5 album covers you probably didn't know were designed by famous artists
Scorpions - Love at First Sting
In 1984, the Scorpions released their album "Love at First Sting," which cemented their international popularity. Its erotic cover photo was shot by the legendary Helmut Newton. It was their most successful record in the US and reached sixth spot in the Billboard charts - but with another cover. After a complaint by Wal-Mart, it was replaced with a less controversial photo of the band members.
Babyshambles - Sequel to the Prequel
Despite his well publicized drug addictions, Pete Doherty, the frontman of Babyshambles, is also an exceptionally talented musician. The cover of the band's third album was designed by none other than the British artist and Turner Prize winner Damien Hirst. The artwork builds on a photo shot by rock photographer Pennie Smith.
The Beatles - The White Album
Minimalist design, huge success: Although the original name of this album is "The Beatles," it became known as "The White Album" because of its special cover - a plain white image. Famous Pop Art artist Richard Hamilton met The Beatles in the 60s and was commissioned to design the artwork for this milestone in music history. He allegedly got paid $316 for the job.
Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
Everyone who once used to be a little punk knows this cover by The Sex Pistols. The title "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" perfectly shows the band's attitude - pure provocation. While their outfit was designed by Vivienne Westwood, the cover for their only studio album was done by an artist with a similar anarchistic attitude, Jamie Reid.
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
This record from 1988 was Sonic Youth's breakthrough - and its iconic artwork may have contributed to its success. "Kerze" is a photo-realistic painting of a candle by the famous contemporary artist Gerhard Richter. The members of the influential rock band are said to be big fans of the German painter.
Album covers not only give a first impression, they become an icon of the music they accompany. Some famous covers were designed by established artists. Which legendary photographer signed this artwork for the Scorpions?
Until 1940, vinyl records used to be packed in plain white jackets, without a label or a cover design. Then the American illustrator Alex Steinweiss came up with the idea to create artwork for records. He figured the images could give listeners an idea of the sound of the music on the record.
Music producers were initially skeptical, but they were easily convinced when they realized the sales of the colorful covers increased. Since then, albums have featured an incredible variety of designs. This artwork not only serves as a marketing tool for the records, it conveys the image of the musicians as well.
Icons of design
Bands now outdo each other with increasingly creative artwork. Some covers have turned into cultural icons, from Nirvana's diving baby on "Nevermind" or the prism on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
Many people do not know that some famous covers were created by established and renowned artists, as was the case for the "White Album" by The Beatles, considered by some critics as the best record of all time.
If this claim can be disputed, the album nevertheless established an official record in December 2015: It became the most expensive vinyl of all time. At an auction in Beverly Hills, California, a music lover paid $790,000 (nearly 700,000 euros) for an original pressing of the album from 1968. That's 10 times more than the auction house expected. Before the copy was auctioned, it was stored in a safe in London owned by The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
The first copies of the "White Album" were numbered, and that one was identified as number 0000001 - the very first printing. Apart from that number, the cover features a very simple white artwork, designed by a major Pop Art painter. Find out who it was by clicking through the High Five gallery above.
Antje Binder / rk