As far as “fifth Beatles” go, Klaus Voormann has forever been at the top of that elite list. Along with being an intimate part of the pre-Fab Four’s Hamburg circle, his trio Paddy, Klaus & Gibson was taken under the wings of Beatles manager Brian Epstein upon Voormann’s arrival to Great Britain. The bassist/graphic artist continued his collaboration with the Beatles team, famously, by crafting the immediately epic mix of illustration and collage cover art for their “Revolver” album in 1966, not long before joining Manfred Mann. Though he had gone off and joined the Mann clan, Voormann remained friends with the Beatles, together and separately — most particularly George Harrison, with whom he collaborated on 1970’s “All Things Must Pass,” and John Lennon.
In 1969, Voormann became a member of Lennon’s hastily gathered ensemble for his and Yoko Ono’s “Live Peace in Toronto” performance with Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr, a band with but one rehearsal en route to Canada. Continuing with Starr as Lennon/Ono’s taut rhythm section, Voormann was an essential part of 1970’s “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band,” an album whose freshly remastered, eight-disc super deluxe box, “The Ultimate Collection,” is now out via Capitol/UMe. Lennon once described his solo breakout as “the best thing I’ve ever done,” and Voormann seconds that emotion. He spoke about the old album’s new sound during a lengthy conversation from his studios near Munich, where he is putting the finishing touches on cover art for an upcoming Scorpions album.