5:02 PM GMT 17/05/2013
Ray Lowry, the artist who hatched the concept for The Clash’s iconic London Calling sleeve, has died at the age of 64 following an unspecified haemorrhage. The maverick cartoonist had been ill for a number of years and was found at his home in Waterfoot, Lancashire, on the morning of Tuesday, October 14.
An eccentric figure deeply in love with rock’n’roll, Lowry was born in Urmston, Greater Manchester, and discovered music while at grammar school. Initially moving into the world of advertising, he relocated to London where he began to draw cartoons and paint. His work first appeared in International Times and Oz, before he found himself in the employ of more mainstream publications including Punch, Private Eye and Mayfair.
Lowry’s defining moment came in the ‘70s when he created a strip entitled Only Rock’n’Roll for the NME. Catching the Sex Pistols at the Electric Circus in Manchester, Ray found his work revitalised by punk and, in 1979, he famously accompanied The Clash on tour in the US, sketching them using his now distinctive energised style. It was during that tour that Lowry came up with the concept for the London Calling sleeve.
By the 1980s, Lowry had moved on yet again, working for style magazine The Face, but never losing sight of his love for “holy rock’n’roll thunder”. While in later years he appeared to slowly withdraw from life in London, Lowry never stopped painting and drawing.
In 2005 he contacted MOJO to profess his affection for The Kills, suggesting that he follow the duo of Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart on the road and report back with sketches and a review. Sadly, the final results were never submitted for publication.
More recently, Lowry had elected to host his first retrospective show. “The time felt right,” he said last month. The exhibition itself opened on September 12 at the See Gallery And Photographic Studio in Crawshawbooth and also featured new work by Ray, including a series of paintings inspired by Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent’s ill-fated 1960 tour of Britain.
Despite Lowry’s death, the exhibition is expected to run until its original proposed closing date of November 7 as a tribute to Ray himself. The exhibition can be viewed at See Gallery and Photographic Studio, Oddfellows Hall, 1 Binns Street, Crawshawbooth, Lancashire, BB4 8AA.. In the meantime, click HERE for a virtual look at some his work.
MOJO would like to pass on our condolences to the Lowry family. This weekend’s Ultimate Clash show on MOJO Radio (Friday October 17, 9.00pm, repeated Sunday October 19, 9.00pm) will be dedicated to Ray’s memory.
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 3:23 PM GMT 14/10/2008