When the CD revolution began, a number of artists lamented the fact that the album cover art and liner notes were now reduced down a tiny booklet.
Before everything was done in Photoshop, the album covers of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s had incredible artwork, much like the glory days of movie posters, and we just lost one of the masters of album art design, Storm Thorgerson.
If you don’t know the name, you certainly know one of his most legendary designs, the cover for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Thorgerson also did the covers for Floy’ds Wish You Were Here, Animals, and A Momentary Lapse of Reason, among others. You also know his work with Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy, Presence), The Scorpions, Peter Gabriel, Mars Volta, Audioslave, Muse and more.
According to his wiki page, Thorgerson went to high school with Roger Waters and Syd Barrett. He was also friends with David Gilmour when they were teens, and was the best man at his wedding. As the BBC reports, Gilmour called Thorgerson “an inseparable part of our work. He has been a constant force in my life, both at work and in private, a shoulder to cry on and a great friend. I will miss him.”
Thorgerson told Rolling Stone it was his job to interpret Floyd’s music with his design, “and with Dark Side it was very much about the madness of the lyrics…I think the triangle, which is a symbol of thought and ambition, was very much a subject of Roger’s lyrics. So the triangle was a very useful icon to deploy…”
Thorgerson also told musicbox-online, “I like photography because it is a reality medium, unlike drawing which is unreal. I like to mess with reality…to bend reality. Some of my works beg the question of is it real or not? Is the man really on fire. Why would he just be standing there? Why is there a cow on the cover [on Atom Heart Mother]? It doesn’t have anything to do with the album, or does it?”
Great album art is one of many things we’ve lost in the downloadable age of music, but Thorgerson’s artwork still stands the test of time, and will continue to live on, just like the legendary music he created it for. Several years before he passed, Thorgerson told the BBC, “People pay me for my thoughts and my dreams. I think in that sense I’m very fortunate.”