CAT SCRATCH FEVER
There's quite a story behind this picture, as you might guess. During the late 1970s our studio, Steinbicker/Houghton Inc., produced the photography for many record album covers, including a few of hard rock icon Ted Nugent (a.k.a. The Motor City Madman) for the CBS Epic label. After doing the cover for his 1977 hit Cat Scratch Fever we were asked to create a promotional photo depicting him as stark raving mad, an image he carefully nourished.
The first thing we needed was a padded cell, or at least the corner of one. That wasn't too hard to fake, but getting a real straight jacket certainly was. I first tried all of the New York prop houses, but no one had this item. Then I thought: "Of course! A medical supply — that's where a mental institution would get them from!" So I called the nearest supply house and asked. The astonished voice on the other end must have thought I was some pervert looking for a bit of the old S&M fun times, because they answered that yes, they stocked them, but NO they will not sell it to me. After offering to show them a purchase order from CBS describing the photo they wanted taken the supply firm relented, provided I swore to totally destroy the item immediately following the photo session.
At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2, 1977, Ted Nugent came into the studio, was tied up and placed in the set. He was as friendly and cooperative as could be. How could he not be, being bound like that? And the session took a while as we were using an 8x10 view camera because the client wanted a huge reproduction size.
Prior to doing his Cat Scratch Fever cover a few weeks earlier, we had also produced the cover photo for his 1976 album Free For All, another studio job. Most of his other albums used performance shots, a type of photography that we avoided as the photographer has no control over the event, and those jobs didn't pay nearly as well.
Album covers in those days were 12 inches square as the records were 12" vinyl LPs. That allowed plenty of space to display photos effectively. After that, though, cassettes were not only too small, but the shape was all wrong, CDs are just a little bit better. The top photo is not quite sharp because it was scanned from a really tiny reproduction, the only one I could find.
And yes, I did destroy the jacket after the job was done.
Text copyright © 2010 Earl Steinbicker
Interested in photography? Check out my "Assisting Avedon" blog.
SO, just what Little Adventure am I up to now in 2013? Why, just the most challenging one of them all! CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.
CHECK OUT both of these albums by clicking on their names in the boxes below: