Thursday, 20 November 2008

Ray Lowry

Ray Lowry

Ray Lowry began working as a cartoonist and illustrator in the late '60s, contributing work to the likes of the International Times and Oz magazine. His work was eventually published in more mainstream publications - Punch and Private Eye, among others.

In the early '70s he began a long association with the music press, most notably the NME, where he worked as a cartoonist (single frames and strips) and illustrator for much of the '70s and '80's. The occasional record review led to a two year link with the early 'Face' magazine as a columnist alongside Julie Burchill.

n 1979 Ray was invited to Accompany 'The Clash' on their groundbreaking tour of the USA, illustrating the band's progress while sending visual reports back to the NME. At the end of the trip he designed the 'London Calling' album sleeve.

Bored with the USA, he was leafing through a pile of unregarded and unreviewed albums in the NME office when he unearthed the seminal Cyndi Lauper album 'Blue Angel'. This led to her first review and interview in the British music press.

He was later invited to assist grunge rock band 'Gaye Bikers on Acid' to put together a half hour video film to promote their album a lot of 'coke' later and Ray returned home, wired. He has never seen the film or the 'Gaye Bikers' since.

Divorce follows marriage as night follows day and, struggling with crippling debts and male-pattern baldness, Ray continues to turn out cartoons, illustrations and bizarre 'letters'. He has worked for - Punch, Private Eye, The Spectator, New Society, Time Out, NME, Melody Maker, The Observer, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, Arena, The Face, Loaded, Mojo, Tatler . . . . . . . . . .

Ray was expressly forbidden to use the 'Hell's Angels' logo in his cartoons on pain of rapid and serious retribution if he continued to do so.

He has had four collections of his drawings published - 'Only Rock and Roll', 'This Space to Let', 'Ray Lowry - Ink' and in 2006, 'The Clash, Up-Close and Personal', a DVD and book set which tells of the 1979 American tour, on which Ray was dubbed the 'War Artist' by Joe Strummer.

Ray also illustrated 'A Riot of Our Own', an account of the rise and rise of The Clash by Road Manager, Johnny Green.

Work in progress is the illustrated story of the fateful tour of Britain in 1960 of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, 'the alcoholic and the thug' as Ray wryly refers to them.

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