Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Overton Loyd - Parliament TV commercials


"Overton Loyd is a American caricaturist, comic artist, animator and illustrator, best known through his association with funk legend George Clinton. He created the comic book inside the sleeve of Parliament's album 'Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome' (1977) and illustrated the covers of the band's subsequent three albums. Together with Pedro Bell, Ronald P. Edwards and Diem Jones, he contributed to Clinton's P-funk philosophy and wacky public image. And together with these artists and people like Cal Schenkel (Frank Zappa), Hipgnosis (Pink Floyd) and Lemi Ghariokwu (Fela Kuti) Bell was one of the best known album cover artists who gave one specific musician or band a visual identity. 

"He refers to his style as "funk aesthetic" and/or "bop art." His fine art paintings go by the monicker "urban expressionism". The artist is convinced that art can ignite a breakthrough in communication, allowing people to shift their consciousness, embrace their humanity and access the eternal, which he summarizes in the slogan: "Transform the Norm". 

"Overton Loyd was born in 1954 in Detroit, Michigan. Among his graphic influences are Salvador DalĂ­, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edgar Degas. He started his career making caricatures at state fairs and illustrations for magazines....  Loyd got in touch with George Clinton, the eccentic brain behind the legendary bands Parliament and Funkadelic. Funkadelic was known for their psychedelic rock sound with funky grooves parodying that very same genre. Parliament combined outer space-themes with catchy dance music. Both bands promoted peace, free love and black consciousness, but with a sense of humor. Clinton's shows were full of funny lyrics, wacky wigs and costumes, complete with giant UFO's landing on stage. The looniness never got in the way of breathtaking musicianship, performed, among others, by guitarists Bootsy Collins and Eddie Hazel, which sometimes went on for three hours in a never-ending party. At that point Clinton already had a home illustrator, Pedro Bell, but Loyd was just as welcome. Bell and Loyd are often confused with each other and it's not hard to see why. Both were the most productive illustrators George Clinton ever worked with, helping out designing album covers, concert posters and other associated merchandising. The main difference is that Bell had a more amateuristic style, while Loyd was more professionally skilled. Also, Bell was mostly preoccupied with artwork for Funkadelic, while Loyd was the main illustrator behind Parliament's records.

"One day Loyd hung out with Parliament in a hotel room when somebody handed out clown noses for the next stage show. He sketched Clinton with one of these noses, which gave him the idea of a Cyrano de Bergerac-like character. Clinton suggested dressing this character like a stereotypical black pimp and named him Sir Noze D'Voidoffunk. On the concept album 'Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome' (1977) the evil Sir Noze tries to fight funk music, personified by the heroic characters Dr. Funkenstein and Starchild. But in the end even he can't resist the groove. Loyd turned this story into an 8-page comic book, printed inside the album's sleeve. The sleeve also featured a poster by Loyd depicting Sir Noze.

"Bell designed the covers for Parliament's next three albums too: 'Motor Booty Affair' (1978), 'Gloryhallastoopid (Or Pin the Tale on the Funky)' (1979) and 'Trombipulation' (1980). Apart from the cover of 'Motorbooty Affair' Loyd created cardboard cutout figures and illustrations of the characters who played a role in the lyrics, including 'Mr. Wiggles' and 'Rumofsteelskin'. He also sang backing vocals on the record and designed costumes for the accompanying tour. To top it all off, Loyd also created a TV commercial to promote 'Motorbooty Affair' , which was his first experience with animation. Inside the sleeve of 'GloryHallaStoopid' (1979) was a comic strip inspired by the album's concept, presented in the shape of a flower bud. Each bud featured a comic strip panel, which one could read in clockwise fashion.

"Over the decades Loyd remained involved with Clinton's entourage, designing costumes, stage shows and album covers for his various musical endeavours. By the 1980s Parliament and Funkadelic were disbanded, and Clinton embarked on a solo career. In 1982 he released the hit single 'Atomic Dog'. The computer animation in the music video by Peter Conn was created by Loyd. Although the single was recorded in 1982 it still took until 17 February 1984 until the video aired on MTV, because at the time the network only gave rock and pop music airplay, thereby excluding all other genres. Thanks to Michael Jackson's monster success in 1983 MTV had to abandon this policy, giving musicians like Clinton airplay. The video won Billboard's "Best Use of Computer Graphics" award. 

".... "While the artist is closely associated with George Clinton, he also designed album or single covers for other musical acts, among them 'With Respect' (1990) and 'Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly' (2003) by Mr. Fiddler. He furthermore livened up the covers of 'Love Sign' (1973) by The Counts, 'Zapp' (1980) by Zapp, 'L.A. Connection' (1982) by L.A. Connection, 'Packet Man' (1990) by Digital Underground, 'Lil Trig' (1991) by Hen-Gree & Evil-E, 'Television, The Drug Of The Nation' (1991) by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, 'Funkology' (1994) by Dazz Band, 'Jazzonia' (1998) by Bill Laswell's Jazzonia, 'Journey To Anywhere' (2000) by Ugly Duckling, 'Weapon of Choice' (2005) by Nutmeg Party and 'Fish Feet' (2009) by Ron English....

"Inspired by Keith Haring, Loyd started to paint citizens of the Homeless District in Los Angeles and posted these acryllic paintings all through the neighbourhood. His intention was to transform the dilapidated district into a kind of secret popUp gallery, though clear in sight. After noticing some people took them away, he added messages of empowerment for the collectors to carry with them. Over the years Loyd has also collaborated with Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca, ManOne and Jim Mahfood. Since the early 1990s his artwork has often been exhibited.

"Overton Loyd, Pedro Bell, Ronald P. Ewards and Diem Jones provided George Clinton's music with a cartoonish visuality in a time when music videos were still rare and most advertising had to be done through tours, radio airplay and record sleeves. Their funky album covers were precursors of the cartoony album covers by some hiphop artists in the next decades. Loyd was a huge influence on comic artists and designers Gerone Spruill, Anya Davidson, Tim Fielder, Dawud Anyabwile and U.S. graffiti artist and muralist Stephen Powers, aka ESPO who once said: "Overton Loyd is as important to me as Henri Matisse."