If you were a Beatles bootleg collector or just a bootleg collector, especially in the age of vinyl, you knew the name William Stout. He did many covers for the Trade Mark of Quality label. Beatles fans also knew him for the “Beatlesongs” cover for Rhino Records that created such a stir.
But we’d often wondered about what he would say about his work, both on Beatles and other bootlegs. So we contacted him and he agreed to talk about both in this three-part interview we did by email. This is the conclusion of the three-part interview. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Stout for answering our questions. We hoped you enjoyed reading this interview as much as we did doing it.
Q: When Rhino issued the press release about redoing the cover because of the image of Mark David Chapman, you were quoted in that release as saying, he was “the ultimate Beatle fan” and that the people who were angry about the cover were “a humorless lot of fans who do see a bit — or more? — of Chapman in their obsessive little heart of hearts.” Was that accurate — and have your feelings changed in the years since?
William Stout: I still think that’s very accurate; the singer Selena’s murder by her fan club president supports that view. I was recently mobbed on Hollywood Boulevard by autograph hounds and fans (my first and only time). It was exhilarating at first but then it got scary when it looked like the situation was not going to end. My studio mate Dave Stevens (creator of The Rocketeer) had two obsessive female fans stalking him with the intent to end his life. People! Please! Don’t take what we creative folks do some goddamn seriously! None of us are sending you secret messages — we don’t have time for that s—!
Q: What artwork had you done at that time outside of the bootlegs?
William Stout: I was (and still am) a freelancer. I had worked all over the place, doing comics, advertising illustration, T-shirt designs, book and magazine illustration — all kinds of stuff. I put myself through art school painting watercolor portraits at Disneyland in New Orleans Square.
Q: What are you doing now?
William Stout: I’m painting two murals for the San Diego Zoo, drawing an eight page comic book story for Alien Worlds, finishing 100 portraits for a book on the blues, painting an illustration for Terryl Whitlatch, preparing to direct a feature film, compiling a book on all my music-related art and another on my comics work, getting ready for Comic-Con International and bidding on two new murals. Yup; I’m a slacker.
Q: How do you look back at the bootleg artwork now?
William Stout: With great pride and fondness. It was an exciting time both musically and artistically. Since I wasn’t getting paid much but had total freedom, I decided to make all the covers as cool as I could make them. I kept pushing Trademark of Quality to live up to their name both in content and packaging.
Q: Where can people find you on the internet and what projects do you have in the works?
William Stout: My website is: www.williamstout.com. Current projects of possible interest to your readers: In April 2013, Abrams will publish my book “100 Legends of the Blues.” It will contain 100 full color portraits depicting my favorite blues musicians, plus bios and recommended listening. It it’s successful, I have two more volumes planned. “I am close to completing ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Heart – The Music Art of William Stout’ (title tentative), a compilation of all my music-related art (bootleg LP covers, legitimate LP covers, single sleeves, CD covers, band flyers, festival posters, etc.). It’s my most requested book.
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