Lucille Ball was an American TV star of the 1950s and had acted in the movie Too Many Girls (1940). When due to a 1980s comeback she had received a complete dental prosthetis, Mrs. Ball raised alarm. She complained about constantly hearing Japanese radio stations. Lucille Ball had caused a lot of trouble to the Rolling Stones already in 1978 when objecting against her face being printed on the cover of their album Some Girls. For the sleeve, Hubert Kretzschmar had turned wig ads from the old magazine Jet into something entirely new. A series of trials followed. On the original inner sleeve (which could be removed), more glamour girls were depicted who likewise threatened the Stones with legal action: Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli (on behalf of her mother Judy Garland), Raquel Welch and the heirs of Marylin Monroe. Mick Jagger having apologized to Liza Minnelli in Studio 54 later on is probably nothing more than showbiz rumour. Eartha Kitt, Brigitte Bardot and Liz Taylor, however, didn‘t seem to have any problem with the use of their portraits – or were just too cool to say so.
Peter Corriston, who would also design the next three Rolling Stones covers and the illustrator Hubert Kretzschmar had to replace the stars’ heads with those of the Rolling Stones in next to no time, painting their lips brightly red. Thus Kretzschmar fabulously transfered the androgynous image of Mick Jagger onto the entire band and the female film stars; unpublished sketches show even more daring experiments with the likenesses of Jimmy Carter, Boris Karloff and others. But feminists and even the civil rights activist Jesse Jackson were up in arms against the title song in which Mick Jagger mumbled “black girls want to get fucked all night/I just don‘t have that much jam”. The “starfuckers” self-irony in these and many other songs’ lyrics was obviously lost on them. “You can’t take a joke, it’s too fucking bad” was Mick Jagger’s comment on the affair – who, by the way, mocks women of all colors in Some Girls.
It wasn‘t one of the Rolling Stones‘ best albums, and they knew it. Amidst the arrival of punk and at the height of disco, the superstars of stadium rock had knocked together this hymn on New York in a Parisian recording studio. In his autobiography Life, Keith Richards insists that the album contained a few hits after all: Beast of Burden, Respectable and Miss You (their last # 1 in the U.S. to date). While Richards jammed along perfectly with drummer Charlie Watts, Jagger’s vocals sounded keyed-up, as if he had put his finger into a power socket, almost a caricature of himself. Keith Richards must have thought the same, who liked Jagger‘s harmonica play and asked him why he didn‘t sing like that.
Yet the cover of Some Girls ranks is one of the best in the enormous discography of the Rolling Stones. It’s more than an eye-catcher, it’s art – the cover of Some Girls is an icon of pop culture. When Henning Schmitz, one of the four members of Kraftwerk, showed me the original artwork a few weeks ago in his studio in xp 1 in Cologne, the luminosity, originality and unconventional aesthetics of Kretzschmar’s original artwork became obvious. Hubert Kretzschmar had presented the record as a gift to Henning Schmitz when Kraftwerk played all their albums live in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1994, Some Girls was re-released with a partial restoration of the original artwork, and in 2011, a ‘Super-Deluxe edition’ including eleven previously unpublished songs.
Hubert Kretzschmar was born in 1954 in Karlsruhe, studied at Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen and with Joseph Beuys in Düsseldorf. In 1978, he moved to New York and worked in photography, video and computer graphics, applying new techniques to the process. Here he met Peter Corriston, a graphic designer who had done the artwork for records by Led Zeppelin, New York Dolls, Jethro Tull among others. Together, they created the sleeve design for the Rolling Stones’ albums Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, Tattoo You and Undercover. In the 1980s, Kretzschmar was involved in the Graffitti-art-scene and designed record sleeves for Iggy Pop, Kraftwerk, Led Zeppelin and other bands as well as designing for companies such as Apple, Sony, Time Warner and Nike, to name just a few.
Hubert Kretzschmar a.k.a HubertArt exhibits his work at art fairs and galleries around the globe.
TEXT by Karl Lippegaus