Drew Friedman paints Robert Crumb presenting Cheap Thrills album cover to Janis Joplin

200903081717

Our pal Drew Friedman painted this great moment in freak history.

This recent piece is a depiction of my old friend (and favorite artist) Robert Crumb presenting his original "Cheap Thrills" comic strip cover art to Janis Joplin, (with various members of "The Holding Company" lurking behind), backstage at the Filmore West in San Fran' in 1968. It was commissioned by the private collector who owns the original Crumb "Cheap Thrills" art, as a companion piece to hang along side it in his office. Interestingly, Crumb's original intention was for this art to run on the back cover and a portrait of Joplin to run on the front. But Joplin loved the the comic strip art so much, (she was an avid underground comics fan, especially the work of Crumb, and already at that point in her escalating career, had the power to hire her own cover artist), she decided to run it on the front. It's arguably the SECOND most famous album cover ever, after Sgt. Pepper. One amusing side note: bending no doubt to pressure, Crumb wore his hair for a time at it's longest in '68, which I try to show. Joplin was also encouraging him to "loosen up" and wear "hippie clothes and beads" but he just couldn't go that far.
Drew Friedman paints Robert Crumb presenting Cheap Thrills album cover to Janis Joplin

Previously:

31

  1. The night Janis Joplin died I was working a quadraphonic broadcast in San Francisco of three bands from Winterland. The news went off back stage like a bomb and changed the event. Our DJ announcer had trouble censuring her own naturally blue speech and blurted out some beauties.

    Fast forward some years. We had a Japanese student living with us for a month who walked around dictionary in hand. We were in Golden Gate Park and at the band shell there was a rock group and a pretty good crowd. Sitting out on the apron of the stage was a lone guitarist noddling. When I got closer I realized it was Jerry Garcia. I’m afraid Yumi’s dictionary didn’t have Grateful Dead in it. I tried to explain but eventually gave up.

  2. That album cover was my introduction to Crumb.

    Crumb is God.

    A really fucked up neurotic fetishistic gnarly bug nuts God. But he’s Crumb.

    Cheers.

  3. I was walking in front of the stage at intermission when Janis walked out. The crowd rushed in, smashing me against the stage, right below her mike stand. Yeah, I saw Janis all right!

    And Crumb? I still have my original collection of his comics. These people were where I was at then, and they’re high on my heroes list (among other things…)

    That is one fantastic piece of art, Mr. Friedman!

  4. It’s arguably the SECOND most famous album cover ever, after Sgt. Pepper.

    More famous than Dark Side of the Moon? Hmm.

    Not sure I want to divert the thread into that particular cul-de-sac, but that’s a bold statement, and it deserves at least a “Hmm.”

    (Pretty brilliant painting, tho.)

  5. “One amusing side note: bending no doubt to pressure, Crumb wore his hair for a time at it’s longest in ’68, which I try to show. Joplin was also encouraging him to “loosen up” and wear “hippie clothes and beads” but he just couldn’t go that far”

    Somehow, it’s hard to picture R Crumb as being terminally square.

  6. Amazing as it may sound, Crumb is one of the squarest of all artists, though naturally in his own highly idiosyncratic way.
    I think he’s a genius whose work will be studied and appreciated far beyond his own era. The film Crumb by Terry Zwigoff is a fascinating portrait of a brilliant nutball and his world.
    That Friedman painting is outstanding.

  7. In the absence of punctuation, proper capitalization is the difference between “Holy shit Crumb” and “Holy shit crumb”.

  8. #9…I was thinking the exact same thing! R. Crumb was never as handsome as in this drawing.

    …arguably, neither was Janis. :-(

  9. ross, that documentary was one of the saddest pieces of film i have ever seen. but, apparently the man is hung like a bowhead whale! and i still say mr. friedman shouldn’t be allowed to use color in his illustrations. just too fuckin creepy.

  10. Great album and cover. Thanks for posting this. The adoration poured on Crumb by the hippy/lefty/underground sector always confused me. I’ve seen some of his work that was racist as hell. I’ve seen people pilloried for much less. Can anyone clear this up?

  11. The “racist” stuff, dumb looking negroes with hugely thick lips, were just references to the 1920’s illustrations and animated cartoons which featured such content.

  12. Didn’t R. Crumb get screwed over on the sale of the artwork? Or maybe the publishing deal (or lack thereof) connected to this?

  13. Racism always comes up in discussions of Crumb.
    Artists and their subjects should be treated separately. There’s adequate evidence that the disturbing images of Blacks and women that he dredges up do not represent his character or personal attitudes on those subjects.
    He denies the claim of his monstrous endowment that was made by a former girlfriend.

  14. @#17 POSTED BY THEQUICKBROWNFOX:
    Whatever his references are/were the main reason they are accepted is he has a niche market of astute readers who will take it the right way. Outside of that group it’s pretty easy to understand why someone would cringe about such a portrayal.

    That said, he’s far more sexist than racist and his whole “Our bodies our shelves…” mentality is a tad disturbing.

    Doesn’t mean he’s a bad artist, but he has issues.

  15. “He denies the claim of his monstrous endowment that was made by a former girlfriend.”

    Nope. Aline says so.

  16. “More famous than Dark Side of the Moon? Hmm.

    Not sure I want to divert the thread into that particular cul-de-sac, but that’s a bold statement, and it deserves at least a “Hmm.””

    Abbey Road? The White Album?

  17. I think my head just exploded after getting some kind of funny feelings lookin’ at that Janis body.

  18. Arguably the second most famous album cover?

    I’d argue that it would barely make a top 50 list.

  19. I expect every Beatles album cover is more famous than this. Not because of the designs (although some were quite memorable on their own), but because they’re the freaking Beatles.

  20. I think famous my not be the right word. It could be argued to be the second most iconic album cover, however.

    As for explaining why Crumb gets a pass for shockingly racism and sexism… it has to do with his honesty. He was able to elevate these low elements into true art by looking deep within his own soul. And it’s not leftist per se that give him the pass, it is the spiritual/drug culture, who see exactly what he is doing.

  21. I mentioned earlier that I watched Janis’ concert from right beneath her. She was wearing black pants of a very open mesh. Evidently she had dressed in a hurry, forgetting panties. So for the price of a cheap seat, I got both a closer-than-front-row concert, and a clam dance. I should admit here that I was concerned about being splashed by more than Southern Comfort tho. d8^P

Comments are closed.