Monday, 24 November 2008

Guy Peellaert (1934 - 2008)

Guy Peellaert has died in Paris, aged 74.

Who hell he, you may ask? Well, if you own a copy of Bowie's "Diamond Dogs", then you've seen his work. He first came to my attention as a schoolboy, when I bought a copy of his book "Rock Dreams" in the sale at a local bookstore. It featured text by Nik Cohn alongside Belgian-born Peellaert's astoundingly vivid paintings and illustrations, images which were amongst the first to explore and examine the burgeoning mythology of rock'n'roll using a medium other than the written word.

Being barely in my teens when "Rock Dreams" came out, and having no concept that the book might be the kind of thing worth looking after and keeping in one piece, I relentlessly cannibalised my copy, decorating my bedroom walls with Peellaert's representations of the Stones, Hendrix, the Beatles and so on. The book was such a critical and commercial success that Peellaert was later commissioned to do the cover art for one of David Bowie's greatest albums,"Diamond Dogs". Controversially, Peellaert represented Bowie as half-man, half-dog, canine genitalia and all. These latter details had to be airbrushed out for the cover of the final release. Original unretouched copies are as rare as rocking-horse shit, and will doubtless become a little more sought-after now.

Peellaert's work was more far-ranging than just "Rock Dreams" and the "Diamond Dogs" sleeve, covering comics and movie posters as well as paintings and the kind of illustrations which brought him fame, but it's for these that I knew him best. RIP.

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