In the post-World War II years, J.S. Bach became a mass market celebrity, used in ads to sell recording & playback equipment (and in 1964, BP gasoline), and in album art to sell LPs. Indeed, the composer’s bust started showing up in many new and exciting contexts: flying through outer space, enticing a cheesecake model, being filled up with wine.
As a pop star he traversed genres of psych rock, easy listening, jazz, disco, electronic and classical. One might even argue that he was the father not only of Western Classical music, but of the “Peacock Revolution” in 1960s men’s fashion as well. He certainly wore the ruffled sleeve well.
Many of these pop portraits played on the irony of the stoic, lofty genius engaging in pedestrian, if not “earthy,” activities, with liner notes and ad copy reminding us of his 1705 street brawl, his month in jail, and of the virility that allowed him to father 20 children.