Rock Dreams

Elliott Murphy - Rock Dreams

March 2022

Rock Dreams was (and is) an amazing illustrated coffee-table book that was published in 1970 and 1973 featuring unforgettable iconic and mythmaking portraits of musicians, bands and singers (mostly rock stars) including Elvis, Dylan, The Rolling Stones and almost anyone else you can think of from Chubby Checker to Joe Cocker – from Tina Turner to Diana Ross – from The Beach Boys to The Kinks and on and on. This book also included portraits of some pre-rock super stars such as Johnny Ray and Frank Sinatra as well as blues legends like B.B. King and Big Joe Turner. When I first opened that book I had the impression that every exaggerated image I had indelibly engraved into my brain of those who lived on the rock ‘n roll mount Olympus had somehow been transmitted onto those glossy pages. I’m sure many others of my generation had the same uncanny feeling. 

Rock Dreams is still a “must” for anyone who takes this music to heart. To this day, I have a copy in my bookshelf (or at least it was there before we began renovating my apartment last summer and my wife packed all my precious stuff away into boxes) and I can’t resist pulling it out and perusing through it each time I pass. For me, there are only a few rock ‘n roll Rosetta Stones (which includes Greil Marcus’ book Mystery Train) that set me on the path I am still on today, to help me understand where that road came from before. The colorful drawings in Rock Dreams were executed by the late great Belgium artist Guy Peellaert who sadly passed away in Paris where he had lived for many years in 2008. My friend, the journalist Paul Alessandrini who booked me to play at Paris’ legendary concert hall Le Palace in 1979 (my first show ever in the City of Light) always promised to introduce me to Guy in the hopes that we would be able to convince him to create a drawing for one of my album covers. Alas! Willie Deville was quicker than me and Guy Peelart did the cover for his album Horse of a Different Color in 1999. Guy also did a memorable cover for French superstar (and friend) Etienne Daho in 1988. But I was too late …

Why do I bring this up? Because during my sleeping hours I often have dreams about many of the rock stars in Rock Dreams and I’ve now started to put them up on Facebook each morning; wrirting them down right after I awake in hopes of remembering every detail before these dreams slip from my memory like sand through my fingers. So far I’m up to #14 which featured Garland Jeffreys. Check out this one with Tom Petty from a few nights ago:

Rock Dreams #5: Last night I dreamed my house burned down or it was getting renovated and I was living in Venice (not sure if it was Italy or California) and I asked Tom Petty if I could stay with him. Tom was very cool and said “sure“ and showed me a small room  on the top floor of his very thin townhouse and said I could stay there although it was kind of a mess. The room was painted red and black. Then we were both standing on the beach and looking out to the ocean and Tom Petty‘s tour bus got hit by lightning and we looked at each other in amazement.

I think I probably have dreamed about almost every musician(s) I admire and that list not only includes Tom Petty but of course also Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles and Bob Dylan. I’ve had so many dreams about performing with the Stones where I forget my guitar (or clothes!) and I even had a dream about meeting Frank Sinatra who was tough but encouraging. I hope I’ll have more but I wonder … do any of them dream about me?