Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Frank Frazetta 1928-2010: Rest In Peace

The world lost a great artist Monday when Frank Frazetta passed away at the age of 82. I’ve been a fan of his artwork since the early seventies when I got my first paperbacks of the Robert E. Howard (and L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter) fantasy character Conan. My first two books in the series were “Conan the Conqueror” and “Conan of Cimmeria” and the art from both covers would later surface on record albums – Molly Hatchet’s “Beatin’ the Odds” and Dust’s “Hard Attack.” Characteristic of Frazetta's art - the men were invincible and the women beautiful.

While Frazetta’s cover art would attract heavier bands from the 70s onward, he also produced a number of covers for soundtracks one of which brought his name to the forefront. His first soundtrack cover was an adaptation of the poster he designed for the movie “What’s New Pussycat.” The opportunity to do that poster and album cover came when executives at United Artists saw Frazetta’s parody in Mad Magazine of a Breck Shampoo ad. The ad for Blecch featured Frazetta’s depiction of Ringo Starr and ad copy reminiscent of Breck ads. Frazetta admitted that doing the poster earned him more in one day than he earned in the entire previous year.

His second LP was comedian Earl Doud’s “Welcome to the LBJ Ranch” which was followed up by “Both Sides of Herman’s Hermits.” Other movie soundtracks where his art graced the LP covers included “Hotel Paradiso”; “Fitzwilly”; “The Fastest Guitar Alive”; “The Night they Raided Minsky’s”; “Yours, Mine, and Ours”; and “The Gauntlet.” While he produced a number of soundtrack covers, the reuse of his existing art for album covers introduced his talents to a younger generation.

Dust: Hard Attack

Dust, an early heavy metal band from New York, only produced two albums in their short career. The band’s second LP incorporated Frazetta’s “The Snow Giants” which had previously appeared on the cover of “Conan of Cimmeria.”

Released in 1972, this was my first Frazetta LP cover and I’m featuring “Walk in the Soft Rain.”

Nazareth: Expect No Mercy

In 1977, Scottish rockers Nazareth released their ninth studio album “Expect No Mercy” that adapted Frazetta’s “the Brain” for its cover.

Here’s “All the King’s Horses”:

Three by Molly Hatchet

Molly Hatchet, a southern rock band from Jacksonville, Florida, probably did more to raise awareness of Frazetta’s art than anyone else as their first three album covers featured his work.

“The Death Dealer” was the basis of the cover of the first album.

“Flirtin’ with Disaster” utilized the painting “Dark Kingdom.”

Album three, “Beatin’ the Odds,” featured the Frazetta work “Berserker.”

The most popular Molly Hatchet song was the title cut from their second LP “Flirtin’ with Disaster.”

Last night, I remembered Frank Frazetta by listening to these classic rock tunes while thumbing through my copies of the three volume set, “The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta.” Rest in Peace Frank.

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