after doing some album art for Dio, Neil Young, and others, he was one of 3 artists chosen to spec work for Afterburner, and the band liked his work the most, so he got the job.
What was the inspiration for the image on the cover? Was the album title set in stone from the beginning of your time on the project?
The manager of the band, Bill Ham, told the record company he wanted their red hot rod, which had been featured on Eliminator, orbiting the globe. He wanted to convey the idea that ZZ Top was now an internationally known rock band. I think the drummer of the band, Frank Beard, came up with the name Afterburner, which is the hottest part of the exhaust flame on a rocket. I talked Bill into letting me do a larger and more elaborate version of the album cover than I had done for my first interpretation, and he agreed. I did an illustration nearly six feet long and three feet high for them.
Because I chose to do Afterburner three feet by six feet, it took two weeks. The manager was so happy with it he flew me to Houston to present it to the band personally. It went over great. I was a hero. They continued to use me for the next five years. I had a lot of contact with the band. Billy Gibbons even came over for dinner once.
He followed up with Recycler