Zombies Artist Terry Quirk Dies at 79
Terry Quirk, whose artwork was found on the cover of the Zombies classic Odessey and Oracle, died on June 1 at the age of 79.
The band shared the news on Facebook. "It is with deep sadness that the Zombies family mourns the loss of our beloved Terry Quirk," they wrote. "Terry passed away suddenly ... at his home in Salisbury, England."
They noted that Quirk's "visionary cover art is eternally connected to our 1968 album Odessey and Oracle. Almost 50 years later, he graced us again with the covers for our album Still Got That Hunger and book The Odessey. Most importantly, Terry’s irrepressible and mischievous spirit left a smile on the face of every person he met, and that spirit will live on forever in his artwork. Our hearts go out to his wife Erica and their family. Rest in peace dear friend."
Quirk was born on June 22, 1941 in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England. He befriended Zombies singer Colin Blunstone and bassist Chris White when they were schoolchildren, and was a roommate of White and keyboardist Rod Argent in 1967. The band's first album featured a cover photograph of the group, but Quirk was asked by the band to design something different for their second LP. He was brought to Abbey Road Studios, where the Zombies were recording, for inspiration and not only came up with cover illustration, but also the record's title.
“I can remember sitting on some stairs, and it was around half past one in the morning, and they were thinking of titles," Quirk later wrote. "I had a pad and a pencil, and they were having a discussion, and out came the word ‘odyssey,’ and I just wrote it in this floral writing. And then out of it came ‘oracle,’ and I wrote that down. When the guys came back from a break, I showed it to them and said, ‘How about this?’ And they said, ‘Perfect, absolutely perfect – color it in, put some figures in. You know what the songs are about.’ And that was it.”
But Quirk misspelled the first word in the title as "odessey," a mistake that wasn't noticed until after the album came out. “I ended up spelling odyssey wrong, so that’s my claim to fame," he noted. "There’s lots of theories online about why it’s ... wrong, but there’s no conspiracy.”
Quirk continued his creative pursuits, not just as a visual artist, but as an author of children's books and as a poet. He also wrote and directed musicals for schools. Throughout the years, he remained friends with the band and collaborated with them again in 2015 to create the artwork for Still Got the Hunger and, two years later, contributed heavily to their official history, The "Odessey": The Zombies in Words and Images.
"My oldest friend ... died this morning," White said. "A great loss to myself and all his friends. His creativity and laughter will be sorely missed."
“I’d known Terry since the earliest days of the Zombies, from 1962," Argent added. "He, along with Chris, was my flatmate when I first moved away from home in the '60s. He was then, as he remained all his life, the loveliest man, hugely talented and unremittingly enthusiastic, with a terrific and never-ending capacity for work. Terry was honestly one of that rare breed that cast a pool of sunshine wherever he went. He’ll be so missed.”
Terry is survived by his wife, Erica, their five children and seven grandchildren.