In the difficult and tedious days of the pandemic during 2020, I decided to try to make a collage of the 18 albums of mine that have been graced by the beautiful artwork of Jean-Michel Folon. When I think back to "TIGHTROPE"(1977), my first album as a leader for Columbia Records, and that I was to be paired with art director, and great graphic designer, Paula Scher, I could not have fully realized what a great stroke of good fortune that was going to be. After the music had been recorded and we had our first meeting, she kindly asked me, "What kind of a cover would you like?" I responded, "Can I ask for anything?" To which she replied, "Well, you can ask." And when I told her what the album title was, and that I would give anything to have a cover by Jean-Michel Folon, Paula then said: "Oh, that's a wonderful idea, I know his agent, John Locke!!!" And this began a wonderful working relationship with Paula and one of her super-talented designers, Janet Perr. And, it was to bring more joy to my life in other ways as well.
    The first three album covers for Columbia Records were all original paintings done specifically for those LPs. The "EVIDENCE(1980)" cover was from a series of drawings that he did for me - and sent me. They were really just tests for a songbook idea that I had back then. The one you see in the collage was special for me and I decided to use it with Jean-Michel's permission. As my career took a different turn, and there would be many of them, I could never afford to pay for original and new pieces, so I would always visit his agent, John Locke, and choose a transparency of an existing piece that might have been already used for another purpose. But, that didn't matter to me, to have his artwork on my cover was the only issue of concern. As you can now see, this continued right to the present. Now, to continue the story...
    Some months later during that same year, I met Jean-Michel and his beautiful wife and manager/publisher Paola Ghiringhelli for the first time, and we all became friends - a friendship that lasted up until they had both passed away. How very fortunate I have been to have known him and to have been able to call him "my friend." How lucky could one young man have been? I could never have dreamed that I would be sitting here now and looking at a collage of this many album covers by one of the greatest artists of his time.
    When I was first becoming aware of Folon's work, in the poster art stores here in New York City, they would carry pieces of his that were from his Airbrushing period, with lots of vibrant and bright colors. The "LET'S CALL THIS" cover and the first BGO Reissue are the only ones from that period. But, by the time that he did my first album cover, he was in a new phase using Watercolors. Most of my album covers are watercolors. "EVIDENCE" represents the simplest and most basic of techniques, Pen & Ink, which I love. After that, there were many works using Aquatint Etchings. The "MODERN TIMES" cover comes from that period. Later in his life, he did some wonderful sculptures which I love. What can I say? I'm still just a fan at heart.
    Please don't ask me if I have a favorite amongst these covers. That would be impossible to choose. I certainly have albums where the music has had a very special resonance and meaning for me. But Jean-Michel's artwork, each piece is special. I would have to say that the last 3 compilations for BGO Records(UK) were very gratifying to bring to life, again with designer Janet Perr, because we were able to use older images by Jean-Michel that I had never been able to use before, and try to have them be connected to the themes exhibited on those 9 albums. It all comes to you with my most sincere desire that somehow, if you are seeing this page, you have maintained a sense of SAFETY and GOOD HEALTH! Let us hope that the future is kinder to us all.

Steve Khan Album Covers by Jean-Michel Folon


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