[I first posted this piece back in 2009 -- when this blog and I were young -- but I'm reposting it now for reasons that will be obvious when you get down to the last graf. Enjoy! -- S.S.]
Sometime in late '73 or early '74, a large and mysterious package addressed to me arrived at the offices of the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, with a label that said "Trademark of Quality Records," and a postmark from San Francisco, but no return address. When I opened it, I found, to my surprise, a stack of 30 or 40 LP albums. All bootlegs. Each more amazing than the next, including these two --
-- which featured cover illos by a (then unknown to me) comic book artist named William Stout.
And when I say amazing, I'm not kidding; there was Dylan stuff up the wazoo, including the Albert Hall concert, another Yardbirds package (on colored vinyl!) featuring liner notes where the bootleggers interviewed singer Keith Relf about each track in detail, Pete Townshend's home demos, tons of Stones, including the '72 Garden show in glorious off-the-board stereo and a seven-inch EP of live at the BBC r&b covers --
...plus The Beatles fan club Christmas records, and blah blah blah.
In other words, just ridiculously great and in some cases -- a '66 acoustic Dylan set from Australia in perfect sound -- life changing stuff.
And a note: "Dear Steve -- we've been reading you and we think you might like some of this. Enjoy!"
I never found out who had sent me the package, but over the years I followed Stout's career with interest, and was perhaps inordinately pleased when he moved over into movie work; I remember in particular how tickled I was when I saw he'd done production art on the Invaders From Mars remake and the Masters of the Universe flick. (He has slightly tonier stuff to his credit, BTW; more recently he worked on Pan's Labyrinth, and cooler than that it does not get).
Anyway, the other day, while researching an obscure David Carradine movie -- The Warrior and the Sorceress -- I discovered that Stout had a writing credit on it, so with the intention of picking his brain about it and some other stuff (figuring this was as good an excuse as any to finally get in touch with him) I gave him a holler.
Turns out he's a thoroughly charming guy with a lot of (as you might imagine) interesting stories. But just before I hung up I told him about the package that had arrived at SR all those years ago, and how much I've always wanted to thank the people that sent it, whoever they were.
He laughed, and then finally said "I'll tell them."
I think there was an implied wink, but I'll probably never know.
Meanwhile, when you get a minute, go over to Bill's OFFICIAL WEB SITE, which has lots of other cool art and reminiscences, and definitely behooves beholding. You'll thank me.
UPDATE: So Tuesday, after concluding my appearance on friend of PowerPop Capt. Al's intertube radio show, the good Captain presented me with this piece of original William Stout art work.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. Needless to say, I'm having it framed toot sweet, and it will be occupying a prized place on the wall of the home of a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance as soon as possible.
In the meantime -- have a great weekend, everybody!!!