Pedro Bell Artwork

Monday December 20th, 2010 – Fox Lake, WI

Unexpected good news today. I’m back in touch with Pedro Bell, the legendary artist of Funkadelic album cover fame I hired to do the artwork for my latest CD. We’d lost touch for a while after an assistant of his ripped him off, but he said he’d be back in touch when he could and make things right. I never doubted he would, and he did. It’s perfect timing.

His new associate is totally professional, and we’re on the same page. I’d never gotten a finished colorized version of the work I paid for, and that’s the first thing he corrected. I’d only had a low resolution black and white version to send him, but he colorized it quickly and got it back to me. I was impressed with how fast he did it and can tell we’ll be fine.

I’d eventually like to get some color prints signed by Pedro and sell them on my site. He has a large following from his work on all the Funkadelic and George Clinton solo album covers, and his style is so unique that it’s recognizable at a glance. I don’t know anything about art, but I know I’m lucky to have a chance to hire Pedro to work with me so I did.

My current CD is mostly black and white, but it does stand out. I only did a first run of 1000, so that’s not the end of the world. I’ll give most of them away as promo pieces and sell the rest, then I’ll use the money to have the colorized version reprinted for the second run. Those will really jump out and catch people’s eye just as the Funkadelic albums did.

Pedro called me on the phone this afternoon and he seemed to be in much better spirits than he was last time we spoke. It’s none of my business, but I heard he’d been feeling ill. I told him I’d love to hire him again to do another project, and he said he was up for it.

I absolutely can’t pass up this opportunity. Even if it means nothing to anybody else but me, I’m going to find a way to make it work. I’ve got a supply of cash at the moment so it won’t kill me, and it will be tax deductible as part of the expense of a product I can resell.

The last project he did was based on the Funkadelic album called “Hardcore Jollies” It’s visually striking, and I saw it on a list of the top 50 rock album covers of all time. I hadn’t known it was on that list, I just liked it and thought “Hard Luck Jollies” would fit together perfectly with my Mr. Lucky persona even if someone had no idea who Funkadelic was.

Pedro and I agreed that this next one will be based on the George Clinton solo album of 1986 called “R&B Skeletons In The Closet”. I like the design and it turns out it was voted top album cover of the year when it came out. I have no idea who voted it that, but Pedro said it was one of his most popular works. I guess I have better taste in art than I thought.

I chose it because I thought it stood out, and it does. We’ll call it “Comedy Skeletons In The Closet” and that will allow me to put anything I want on it. I’ve got some old out take recordings of shows from my first CD and other stuff that’s never seen the light of day. It won’t be a problem to cut and paste and come up with enough material to fill a CD. I may also put on some bonus features, like Sixty Second Soapbox bits from my time in radio.

It doesn’t really matter what‘s on it. I’ll find something to fill it up. What matters is I’ll have another product to sell, and it will come in a quality package. It’ll have eye appeal to strangers, and that’s important as far as marketing goes. It may help sell a few units if I’m able to get it in stores, or help people decide to check it out if I can get in more libraries.

My friend Rick Piccolo said he’s been watching the CD he gave to his local library get checked out and said it’s apparently been in demand. That’s a great way to acquire a core group of fans, and eventually the goal is to get them to come see me live. I’m not upset if they don’t pay for the CD up front. It’s a sampler to turn them on to my style of comedy.

This is all marketing, and I should have been doing it years ago. Maybe I wasn’t able to pull it off then, but I totally am ready for it now. I have the ability and experience, and I’ll develop my own fans thank you. Depending on some low rent booker or worse yet his kid to make my living is total insanity. Nobody can promote me better than me, and it’s time.

Frank Zappa cranked out tons of product, and it came from necessity. He had to make a living, and that’s where I am now. Do I have enough new material for a CD right now? In my old way of thinking, no. Now, I’ve got TONS of material just waiting to be divided up and put on a CD release. I’m finally starting to see things from a marketing perspective.

Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx both had several album releases which helped spread the legend and create a fan base. From what I heard they got ripped off with royalties from all those recordings, but if I’m smart I don’t have to have it happen to me. I can be in charge.

As a kid I remember really enjoying new Funkadelic albums not only for the music, but for Pedro’s intricate artwork on the covers. He’d have eye candy to enjoy on the front and back covers and on the inside foldout too. Granted, albums were a lot bigger than a CD to look at, but CD art is still attractive. I want to create quality products in a quality package.

There’s a whole new world of marketing I need to take advantage of, and it’s not only a matter of releasing audio recordings. They are an important part of the mix though, so I’m going to crank out as many as I can ala Frank Zappa and try to build my legend with fans.

It’s all part of the game, and I’m fine with playing it. I used to think being funny alone was enough, but that’s SO wrong. The rest is marketing and showmanship, and I have an eye for what works in that department because I’m a student of the game. George Clinton did too, and that’s why he knew packaging was so important. He’s a master showman.

I want to be a master showman too. I spent a quarter of a century polishing up the stage part of my show, now it’s time to distribute it to more than just 40 people at a time in an out of the way booze joint in some itty bitty town. That’s not the way to spend one’s days.

I’m thrilled to be back in touch with Pedro, and I never doubted it would happen when it was the right time. Now it’s up to me to make the most of it. I’ve got the money so it’s an investment for the future. Plus, it’s cool because I’m such a big fan. Good enough for me.


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