The Beat Goes On

Jakko Jakszyk, the lead guitarist of progressive-rock band King Crimson, reflects on his musical origins

My first memories of music were at home in Croxley Green. I was the adopted child of a Polish émigré and his French wife, and music in our house was eclectic – orchestral, like Richard Strauss, or some kind of weird Ukrainian folk music; my mum, being French, liked Édith Piaf and Georges Brassens.

My father was an amateur guitarist in a Ukrainian folk group but had to leave when he lost his left index finger in a workshop accident. When he was conscripted into the German army – his father was German – he was given a year off on account of his finger, just before all of his contemporaries were sent to perish on the Russian front.

Upon his return he was sent to a barracks in France: I have photographs of him from there looking rather camp with his Nazi soldier mates, all wearing those uniforms. He was later captured by the French resistance, but he managed to persuade them he was wasn’t German after all, that he was actually Polish and had been conscripted into the German army against his will. They believed him and sent him to Italy where he fought for the Polish Free Army against the Germans. That’s what I call hedging your bets! He always loved his music though.

When I was in my early twenties I went looking for my biological parents and found my mother, who turned out to be Irish, living in Bearden in Arkansas, United States. As it turned out, she had been the lead singer in one of the top show bands in Ireland. In one way or another, music has always been in my family.

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love playing instruments; until recently, I really was quite a purist when it came to amplifiers. I use the effects pedal seen here – called a Helix, by Line 6 – because King Crimson has three drum kits at the front, unusual to say the least, so can’t use amps with a cab (which help you hear what you are playing), as the first things the sound would hit are three sets of drum microphones. So the Helix is a magical, reliable piece of kit and recreates this effect. It also means I don’t have to have loads of different pedals like wah-wahs, delays or reverbs dotted about.

I hope I’m passing on some of the passion of music to my children. My son Django is due to go to music college this autumn, and my daughter Amber is a fantastic singer and piano player, so it looks like the genes are there. The adventure continues…

As told to Dan Crowe

Photography Jack Orton

This article is taken from issue 23. To buy the issue or subscribe, click here

Behind the Best Record Covers of the 70s

The album artwork that cemented design collective Hipgnosis as the visual arbiters of the progressive rock scene 

When Pink Floyd asked friends and graphic designers Storm Thorgerson and Audrey Powell to create the cover art for their second studio album, A Saucerful of Secrets, they set in motion a design legacy that produced some of the most memorable record covers of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Hipgnosis – a play on the words ‘hip’ and ‘gnostic’ – combined the cool and occult, and was a word first coined by Syd Barret, who shared a flat with Thorgerson and Powell in Cambridge at the time. Barrett scrawled the word onto their front door one day and the name was born.  

In the years that followed, Hipgnosis built a reputation off the back of their characteristically enigmatic album covers. Using photography to blend elements of surrealism, sex and postmodern elbow-nudging, their quirky sense of humour and willingness to break boundaries was both a sign of the times and a revolution in itself. Here, we look at some of the best examples of their work from the 70s.

Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs, 1970 – Photography: S. Thorgerson © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd

Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs

In preparation for this album shoot Syd Barrett painted the floor of his bedroom in orange and purple. When photographer Mick Rock arrived to shoot Syd, he found a naked woman in the kitchen known only as “Iggy the Eskimo”. Fittingly, she features on the back of the sleeve. 

10cc, Deceptive Bends 1977 – Photography: A. Powell/S. Thorgerson/P. Christopherson – Graphics: G. Hardie – Retouching: R. Manning © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd

10cc – Deceptive Bends

In the days before photoshop Hipgnosis were pioneers of the cut-and-paste method, creating surreal collages by sticking conflicting images on top of each other. The artwork for Deceptive Bends features three separate images: the diver and the woman (shot in a studio), the jetty (shot on location by the River Thames), and the sky (taken from a photo library). 

Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (2) 1978 – Photography: A. Powell/P. Christopherson – Graphics: Hipgnosis/C. Elgie © 2017 Peter Gabriel Ltd

Peter Gabriel – Scratch

The unofficial title of Peter Gabriel’s second self-titled album, Scratch was inspired, undeniably, by the artwork of Hipgnosis. The ‘tearing’ effect from Gabriel’s fingertips is actually white paper, torn and adjusted onto the original image .

10cc, How Dare You! 1976 – Cover design: Hipgnosis/G. Hardie – Photography: A. Powell © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd

10cc – How Dare You!

The concept for 10cc’s How Dare You! was entirely based upon the strength of the music. The use of phones refer to the song ‘Don’t Hang Up’, which opens with a woman picking up the phone, while the people on the front and back refer directly to certain characters that pop up throughout the album.

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon 1973 – Graphics: G. Hardie © Pink Floyd Music Ltd

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon

Perhaps the best known of Hipgnosis’ work, the artwork for Pink Floyd’s seminal The Dark Side Of The Moon is a graphic representation of both the band’s light-infused live shows and the heartbeat that begins the album. The spectrum of light reflected from the prism on the cover to the the back, provides a suitably cryptic image to fit the mysterious title of the album.

Vinyl. Album. Cover. Art. is out now, published by Thames & Hudson