Terry Quirk, the artist best known for painting the iconic psychedelic cover for The Zombies’ 1968 album “Odessey and Oracle”, passed away suddenly early this morning at his home in Salisbury, England.
Terence “Terry” Quirk was born June 22, 1941 in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. His association with The Zombies began long before the band’s formation, meeting future singer Colin Blunstone and bassist Chris White in the local grammar school. Quirk and White went on to attend art school together, and they shared a North London flat with keyboardist Rod Argent in 1967 when Argent and White were writing the songs that would become “Odessey and Oracle”. The musicians asked Quirk to design their album cover, and brought the artist into their recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios for inspiration.
As Quirk explained in his biography, “I can remember sitting on some stairs, and it was around half past one in the morning, and they were thinking of titles. I had a pad and a pencil, and they were having a discussion, and out came the word ‘odyssey,’ and I just wrote it in this floral writing. And then out of it came ‘oracle,’ and I wrote that down. When the guys came back from a break, I showed it to them and said, ‘How about this?’ And they said, ‘Perfect, absolutely perfect – color it in, put some figures in. You know what the songs are about.’ And that was it.”
Quirk’s now infamous misspelling of ‘odyssey’ in the album title - an error that went unnoticed until after the record had gone to print - is as much a part of Rock legend as the artwork and songs themselves. Released by a CBS Records subsidiary in 1968, The Zombies “Odessey and Oracle” was initially considered a commercial failure, but a year later spawned the world-wide hit “Time of the Season” and went on to be named in Top All-Time Album lists from the likes of Rolling Stone and Mojo Magazines. Quirk’s friendship and association with The Zombies continued over the next 5 decades, most recently painting the covers for the band’s 2015 album “Still Got That Hunger” (The End Records/BMG) and tabletop book “The Odessey: The Zombies in Words and Images” (BMG Books/Reel Art Press).
A prolific and irrepressible creative force, Quirk wrote and illustrated children’s novels, penned books of poetry, and staged musical productions for local schools. At the time of his death, he was collaborating with Chris White on a musical about The Zombies. Quirk’s artwork has been featured in exhibitions at The O2 Arena and Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and his original cover paintings for “Odessey and Oracle” and “Still Got That Hunger” are currently on display at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.
Terry is survived by his wife Erica, their 5 children and 7 grandchildren.
The Zombies also reacted to the news with their own tributes.
Chris White of The Zombies
‘My oldest friend, artist and and co-writer, Terry Quirk, died this morning. A great loss to myself and all his friends. His creativity and laughter will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with his family.’
Rod Argent of The Zombies
“Chris White phoned me this morning with the incredibly sad news that his lifetime best friend Terry Quirk had died suddenly a few hours earlier.
I’d known Terry since the earliest days of The Zombies; from 1962. He, along with Chris, was my flatmate when I first moved away from home in the sixties. He was then, as he remained all his life, the loveliest man, hugely talented and unremittingly enthusiastic, with a terrific and never- ending capacity for work. Terry was honestly one of that rare breed that cast a pool of sunshine wherever he went. He’ll be so missed.”