I spoke with Darill Connelly a few days ago. He is, as anyone reading this knows, one of my favorite graphic artists. He is also remarkably unsung – there are very few references to him on the web. I hope that changes.
Connelly designed covers and did illustrations for Columbia records from 1949 until roughly 1951. He knew everybody in the business. He then went on to a career in marketing in non-music related industries. He says he did a few covers for Mercury after he left Columbia.
Connelly cleared up a mystery for me, and changed the face of Steinweiss collecting. He told me that Alex Steinweiss designed the basic covers – the squares and rectangles of color, that Connelly did illustrations for. Mr. Connelly confirmed my hypothesis that Columbia came up with these covers so that they could rush a lot of material out for the lp format relatively quickly. And cheaply I expect.
Here are six covers with the Steinweiss squares designs and Connelly illustrations. Two pairs are the same cover in different colors. The red/brown pair is separated by a number of years. The red one is a Columbia blue label, the brown one has a grey six eyes label (a Steinweiss design, I believe). The Eric Coates cover is a great illustration.
Many thanks to Darill Connelly for all the pleasure he has brought to art-lovers, and for taking the time to answer my questions. More later.