Ophelia’s Dream by the band Shimmer was one of my earliest jobs.
I was just starting to get work as a designer, when my old friend Adam rang me about doing a job for this band he’d just signed.
I was living in London at the time and King Crimson had just brought out their amazing album “In the Court of the Crimson King” which had blown everyone away in 1969, with it’s uniqueness.
Prog rock was very in and a whole universe of bands seemed to grow out of the wood work, at least it seemed that way or maybe it was one of those trips that at the time, always seemed to find it’s way into my digestive system and then into my brain.
I was living in an upstairs studio near the center of London, surrounded by my work space which was covered with creations and sketches of ideas all over the walls.
I wouldn’t say I’m the neatest of artists but within my disorder there is order.
Even though it got bitterly cold in winter, I really enjoyed living and working in that little studio, it was where my career as an album cover designer began.
I was always working on something when I wasn’t trying to solve the universal riddle of my belly button.
The band already had strong ideas about what the album should look like and wanted to use this beautiful picture called “The Lady of Shalott” by the 19th century artist, William Holman Hunt.
I was instantly taken by the picture and understood why the band wanted to have it as their cover. There is something that has always attracted me to the pre-raphaelite period of art and this painting shows why.
The title for the album came from the bands vocalist Sammy Twickham.
He told me how he’d had a dream of a girl called Ophelia who was at the same time, dreaming of Sammy. They talked without talking and moved without moving as she danced about him in the dream, weaving him into the colours of the sky that he seemed to be looking out at from within himself.
It sounded like a really special dream or a brilliant trip but Sammy assured me the heaviest drug he’d ever taken was some of his mum’s asprin for the occasional headache.
I’ll quickly share with you the story of how the band came together.
The four guys in Shimmer were looking for a new singer as their previous one had left to join a spiritual cult in India and Sammy answered their add.
He was five foot six, had a great voice and was full of a zest for life and an energy that emanated from him to the audience whenever I saw them play live. The other guys in the band said that it had only taken one song for them to know they had found their new singer.
Sammy brought new life, fresh ideas and a different outlook to the band which then started to make some really good albums.
At a time when everyone was under the illusion that they were “making it”, Sammy was different, not in a weird sense but in his outlook on life.
He saw it as a one way ticket and the only one you’re probably going to get and that’s why he felt it was so important to make the most out of life.
He wanted to have more to show at the end of it then just some unfinished “really good” ideas.
Shimmer’s career has now spanned more than thirty years, (quite an accomplishment for a prog-rock band that have never strayed from their roots, considering the many phases music has gone through over the past few decades), it is quite a testament to the popularity of their music and the creativity of the band as a whole.
I feel fortunate to have had the privilege of designing their first album cover and knowing them as friends throughout the ensuing years.
If you ever get the opportunity to listen to this album, I hope it imparts at least some of the energy the world has come to know as the psychadelic 60′s.
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