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On the 17th of December, Bonhams‘ auction of entertainment memorabilia will be held in London. It includes quite a few rare Elton John recordings, such as I’ve Been Loving You; Tartan Coloured Lady; Baby I Miss You; and Smokestack Children.

Also featured is the original working drawing for the front cover of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. The man behind the artwork, Ian Beck, has offered more details. . . .
EJW: Could you discuss the creative process?
IB:  I made several visuals at first for the designers to see so that they could choose the image they liked best. They chose the idea of Elton stepping through the wall poster. Once that was decided on I then made a further drawing which would act as the template for the final image. My friend and fellow illustrator Leslie McKinley Howell posed for the image wearing a baseball jacket which seemed about right.
EJW: Have you been asked to produce other LP jackets?
IB:  I worked on several other album covers at the time including Focus, Live at The Rainbow; Wait Until They Change The Backdrop by Jonathan Kelly; and All The Young Dudes by Mott The Hoople, although the latter was printed and proofed and then rejected by the band as being too effeminate.
EJW: What are you and your model friend doing nowadays?
IB: Leslie, who was a fashion illustrator, has become a studio potter who makes ceramics. I moved into writing and illustrating children’s books and novels. I have also illustrated books by Philip Pullman and have added all kinds of images and faked documents to His Dark Materials trilogy of books. And recently, the Royal Mail issued a set of Elton stamps including ‘GYBR.’
EJW: Did you have any idea that Goodbye Yellow Brick Road would become such a success? And how do you feel about this being the name of the singer’s final tour?
IB: I was impressed when I heard the tapes, even though I’m more of a classical music person. I did think it would be a big album but of course it has been much more than that–iconic of that period in the seventies.
Some time back, I was contacted by Elton’s people who asked if I’d make a new ‘GYBR’ image for the big farewell tour that was coming up. I was delighted to be involved and the image is now on the cover of the official tour programme.

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