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Alan Aldridge

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Alan Aldridge
Aldridge in 1971
Born(1938-07-08)8 July 1938
London, England
Died17 February 2017(2017-02-17) (aged 78)
Occupation(s)Artist, illustrator, graphic designer, creative director, graphic entertainer
Years active1965–2017
  • Rita Farthing
  • (divorced)
PartnerAndrea Gayler
Children8, including Miles, Saffron, Lily and Ruby
RelativesCaleb Followill (son-in-law)

Alan Aldridge (8 July 1938[1] – 17 February 2017)[2] was a British artist, graphic designer and illustrator. He is best known for his psychedelic artwork made for books and record covers by The Beatles and The Who.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Aldridge was born in North London and lived in Los Angeles, California. He is survived by 8 children: fashion photographer Miles Aldridge, model and social activist Saffron Aldridge and Marc from his first marriage to Rita Farthing; two sons, Pim and Toby, from a relationship with Andrea Gayler; and two daughters, models Lily Aldridge and Ruby Aldridge, and a son, James, from his second marriage to Laura Lyons, which also ended in divorce.[1] He has 11 grandchildren. On 17 February 2017, his daughter Lily announced his death via Instagram.[4]


Aldridge's illustration for Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison typifies his early style.

Aldridge first worked as an illustrator at The Sunday Times Magazine. After doing some freelance book covers for Penguin Books, he was hired in March 1965 by Penguin's chief editor Tony Godwin to become the art director of Penguin.[5] Over the next two years as art director, he especially 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.[6]

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was responsible for a great many album covers, and helped create the graphic style of that era. He designed a series of science fiction book covers for Penguin Books. He made a big impression with his illustrations for the book The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics. He also provided illustrations for The Penguin Book of Comics, a history of British and American comic art.[7] His work was characterised by a flowing, cartoony style and soft airbrushing – very much in step with the psychedelic styles of the times. His work includes the 1971 anti-war poster entitled A great place for hamburgers but who'd want to live there![8][7]

In the theatre, in February 1969 he designed the graphics for the controversial Jane Arden play Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven at the London Arts Laboratory, Drury Lane.[7]

He is possibly best known for the picture 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 Harry Willock. William Plomer wrote the accompanying verses. This was based on William Roscoe's poem of the same name, but was inspired when Aldridge read that John Tenniel had told Lewis Carroll it was impossible to draw a wasp in a wig.

Aldridge created the artwork for Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John in 1975.[7] In 1977 he created an advertisement illustration for the Dutch beer brand Heineken.[7] He was the creator of the Hard Rock Café logo.[9]

Honours and awards[edit]

A retrospective Alan Aldridge – the Man with the Kaleidoscope Eyes featured at the Design Museum in London from 10 October 2008 to 25 January 2009, and was reviewed as "The trip of a lifetime".[10]

Over the years Aldridge won many awards for his work, among them Whitbread Children's Book Award (1973).[11]

Selected works[edit]

  • The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes (Thames & Hudson, 2008), 240 pp, ISBN 978-0-500-09342-9; also published as The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Art of Alan Aldridge (Abrams Books, 2009), 240 pp, ISBN 978-0-8109-0596-2


  1. ^ a b Sweeting, Adam (22 February 2017). "Alan Aldridge obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 June 2022. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Alan Aldridge, Album Cover Designer for The Who and Elton John, Dies". Best Classic Bands. 18 February 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Alan Aldridge".
  4. ^ Lily Aldridge [@lilyaldridge] (17 February 2017). "I love you Daddy 💔🙏🏼❤ I feel so blessed to have been given a father who I love admire & respect as much as you. I'm so proud to be your daughter. Thank you for the years of magic ✨❤🙏🏼 #MyIdol 🕷👁💧". Archived from the original on 25 December 2021 – via Instagram.
  5. ^ "The Art of Penguin Science Fiction".
  6. ^ "Palazzo : Artist & Author Profiles : Latest Profiles : Alan Aldridge". The New York Times. 17 September 2006. Archived from the original on 18 March 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d e Knudde, Kjell. "Alan Aldridge". Lambiek Comiclopedia.
  8. ^ Aulich, James (2007). War Posters: Weapons of Mass Communication. New York: Thames & Hudson. p. 237. ISBN 9780500251416.
  9. ^ "Home". 12 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Alan Aldridge". Design Museum. 2006. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
  11. ^ Costa Book Awards. Archived 7 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]