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October 9, 2020

Funny Portraits of John Lennon From the “Walls and Bridges” Photo Session in 1975

A set of eight black and white photographs from the John Lennon “Walls and Bridges” photo session in New York City with Bob Gruen. The images were taken by Gruen in 1975 in support of Lennon’s album of the same name.

Originally, Lennon planned to use some of his childhood drawings for the cover of an oldies album he had begun in 1973, but when he put that on hold to record Walls and Bridges, he decided to use the artwork already in production. The album’s elaborate outer jacket featured some of his drawings, and a series of photos of his face with different expressions. The front cover contained two flaps which, when folded, created several interchangeable “Lennon faces”, some of them silly.

“In late August, just after I had returned from a twelve-day tour of Japan with Yoko, John called and said that he needed pictures taken for his Walls and Bridges album. The art director wanted to have a series of pictures, all of his face the same size with different expressions. Then they would cut the pieces into flaps, so you would have one series of his eyes, one of his mouth, another of his nose, and you could rearrange them in different faces and expressions, like a toy ...” – Bob Gruen.

The album’s art direction was credited to Capitol’s in-house designer, Roy Kohara. The booklet inside the LP included a front photo of Lennon with no glasses and a back photo of Lennon with five pairs of glasses piled on top of one another, both by the American photographer Bob Gruen. The inner sleeve contained another portrait as well as a horizontal melange of the other photos.

Walls and Bridges is the fifth studio album by John Lennon. It was issued by Apple Records on September 26, 1974 in the United States and on October 4 in the United Kingdom. Written, recorded and released during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono, the album captured Lennon in the midst of his “Lost Weekend”. Walls and Bridges was an American Billboard number-one album and includes two hit singles, “Whatever Gets You thru the Night” and “#9 Dream”.


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