Rock ’n’ Roll isn’t dead. In fact, it’s very much alive and its creators still as highly revered, because Rolls-Royce has just revealed four out of nine remarkable bespoke Wraiths that have been ‘Inspired by British Music’.
Created in close collaboration with some of the most prolific rock icons of the century, the cars are undoubtedly British in every way.
Because each hand-built Wraith carries a very personal message, the cars needed more than superficial livery. A visit to the home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England, was necessary, where each musician worked closely with Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor and his bespoke designer Matthew Danton to achieve results befitting of their longstanding legacy.
So if your prized vinyl collection includes something from The Who, The Kinks or The Beatles, you’re going to want to sit up for this. Here are the four legends that recently unveiled their bespoke Wraiths at the Sanderson Hotel in Fitzrovia, London.
Roger Daltrey CBE, lead singer and frontman of The Who
It isn’t hard to make out who was responsible for each car. On one, the cover art for the 1969 album Tommy adorns the Wraith’s massive bonnet. The almost three-dimensional masterpiece by artist Mike McInnerney is an adaptation of his original work for one of the most influential bands of all time, The Who. The album propelled the band to superstardom back in the day and naturally, so did McInnerney’s art.
The Who references don’t stop inside the car. Inside, each headrest is embroidered with a motif relating to the album art. The rear-seat waterfall sees a pinball machine that pays homage to the track Pinball Wizard.
And that’s only one of two Wraiths that The Who’s frontman Roger Daltrey helped design, both of which will see its sales proceeds channeled towards the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The other car will pay tribute to the band as a whole, which is obvious once you catch a glimpse of the band’s mod-target roundel logo on the dashboard clock and stitched into the leather waterfall. On its two copper door flights, lyrics from the famous Join Together and I Can See for Miles are elegantly engraved.
And while Daltrey’s signature makes the headrests, the best The Who touch has got to be the embroidery of Keith Moon’s Pictures of Lily drum kit. As a nod to the band’s habit of destroying its instruments at the end of a show, Rolls-Royce kindly reminded us of the time Moon blew up his set after requesting for a pyro cannon and more explosives be placed in one of his kick drums. This incident occurred during an appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967.
Sir George Martin, record producer/ ‘the fifth Beatle’
The late Sir George Martin would also have been proud of his Wraith, which his son Giles Martin helped design. Martin, who passed away in 2016, was the face behind the some of The Beatles’ best songs, and was even dubbed ‘the Fifth Beatle’ by Sir Paul McCartney.
Now, each of his 30 number-one hit singles are immortalised by embroidery in the rear cabin leather waterfall, and his signature is stitched into the headrests. The two copper door-flights see engravings such as his famous saying “The recording is not what one hears, but what one must make others hear,” on one, and the original handwritten arrangement for The Beatles’ Yesterday on the other.
While Martin supported a wide range of charitable causes, the Fly Navy Heritage Trust — which restores and flies classic Royal Navy aircrafts — always stayed particularly close to his heart, and will receive proceeds from the sale of this car.
Sir Ray Davies, singer and songwriter of The Kinks
Besides being notoriously estranged from his brother and co-member Dave, Sir Ray Davies from The Kinks was known for writing many of the hit singles for the band. Now, he pays tribute to his A-Team with lyrics from Shangri-La and Drivin’ via engravings on the door-flights — in his own handwriting, of course.
Like the other cars, the rear’s leather waterfall and headrests also receive special treatment, each embroidered with the band’s logo and Davies’ signature respectively. However, unlike the other cars, the two umbrellas within the Wraith’s doors are also marked with lyrical engravings from Sunny Afternoon: ‘When it’s raining on a sunny afternoon, in the summer time.” Talk about being poetic.
The other collaborations to be unveiled will also include one by Dame Shirley Bassey, who sang three James Bond title songs such as the seminal Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever, and one with Francis Rossi OBE of Status Quo.
Clearly, some of the world’s best rock musicians come from Britain, and the same can be said about its cars too.