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Chris Whorf, a Grammy Award-winning art director who helped develop album covers for the likes of John Lennon, David Bowie, Isaac Hayes, Cher and The Village People, has died. He was 76.
Whorf died Aug. 5 in Seattle after a battle with cancer, his stepson, Matthew Alexander, announced.
Whorf and his design studios, Gribbitt! and Art Hotel, worked with music companies including Warner Bros., A&M, RCA, Paramount, Stax, Capitol, EMI and Geffen Records.
His collaboration with music business impresario Neil Bogart inspired Whorf’s signature graphics for Bogart’s Casablanca Record & FilmWorks and Boardwalk Entertainment.
As Bogart’s vp creative services, Whorf developed both companies’ visual identities, from packaging and advertising to music videos. Among the many honors he received during his career was The New York Art Directors Gold Medal.
He also did work on albums recorded by John Denver, Donna Summer, James Taylor and George Clinton.
Whorf was the son of Richard Whorf, an actor who played famed Broadway producer Sam Harris opposite James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and went on to direct episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke and My Three Sons. Painter John Whorf and linguist Benjamin Whorf were his uncles.
Whorf attended The Lawrenceville School and Stanford University and later studied architecture at USC. That led to work with noted designers Charles and Ray Eames on the IBM Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, with the Rex Goode design organization on Warner Bros.’ Burbank headquarters and with architect William Pereira on the master plan for Los Angeles International Airport.
Following four decades of working in the L.A. music business, Whorf and his wife, Betsy, retired to Baja Sur, Mexico, and later to Seattle.
In addition to his wife and stepson, Whorf is survived by his daughters Maggie (and her husband Serge) and Madison; son Elliot; Alexander’s wife, Katja; and brother David and his wife, Laurel.
Donations can be made in his memory to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
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