Album Art – George Osaki

On October 20, 1977, only three days after the release of the Street Survivors album, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chartered Convair CV-300 ran out of fuel near the end of their flight.

This is where I’ll be talking about the Album Art that I like. That is one of the benefits of 12″ vinyl albums, the cool packaging that surrounded the record. Here I’ll research the creations that we all loved as children, teenagers, and adults. I’ll try to find as much information on the artists as I can.

George Osaki was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 21, 1935, and served in the military during the Korean War with Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Rgt. 24th ID on the DMZ in Korea in 1955 and 1956.

George was an accomplished graphic artist, studied at The Chicago Art Institute, and later moved to Southern California where he enjoyed a long and distinguished career at Capitol Records and MCA Records. George Osaki’s design for The Beatles‘ “White Album”[1] is one of the greatest pieces of art direction and graphic design ever…his beautiful album design work will live on forever.

Pop artist Richard Hamilton designed the record sleeve in collaboration with McCartney. The sleeve included a poster comprising a montage of photographs, with the lyrics of the songs on the back, and a set of four photographic portraits taken by John Kelly.

George Osaki designed several of The Beatles’ covers for the American marketplace while employed at Capitol. His sole creative effort can be seen on the front and back cover of “The Beatles’ Second Album” based on his idea of utilizing licensed photos.


In 1972, George worked on the design of Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night” double live album which was number one in Australia for 29 weeks. Also in 1972, he would design Olivia Newton-John’s fifth studio album “Clearly Love”. Next was her “Come on Over” LP in 1976, “Don’t Stop Believin'” in 1976, “Making A Good Thing Better” in 1977, and “Physical” in 1981. This album would be number 1 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the US Billboard and Cash Box charts.


George worked on the art design for several of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s albums like “One More From The Road”, and “Gimme Back My Bullets” in 1976. Next was the 1977 “Street Survivors” album with the famous flames on the cover. It was their fifth studio album and was released on October the 17th.

On October 20, 1977, only three days after the release, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chartered Convair CV-300 ran out of fuel near the end of their flight from Greenville, South Carolina to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Though the pilots attempted an emergency landing on a small airstrip, the plane crashed in a forest five miles northeast of Gillsburg, Mississippi.

Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray, were killed on impact. The other band members (Collins, Rossington, Wilkeson, Powell, Pyle, and Hawkins), tour manager Ron Eckerman, and the road crew survived, but suffered serious injuries.

When Skynyrd encountered their 1977 tragedy, few knew that George was one of the first guys on the scene… taking command, still helping the band in those awful final minutes. Out of respect for the deceased (and at the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve’s widow), MCA Records withdrew the original cover and replaced it with a similar image of the band against a simple black background, which was on the back cover of the original sleeve.


Other George Osaki Design Work
  • Quicksilver – Just For Love 1970
  • Keith Moon – Two Sides Of The Moon 1975
  • Golden Earring – Switch 1975
  • Elton John – Blue Moves 1976
  • Tanya Tucker – Here’s Some Love 1976
  • Grand Funk Railroad – Good Singin’ Good Playin’ 1976
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber And Tim Rice – Evita 1976
  • Tanya Tucker – Ridin’ Rainbows 1977
  • New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Marin County Line 1977
  • Peaches & Herb – Peaches & Herb 1977
  • New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Who Are Those Guys? 1977
  • War – Galaxy 1977
  • Tanya Tucker – TNT 1978
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – Skynyrd’s First And… Last 1978
  • Jerry Clower – Jerry Clower’s Greatest Hits 1979
  • Tanya Tucker – Tear Me Apart 1979
  • War – The Music Band 2 1979
  • Merle Haggard – Serving 190 Proof 1979
  • Tom Jones – Rescue Me 1979
  • Frankie Valli – The Very Best Of Frankie Valli 1979
  • Rufus & Chaka – Masterjam 1979
  • War – The Music Band 1979
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd Band – Gold & Platinum 1979
  • Merle Haggard – Back To The Barrooms 1980
  • Bill Monroe – Bean Blossom ’79 1980
  • Patsy Cline – Always 1980
  • Brenda Lee – Take Me Back 1980
  • Brenda Lee – Even Better 1980
  • The Oak Ridge Boys – Together 1980
  • Faron Young – Free And Easy 1980
  • Poco – Under The Gun 1980
  • Blood Sweat & Tears – Nuclear Blues 1980
  • Bernadette Peters – Bernadette Peters 1980
  • Orleans – Orleans 1980
  • Elton John – 21 At 33 1980
  • Merle Haggard – The Way I Am 1980
  • The Oak Ridge Boys – Greatest Hits 1980
  • Tanya Tucker – Dreamlovers 1980
  • Spyro Gyra – Carnaval 1980
  • Funkadelic – Connections & Disconnections 1981
  • Poco – Blue And Gray 1981
  • Bernadette Peters – Now Playing 1981
  • Keith Emerson – Nighthawks (Original Soundtrack) 1981
  • Jimmy Buffett – Somewhere Over China 1981
  • Wishbone Ash – Hot Ash Live 1981
  • Rossington Collins Band – This Is The Way 1981
  • Jimmy Buffett – Coconut Telegraph 1980
  • Olivia Newton-John – Olivia’s Greatest Hits 1982
  • Oak Ridge Boys – Bobbie Sue 1982
  • Olivia Newton-John – Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 1982
  • Loretta Lynn – Making Love From Memory 1982
  • Rufus With Chaka Khan – The Very Best Of 1982
  • Michael Jackson / John Williams – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 1982
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – Best Of The Rest 1982
  • Mel Tillis – After All This Time 1983
  • Olivia – Twist Of Fate / Take A Chance 1983
  • Loretta Lynn – Lyin’, Cheatin’, Woman Chasin’, Honky Tonkin’, Whiskey Drinkin’ You 1983
  • Barbara Mandrell – Spun Gold 1983
  • George Strait – Right Or Wrong 1983
  • Jerry Lee Lewis – I Am What I Am 1984
  • Neil Sedaka – Come See About Me 1984
  • Reba McEntire – Just A Little Love 1984
  • Dan Fogelberg – Exiles 1987
  • Olivia Newton-John / Electric Light Orchestra – Xanadu (From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 1998

He also was the special graphic consultant for the movie “Xanadu” and the title designer for “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. George Osaki was a huge sports fan, and nobody could disturb him when he was watching the Yankees!

He was a dedicated fan of the Giants, the Yankees, and NASCAR. He had an unmatched love for his birthplace, Hawaii, and everything Hawaiian. George Osaki, a loving father, and grandfather passed away peacefully at home on December 13, 2012.


Click on an image to scroll thru full size


Footnotes
  1. There is not much information, that I could find, on George’s involvement with the Beatles. What I have written here came from Steve Hoffman Music Forums and George Osaki’s obituary. [Back]

Sources

David Alexander Photographer
AllMusic
Wikipedia
Lighthouse
Discogs


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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