Published on December 17th, 2012 | by Alan Cross0
An Interview with an Old Time Record Bootlegger
His name is William Stout and while he never manufactured bootleg recordings himself, he did become rather famous for the artwork he created for a series of releases of, uh, dubious provenance, for a label called Trademark of Quality.
Q: As much as you can reveal, how did you come to do all the bootleg covers for Trademark of Quality?
William Stout: I purchased my first bootleg record album, “Bob Dylan’s Great White Wonder,” at my favorite record shop, Lewin’s Record Paradise, a large legitimate record store on Hollywood Boulevard. I bought my second bootleg, the Rolling Stones’ “LIVEr Than You’ll Ever Be” at either the same shop or at the Licorice Pizza down the street. Both had similar covers: completely white with the title of the LP rubberstamped on the blank cover in blue.
“(For those of you not in the know, bootleg records were fan-produced LPs whose content came from live audience concert tapes — occasionally soundboard tapes, unreleased studio recordings or other rarities, like radio and TV performances, obscure single B-sides, etc. Bootlegs should be differentiated from pirate records — counterfeit productions of legitimate studio releases. A lot of pirating was financed by the Mafia and then distributed and sold through large department store chains. I’ve used the past tense in this paragraph because bootleg LPs are no longer produced; these days everything is on CD.)
“My own involvement with bootleg LPs began in 1973. I was visiting Record Paradise about a week or so after attending a great Led Zeppelin concert and was looking forward to purchasing the bootleg LP of it that was sure to be produced. There it was in the “L” bin! I grabbed it and held it up. “Oh man,” I said out loud, “this cover sucks. I wish someone would get me to do these covers.”
“A guy tapped on my shoulder. ‘You wanna do bootleg record covers?’ ‘Sure!’ ‘Selma and Las Palmas, this Friday night, eight o’clock. Be there.’ He paused. ‘Alone.’ I agreed.