disliked anything hectic, on the other hand he could also display fear and be overly worried. For example, he had, over many years, an immense fear of flying, which caused him to not set foot in an airplane for a period of time.
But back to the phone calls. Call number one was, as usual, in the special Georgie German. ‘Hey, is de Klaus da? Hirr isst Admiral von Hohensteen. Melde mick surück, später… oder so.’
[i.e, Hey, is Klaus there? This is Admiral von Hohenstein. I’ll get back to you later… or something.]
Call number two: 'Ik mökte gern de Klaus spreckn. George’s here.’
[i.e. I’d like to speak to Klaus. George’s here.]
Number three the next day: 'Klaus I don’t know if you are at home. Here’s George. Ah… de guta alte Georg. You know, Mister van Schneider, ah… Georg Schneiderrr.’
[i.e. Klaus I don’t know if you are at home. Here’s George. Ah… good old George. You know, Mister van Schneider, ah… Georg Schneiderrr.]
The next calls where in a similar style, but with his voice getting higher and more impatient.
On the third day we heard George’s voice with a playfully hysterical tone. 'Klaus!!!! Where are you? I hope you haven’t been at the train in Eschede. Klaus bitta melden. I’m worrying so much. Klaus call me… Help, Hilfe!! Bitta! Call me any time, any day BUT PLEASE CALL ME BACK!’
When we listened to that tape, we were all on the floor laughing. We kept rewinding it again and again. I called him back immediately, since I knew all too well that if I didn’t, he’d get so worried he would probably send a search party out for me. I wish I had saved that tape, it would be such a funny and typical souvenir of him.’
Klaus Voormann on George Harrison and “Georgie-German,” translated from Warum spielst du Imagine nicht auf dem weißen Klavier, John? [x]
Klaus Voormann’s various interpretations of the Beatles throughout the Years. I love how George is always front and centre of each with his entire features drawn, perhaps a small giveaway that he was Klaus’s favourite Beatle (and human ever). :-)
“George Harrison was my favorite person, I loved him more than anything.”
“He was an independent person who once played in a band called The Beatles. George gave me a lot of humanity and I’m still profiting from that today. He was my best friend.”
“I will never be able to describe in words how much he meant to me and how much I will always miss him.”
- Klaus speaking about George.
- quotes and translations courtesy of the lovely and brilliant thateventuality.