By Jack Sharkey, January 19, 2017

If you’ve been anywhere near a vinyl album in the past forty years you’ve seen the fabulous work of Pacific Eye and Ear, a design studio out of LA that operated from 1972 until the mid-80s and that is responsible for some of the most iconic images in rock and roll history.

 

In a fifteen year period, they created 194 album covers for the following artists among many others: Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Modern Jazz Quartet, Black Oak Arkansas, Grand Funk, The Doors, Earth Wind & Fire, Foghat, The Bee Gees, Lou Reed. And this doesn’t include the corporate work Pacific Eye & Ear did, so yeah, pretty much, you’re familiar with their work even if you’ve never heard of them.

 

The Rock & Soul Museum, on Beale Street in Memphis is hosting a display of Pacific Eye & Ear’s work as part of their permanent exhibit that tells the story of the role Memphis played in the art of rock and soul music in America. The permanent exhibit is an amazing trip from the Memphis that was King Cotton until the Stax days in the 60s and 70s and beyond. It truly is the story of the birth of rock and roll and soul music and if you have a chance, you should make it a point to take a tour.

 

In December I got a chance to spend the afternoon with Ernie Cefalu, the founder of Pacific Eye & Ear, as a guest of John Doyle, curator of Rock & Soul. To hear the stories of how some of the most recognizable artwork of the past 50 years was created was an amazing treat, and being in the midst of the original artwork of so many records that were a part of my own history was fabulous – and highly recommended for any fan of music. I wasn’t the only lucky guest that day, as a couple on their honeymoon from Texas were touring the museum while we were there and Cefalu spent time taking pictures and talking rock & roll with them. It was worth the visit just to hang to the side and listen. Cefalu is obviously a man driven by passion and his passion for his current work – and the work he has created or been a part of over his career – is contagious and a joy to be around.

 

The exhibit will be in Memphis for the rest of 2017, so if your travel plans include western Tennessee, make it a point to revel in some rock and roll history.

 

John Doyle & Ernie Cefalu, Memphis Rock & Soul

Ernie Cefalu from Pacific Eye & Ear shows Rock & Soul Museum curator John Doyle a little appreciation.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis - Memphis Rock & Soul

 Clothes from the album cover shoot for the 1958 release Jerry Lee Lewis

 

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

 Original drawing from the 1974 Black Sabbath album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

 

Rolling Stones lips tongue logo

The original doodle that became the iconic Rolling Stones logo. 

 

Alice Cooper Welcome To My Nightmare

 Original artwork, including leather border and inlay, for Alice Cooper's 1975 release Welcome To My Nightmare

  

Ernie Cefalu Art & Speed

 Cefalu gives the background on a couple rock & roll portraits at the Art & Speed Museum in Memphis, where a secondary exhibit is currently being shown.

We'd like to thank John Doyle and his staff at Rock & Soul, Larry Talbort from Radian Partners, and Ernie Cefalu for their time and effort with this story.