Commentary and Photos: Adrian Hextall
Facebook: MindHex Media
Paul Raymond Gregory is an English artist born in Derby (UK) in 1949.
Best known for his J. R. R. Tolkien-inspired fantasy paintings and rock album covers, he has also created book covers and is a co-founder of Bloodstock Open Air Heavy Metal Festival.
Starting his art career by producing a series of paintings based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’, he has subsequently moved on to designing Saxon’s album covers, the first being Crusader. As well as a total of 15 Saxon covers to date, he’s also worked on sleeves for Dio, Uriah Heep, Blind Guardian, Molly Hatchet, Freedom Call, The Company of Snakes, Beholder and Battalion. It’s no surprise then that, after he co-founded Amust4music in 2001, the company behind Bloodstock, he’s done all of the artwork for the festival.
A review of the festival is great but the focus on the bands and the live photography detracts from the awesome artwork that Paul has produced. In addition to the festival artwork, he’s also created some new material to celebrate the life of Lemmy Kilmister and Bloodstock Open Air 2016 opened the doors to ‘Lemmy’s Bar’ in recognition of the great man.
As well as the festival poster for 2016, a gallery celebrating Paul’s career to date was also present on the site. A large white tent with all of Paul’s Bloodstock artwork along with some of his celebrated Tolkien inspired work stood alongside the best of his Saxon covers and some strange but awe inspiring outfits, Motorhead themed bass guitars and more.
Since Bloodstock began as a small indoor event at the Assembly Rooms in Derby, it has grown to be the premier metal festival every year in the UK. Download may be bigger, Sonisphere is ‘uncertain’ but Bloodstock stands tall, attracting the biggest names in the genre and throws in a few surprises along the way. The atmosphere is very much ‘family friendly’ and it never ceases to raise a smile to see a ten year old with hands raised high in the shape of horns rocking out to Behemoth, Anthrax or Slayer. Universal appeal, some cos-play as evidenced below and a sense of safety and security all prove that the Gregory family are getting this right;
After all, how many festivals allow us to celebrate death metal and walk around holding hands with our significant other at the same time?
Fond memories of the original Bloodstock indoor festival would see Battle Metal nights on the Friday with bands like Primal Fear, Hammerfall, Iron Savior and more play. As the transition to the Open Air festival took place, many of the bands returned and so the festival grew and grew. Dio along with Heaven and Hell would have headlined if not for Ronnie’s untimely death. As such, the main stage is now the Ronnie James Dio stage. With Lemmy’s bar set, I’m sure to become a permanent fixture it’s not surprising that Twisted Sister’s recent headlining set made mention of the wonderful tributes in place. Dee Snider, whilst celebrating the life of recently departed drummer A J Pero recognised that the band would not be where they were if not for people like Dio and especially Lemmy, the man who was integral in Twisted Sister breaking in the UK. Nods of appreciation all around from the fans and warm applause as well.
Metal really does bring people together and Bloodstock does it better than most. Thanks Paul!