If I remember correctly (and I think
I do) John Scarpati gave me my first
break into the record business.
I mean, he doesn’t deserve all the
credit! My hard work and perseverance
had a lot to do with my success over
the years, but John introduced me
to two key clients early on: Frontier
and Enigma.
I first met John in 1983 when I was
fresh out of CalArts and working my
first job post graduation at Music
Connection Magazine. John absolutely
blew me away when we did a photo
shoot with Martha Davis of the Motels
on the “Suicide Bridge,” (Arroyo Seco
Bridge) in Pasadena at sunset. (The
magic hour” he told me. You have about
minutes to get the shot before the
sun goes down. And of course he got
the shot.) He was so great with Martha,
making her feel comfortable. She
seemed a little self conscious, even
though The Motels were at the peak of
their career, thanks to the recently
released hit single, “Only the Lonely.”
Soon after that John introduced me
to Lisa Fancher of Frontier Records.
John was working on an album cover
for a Frontier band called Naked
Prey. He had shot the photos but he
needed a graphic designer to put the
cover together. I am proud to say
years, and I don’t know how many
album covers later, that Lisa is still
a client and also has become one of
my best friends over the years.
And Frontier is still going strong --
they just celebrated their 30th
One of the most fun, and memorable
projects I worked on with John was
the Channel 3 “Last Time I Drank”
cover for Enigma. I have known Ch3
band member Jay Lansford since we
were 17 years old. At the time he was
in Ch3, but Jay has been in many
seminal L.A. bands, as musician and
also producer, including the
legendary Simpletones, of “Beach
Blvd.” fame, The Stepmothers, and
The Unforgiven. (He has currently
reformed the Simpletones in Germany
with a girl singer!) We had an
absolute blast working on the
Channel 3 cover -- and you can tell
from the photos. I remember John had
this amazing studio right above
Frank’s Camera on Figueroa in
Highland Park. It was a really
sketchy neighborhood back then --
before Mr.T’s Bowl even! But he had
this huge loft and I remember going
over there and John would be
watching Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” on
the TV in his bedroom with the sound
cranked way up!
Another memory I have of those days
was driving around Highland Park
with John in his car, on a beautiful
So Cal day, with The The blasting on
the stereo. The song was “This Is The
Day.” To this day, every time I hear
that song I think of John and
driving around Highland Park.
After hearing that song in that
perfect moment, The The became one of
my all time favorite bands, and that
album, “Soul Mining” is still one of
my favorites -- a desert island disc,
for sure! Couldn’t live without it!
I think the last cover I worked on
with John was Redd Kross “Neurotica.”
Actually, I don’t think we even got
to work together on that one!
Unfortunately I was given the job
designing the album package by Big
Time Records after the photo shoot had
already been completed. But that was
a fun project as well, and to be able
to start with those great photos with
the huge Mardi Gras heads was
So, I’d like to thank John for helping
me get my start in the music biz,
for introducing me to one of my best
friends and for turning me on to one
of my favorite bands! And, most
importantly, for taking such amazing
photos, that it makes my job, as the
graphic designer working on the
packaging, even more fun! Even though
it’s been years since I’ve seen John,
those days still feel like they were
just yesterday. . .
Wendy Sherman—Art Slave