Klaus Voormann (born 29 April 1938) is a German artist, musician, and record producer. He designed artwork for many bands including the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Wet Wet Wet and Turbonegro. His most notable work as a producer was his work with the band Trio, including their worldwide hit “Da Da Da“. As a musician, Voormann is best known for being the bassist for Manfred Mann from 1966 to 1969, and for performing as a session musician on a host of recordings, including many by former members of the Beatles.
His association with the Beatles dated back to their time in Hamburg in the early 1960s. He lived in the band’s London flat with George Harrison and Ringo Starr after John Lennon and Paul McCartney moved out to live with their respective partners, and designed the cover of their album Revolver, for which he won a Grammy. Following the band’s split, rumours circulated of the formation of a group named the Ladders, consisting of Lennon, Harrison, Starr and Voormann. This failed to materialise, outside of all four Ladders (plus Billy Preston) performing on the Ringo Starr track “I’m the Greatest“, although Voormann did play on albums by Lennon, Harrison and Starr, and was for a time a member of the Plastic Ono Band. In the 1990s, he designed the artwork for the Beatles Anthology albums.
In 2009, he released his debut solo album A Sideman’s Journey, which featured many notable musicians, including the two surviving members of the Beatles, performing as “Voormann and Friends”.
In the early 1960s, Voormann decided to leave Germany and move to London. George Harrison invited him to live in the Green Street flat in London’s Mayfair, formerly shared by all four members of the Beatles, Lennon and McCartney having moved out: Lennon to live with his wife Cynthia Lennon, and McCartney to live in the attic of the home of Jane Asher‘s parents. Voormann lived with Harrison and Ringo Starr for a time before finding work as a commercial artist and renting an apartment of his own. He returned to Hamburg in 1963, where he founded a band with Paddy Chambers (guitar/vocals), Voormann (bass/vocals) and Gibson Kemp (drums) called Paddy, Klaus & Gibson.
In 1966, Voormann returned to London and was asked by Lennon to design the sleeve for the album Revolver. Klaus had a style of “scrapbook collage” art in mind. When showing his efforts to the band and their manager, Brian Epstein, the band loved it, although Voormann’s payment for the album cover was £40. For this work, Klaus won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts. Voormann later designed the cover art for Harrison’s 1988 single, “When We Was Fab“, which included the image of Harrison from the cover of Revolver along with an updated drawing in the same style.
Around the same time, another group was about to release their international debut album. The Bee Gees had recorded their first album, Bee Gees 1st, and Klaus was hired to design the cover for that album. The album cover featured all five group members standing above a colourful, psychedelic collage painted by Voormann. The following year, artwork by Klaus graced the front cover of the American edition of the Bee Gees‘ album Idea. In 1973, Voormann created the album sleeve and booklet artwork for Ringo Starr’s album Ringo, on which he also played bass.
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