C.U. Bands and Fans' Terry Brown chats with BUB PHILLIPPE, who worked for 12 years as REO Speedwagon's sound man and still lives in Champaign. He still runs audio for corporate events and does installation work as an independent contractor. Here, he gives the full scoop on the cover for 'You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish."
"After stints with the Doobie Brothers, King Crimson, Steve Miller, ZZ Top and other bands, while also being closely associated to REO with my sound company, Sound Factory, REO eventually hired me as their sound guy. I spent 12 years working directly with them on tour and in the studio. Eventually, I also took on the role of crew chief. That was like trying to slow down a runaway train.
"During the recording of the 'Tuna' album, I was instructed to take our grand piano, some tuning forks and a tuna fish out to the desert and meet up with a photographer named Tom Wilkes. Not wanting to haul our Baldwin grand piano out to the desert and set it up, I went to an L.A. prop shop and rented an upright piano prop. I drove around to L.A. music stores and bought tuning forks. I happened to find a really cool, odd large one. Then I drove to a Long Beach fish market and bought a frozen tuna, which I put in a cooler with dry ice. Having my material in hand, I drove out to Joshua Tree National Forest to meet the photographer.
"Once there, I took instructions from Tom on where to place the piano, and we started shooting. Then we got to Tuna time ... I pulled the fish out of the cooler, stuck the large tuning fork in his mouth and Tom started shooting. I held it as low on the tail as I could until the desert sun started thawing it out. Eventually, the fish started flopping over, blood started running out of its gills and down my hands and arms as Tom kept shooting, trying to get the right pose, lighting and sun reflection on the tuning fork. I'm not positive, but I think we left the fish in the desert.
"I feel fortunate and honored to have had the opportunity to spend my life working in the music industry with great bands and talented musicians, while working alongside all the dedicated people that make it happen."