The Man with the Kaleidoscope Eyes

alan aldridge - cavalcadeThe Lion’s Cavalcade (1980) is a book of poems by Ted Walker and illustrated by Alan Aldridge and Harry Willock. The above image accompanies the beginning verse: Lord of the Jungle.

“Whatever can vex Leonis, the Lord of the Golden Savanna,
Omnipotent Rex?
On his sovereign throne
King Lion alone
Commands enormous Africa’s hosanna
From Morocco to the Cape, from Sudan to Sierra Leone”.

Alan Aldridge is an English artist, graphic designer and illustrator. Born in 1943 in East London, he now resides in Los Angeles, USA.  Aldridge first worked as an illustrator at “The Sunday Times Magazine.”  He designed a series of science fiction book covers for Penguin Books. Over the next two years, Aldridge focused on science fiction book covers and introduced his style which resonated with the mood of the time.

In 1968 he moved to his own graphic-design firm, INK, which became closely involved with graphic images for The Beatles and Apple Corps.

  • During the 1960s-1970s, Aldridge was responsible for a great many album covers and helped create the graphic style of the time. He made a big impression with his illustrations for the Beatles Illustrated Song Lyrics.
  • He also provided illustrations for “The Penguin Book of Comics,“a history of British and American comic art. His work was characterized by a flowing, cartoon-style using soft airbrushing – very much in step with the psychedelic style of the time.
  • Aldridge also created the artwork for Elton John’s LP album: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy in 1975.

Aldridge is well known for his book The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast (1973), a series of illustrations of anthropomorphic insects and other creatures, which he created in collaboration with William Plomer, who wrote the accompanying verses.

A retrospective Alan Aldridge – The Man with the Kaleidoscope Eyes featured at the Design Museum in London from 10 October 2008-25 January 2009. No doubt the title of the exhibition was borrowed from The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and reflects his success in illustrating The Beatles book.

As I thumb my way through “The Lion’s Cavalcade” admiring Aldridge’s wonderful illustrations I cannot help but think…

What a magical mystery tour (it is) … waiting to take you away (and that’s an invitation).

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