Pedro Bell, the Chicago-based visual artist behind many iconic Funkadelic and George Clinton album covers, died on 27 August 2019. At the time of writing, no official cause of death has been confirmed, but the news was shared by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins.
We lost the Master Mind behind the Graphic’s & Artwork of Funkadelic. Mr. Pedro Bell is an American artist and illustrator best known for his elaborate cover designs and other artwork for numerous Funkadelic and George Clinton solo albums. Thxs for yr service our brother.😲🙏 pic.twitter.com/PsD8TRxlRU
— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) August 28, 2019
In his 2014 memoir, Clinton said the band began receiving letters from Bell around 1972. “He doodled these intricate, wild worlds, filled with crazy hypersexual characters and strange slogans,” Clinton wrote.
Clinton and Bell began speaking over the phone, and from their conversations, Bell created his first cover for Funkadelic: 1973’s Cosmic Slop. “When he sent us his interpretation, I was blown away,” Clinton wrote. “It included pimps and ho’s, some of which were drawn as aliens with little worms coming out of them. It was nightmarish and funny and beautiful, a perfect fit for the music we were making.”
Born in 1950, Pedro Bell went on to create many of Funkadelic’s best known album covers, including 1974’s Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, 1975’s Let’s Take It to the Strange, and 1978’s One Nation Under a Groove. He also worked on a string of George Clinton’s solo covers, including 1982’s Computer Games (which had an art credit for the collective ‘Splankwerks,’ led by Bell) and You Should-Nuf Bit Fish.
Bell’s work has been displayed in museums and galleries internationally. In January 1994, artist and publisher Turtel Onli featured Bell as a guest artist at the Second Annual Black Age of Comics Convention presented by Onli Studios at the historic South Side Community Art Center in the Bronzeville district of Chicago, Illinois.
This feature included Bell’s artwork being on display in the gallery and Bell being the featured artist in a local cable televised interview covering the event. Onli also featured Bell at ‘BLACK AGE X’ Convention in Chicago in 2007.
The artist was also profiled by The Chicago Sun-Times in 2009. The piece depicted the artist attempting to sell original versions of his iconic artwork while living in poverty and struggling with poor health. Bernie Worrell performed at a 2009 benefit concert to help raise money for Bell