Ray Lowry - The Artist & The Clash

Ray Lowry - The Artist & The Clash 8Ball

Born in Cadishead, Salford in 1944, Ray Lowry spent the 1960's trying to forge his way into publications working as a cartoonist. Initially working within the underground press that emerged with the blossoming social and musical movements of the swinging 60's, he found himself getting pieces published in Oz and International Times. 

This new found recognition then led to him becoming a weekly cartoonist with the New Musical Express with the cartoon "Only Rock'n'Roll". This relationship continued into the 1970's where a new musical revolution was taking place. 

His love of the rock and roll music of the 50's meant that he was perfectly placed to appreciate the new musical phenomenon that was the punk movement of the late 70's. It was during the Sex Pistols 1976 Anarchy in the UK tour that Ray saw the band play for the first time at the Electric Circus in Manchester. It was also at this event that Ray met another band, The Clash, for the first time. 

Striking a friendship with the group, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones invited him to travel with the band during their upcoming 1979 American tour and to chronicle the journey as the bands official 'war' artist. 

Ray's obsession was to find an authenticity in rock and roll that he felt had been lacking since the rock music of the 50's. Ray considered Elvis' album Rock and Roll No 1 as the most down and dirty rock and roll album of all time. He found an energy in the music and expression of The Clash that he wanted to capture in its most raw form.

Ray would sketch the band whilst they played, often standing at the back of the gig or at the side of the stage. He would then return to his hotel room and work late into the night to finish the piece, adding colour from memory. His work captured the movement and energy of the live performances along with the mood and emotion of the individual band members. 

It was when Ray saw an image that had been taken by esteemed photographer Pennie Smith that he knew that it captured such energy and that he wanted to use it in it some way. Featuring an image of Paul Simonon smashing a bass guitar on the stage, Ray coupled his sketch of the image with pink and green lettering and in doing so an iconic image was born - becoming the cover to the bands 'London Calling' album. 

Ray spent much of the 80's working for many publications and magazines, though as the musical scene and tastes within publication changed, so too did the demand for Rays work. He remained an avid illustrator and artist with his work being featured heavily at the See Gallery in Lancashire. He, unfortunately, passed away in 2008 at the age of 64.

Rays legacy is the mountain of work that he created during his lifetime, and we delighted to be working with the See Gallery to ensure that his legacy lives on through the art that he created and doing what we can to get his phenomenal illustrations to the world. 


Check out our Ray Lowry Collection here


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