Funkadelic Album Cover Artist Pedro Bell Dies
Pedro Bell, the artist behind many Funkadelic and George Clinton album covers, died on Aug. 27, Clinton confirmed.
The pair had worked together since the early ‘70s, with Bell credited as having “single-handedly defined the P-Funk collective as sci-fi superheroes fighting the ills of the heart, society, and the cosmos.”
Writing in his 2014 memoir, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? Clinton wrote: “He doodled these intricate, wild worlds, filled with crazy hypersexual characters and strange slogans.” Of his first album sleeve, for 1973’s Cosmic Slop, Clinton said: “When he sent us his interpretation, I was blown away. It included pimps and hos, some of which were drawn as aliens with little worms coming out of them. It was nightmarish and funny and beautiful, a perfect fit for the music we were making.”
He went on to create illustrations for 1974’s Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, 1975’s Let’s Take It to the Stage, and 1978’s One Nation Under a Groove, along with Clinton solo albums including 1982’s Computer Games.
Writing as “Sir Lleb,” Bell also wrote many of P-Funk’s sleeve notes, creating concepts including Thumpasaurus and Funkapus that became part of the band’s mythology. “I found the record company and sent a letter and said I wanted to do stuff,” he told the Sun-Times in 2009, saying he subscribed to Clinton’s concept of “free your mind and the rest will follow,” and “when you’re down you’re still up.” He added: “We believed where the funk was going to take us. We’ve got philosophy to back up the music.”
The Sun-Times also reported that, aged 59 at the time, Bell was almost completely blind, receiving dialysis treatment and living in financial penury. He said he’d never been paid for his work with Clinton, with whom he’d fallen out 15 years previously. “We really believed that if we [did] this, we’d be able to support ourselves,” he said. The report resulted in an aid campaign from other artists.
“Rest easy, Sir Lleb!” read a post on Clinton’s Facebook page. Guitarist Bootsy Collins wrote separately: “We lost the Master Mind behind the Graphic's & Artwork of Funkadelic… Thxs for yr service our brother.”
Pedro Bell Album Covers