Long Live Rock'Roll Artwork Cover

The inside story by photographer Fin Costello

This is a very strange story, that involves Rush and Rainbow. And it's been attributed to Sean Delaney (long term Kiss-associate), which is again strange, because I had stopped working with him long time ago by that point. I was on a Rush tour, they had a gig up by the lakes, in Port Huron, a small gig. And a lot of the fans had black t-shirts, with the Rush-logo on.

At the time I was also putting together "Long Live Rock & Roll" for Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. It was originally called "Kill The King", a title taken from one of the songs on the album. We shot a photo in California on a hill, with a skeleton in a suit of armor, as if a king had been killed in a old medieval war, with grass growing up through the skeleton, and a sword sticking in it which went around the fold of the cover. The shield of the fallen had the cover of the previous album, "Rainbow Rising", on it. A concept cover, and all that. My sister even found some rattlesnakes in the grass, and we put one around the sword. We thought it was a great idea, it looked really good. And we took it to Polydor, the record company – and they said: "Forget it! No snakes!".

But we were up against time, so the album ended up with a sketch that somebody had done for a publicity-photograph. I had a made a dummy cover with the skeleton, and on the inside I just put a live picture there. I had the idea of making a banner with "Long Live Rock & Roll" on it, then go to a Rainbow-concert and give it to the kids and make them hold it up for me.

Anyway, I went to this concert with Rush and some kids had made a banner, that said "Rush – Welcome To Port Huron". Just before the band came on, I walked down to the front of the stage, asked the kids to stick it up in the air, and they did. Snap, that's it. So that's what I put on the inside of the dummy cover, unretouched, complete with the Rush-shirts, the banner and everything. Rainbow's manager gave the dummy cover to Polydor.

Next thing I know, I get a call from Geddy Lee (vocalist and bass player of Rush). He was furious, shouting: "What are you doing?!" Polydor had airbrushed everything, removed the logos from the t-shirts and the text from the banner. That's the real story. And I've got the film to prove it!

NRK Hordaland, September 11, 2008

This story was already told before by Fin Costello in Classic Rock Magazine November 2002 after someone asked the question in the previous September issue.

Fin told exact the same story but ended then with: The next thing I knew was whe I showed up at a Rush show, only to get an earful from the band about the use of their shot on the Rainbow cover. When I finally saw it, I was well choked! But of course I couldn't do a thing about it by then. It took me ages to regain Rush's trust.