Peter Blake, cover artist: `We hope you will enjoy the show'

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The Independent Online
THE GODFATHER of British pop art gave up the only signed copy of his most famous work yesterday to a permanent exhibition that marks his profound contribution to art.

Sir Peter Blake was famously paid just pounds 200 for the cover of the Beatles' 1967 album, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band, still probably the most famous cover of all time. It led to other memorable projects including the design for Paul Weller's Stanley Road album, and pieces for Eric Clapton, Live Aid and Band Aid. A gallery for Sir Peter's works has been created at the Leeds University school of music.

Nearly 40 years after he created the lifesize cut-outs of Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, Marlene Dietrich and others that make up the Sgt Pepper cover, Sir Peter recently said that his paltry fee still rankled. He suggested last year that the Apple record label pay him a commission "to solve the problem of Sgt Pepper" but he was turned down.

Yesterday, the university said the gallery was a fitting tribute to Sir Peter's "place in the popular music art world". The school of music's Simon Warner said the Sgt Pepper design had emerged as Sir Peter's "signature piece, an iconic image that has become the Mona Lisa of rock'n'roll. We are thrilled to be the only place in the world where [it] will be on public display."

Sir Peter said yesterday: "Album covers are like any other vehicle, they are a means of illustrating a story."