Once described as the “world’s best scrapbook maker” by author Douglas Adams, the work of Potters Bar’s Storm Thorgerson is iconic.
From Pink Floyd to Wings, he’s worked with some of the biggest artists in the world, and here are seven of his best album designs.
Wings – Group on the Run (1973)
Following the disappointment of Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, Paul McCartney and Wings needed to make a statement, both musically and visually.
What followed in late 1973 was a line-up change and a legendary album, as the former Beatle, his wife Linda McCartney and Denny Laine released Band on the Run.
Storm Thorgerson was commissioned to create the album cover and he came up with a design as memorable as the music.
Alongside photographer Clive Arrowsmith, he gathered the band and famous celebrities such as Michael Parkinson and Christopher Lee, at Osterley Park on October 28, 1973 to have their photo taken dressed as convicts caught in the spotlight of a prison spotlight.
They ran into trouble, however, with Arrowsmith later revealing that the cover was one of four he found usable.
The low power of the spotlight meant everyone had to stand still for two seconds to get the correct exposure, which was made difficult by the photographer and the subjects feeling a little more fatigued following a party hosted by McCartney the night before.
10cc – Deceptive Bends (1977)
Storm was known for taking inspiration from the band and adding his own twist when designing album covers, and that’s exactly what he did for 10cc’s fifth studio album.
The title of the album was taken from a sign warning of dangerous bends on the A24 between Leatherhead and Dorking in Surrey.
“Every day I would drive down from London and see the ‘Deceptive Bends’ sign. It struck me to be quite a subtle word the Department for Transport used, and Eric agreed it was a nice title” , said singer Graham Gouldman.
However, Storm decided that rather than refer to the road in the work, he would use bends, a life-threatening condition that can occur during scuba diving where gas becomes trapped in the bloodstream.
The striking cover is instantly recognizable and depicts a woman being transported from the sea by a diver wearing an old-fashioned copper hat diving suit.
T.Rex – Electric Warrior (1971)
The artwork for T.Rex’s second studio album is an all-time classic, but it’s also the defining and iconic image of the late glam rocker Marc Bolan, who tragically lost his life in a car accident in 1977.
Based on a photo taken by Kieron ‘Spud’ Murphy of the frontman of T.Rex at a concert, Thorgerson would ramp up the contrast until Bolan was a figure surrounded by a golden glow.
Very different from many of their other works, Storm provided the perfect picture of the band’s rock and roll masterpiece.
Ween – The Mollusk (1997)
By the late 1990s, Thorgerson was a legend in the music industry, and despite his production slowing down, he continues to take on new work.
Among those projects was Ween’s 1997 album The Mollusk, after the experimental rock duo approached him to design a cover for their nautical-themed album.
He created a striking image of sea life transformed into a single creature, but the designer was so taken aback by the sound of the album that he created additional promotional material at no additional cost.
Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door (1979)
If there was one album to demonstrate Thorgerson’s genius, it would be Led Zeppelin’s 1979 album In Through the Out Door.
The artwork shows a scene in a bar with a man burning a letter, but the designer took six images from the perspective of other people who appear in the various images.
To accomplish this, he then offered a brown pocket outer sleeve to cover the image, so record buyers wouldn’t know what cover they were getting.
And to top it off, the artwork was black and white until water was poured over it, turning it into a colorful image.
For its unique concept, Thorgerson deservedly received a Grammy for best album ensemble.
Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 3: Melt (1980)
The former Genesis rocker’s four albums from 1977 to 1982 are rather confusing, with all of the albums being self-titled.
But fans gave them all the cover-related names, with Car, Scratch, and Security for albums one, two, and four.
For album three, the name Melt was adopted thanks to Thorgerson and Gabriel deliberately ruining the polaroid images.
“Peter himself joined us at Hipgnosis to disfigure himself by manipulating Polaroids as they were developed,” Storm said.
“Peter impressed us greatly with his ability to appear unflattering, preferring the theatrical or the artistic to the cosmetic.”
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
The most iconic album cover in music history.
After criticism from Pink Floyd’s EMI label for earlier artwork, keyboardist Richard Wright asked Thorgerson for a “simple and bold” design for The Dark Side of the Moon.
The design was inspired by a photograph of a prism with a beam of color projected through it that Storm had found in a photography book.
After some edits and consultation with the band, Refractive Prism Light was chosen for the cover and the rest is history.