JOHN VARVATOS: We would buy albums just because of the album cover at times.
You didn't know who the artists were, but that album cover is so [bleep] cool that you thought that the band was going to be the same way.
And sometimes it was, and sometimes it wasn't.
The album cover is where the person gets their-- their idea of the group.
And you put the record on, and you'd be staring at that picture.
With "Abbey Road," "Sgt.
Pepper," "Definitely Maybe," "Morning Glory," you've got these visual connections.
That's what makes the image iconic.
It's because it's what everyone associates with the artist.
Is it like a hit song?
Do you want to keep sneaking a peek, you know?
If a band looked great-- and I would quote The Clash as being one of the best looking bands in the history of music-- don't hide it.
Put them on the cover.
I bought that Twigs album a couple of years ago, it was a painting of her face.
I had no idea what the music was, but that made me go and buy the album where I normally wouldn't have picked it up.
Paul Weller was one of my biggest heroes growing up, and that picture is I think one of the best pictures of Paul Weller ever taken.
It captured his [bleep], you know, his "I don't give a [bleep] about what people think about me but I care about what I look like".
He was just so good looking as well.
I had a bit of a crush on him.
I feel like the rotating cover is definitely iconic.
Every time I see that image, even if it wasn't me, I would feel like, oh, that's such an amazing image.
As much as people would say where were you when you first heard Public Enemy or where were you when you first heard NWA, I think the image that comes into your mind very often when people say that is the cover of the record.
[theme music playing] In the morning, we get up, make coffee, and I start listening to records.
And I look at the covers.
They mean so much to me, all them album covers, man.
Typically when I think of music photography in an iconic sense, it always corresponds to those albums that moved me.
So things like Led Zeppelin II or Hendrix or James Brown at the Apollo, that was inspirational.
I love when I get an album sleeve and all those images are speaking to me.
They're for me.
The best portraits that Hipgnosis took are the ones of Peter Gabriel-- "Car," "Melt," and "Scratch."
He wanted his face disfigured, or he wanted to be hidden.
He wanted to be mysterious.
You know, that's pretty brave of an artist to show himself like that.
I remember being afraid of AC/DC when I was, like, seven because they had [bleep] devil horns on.
If you're seven and you know who Satan is and you're not afraid, you really haven't partied with them.
Back in the day, I would compose every shot that I could with an album cover in mind.
And because I was shooting on a Hasselblad most of the time, I was shooting square format.
So what I was looking at, to me, was always an album cover.
The sleeve was an intrinsic part of the experience.
It's something that says something about the band, the record, the time, that moment.
And then you turn it over and you'd read all the liner notes and read all the credits and the people's names.
Sometimes there were lyrics.
Sometimes there weren't lyrics.
Sometimes it was stories, but there was always a very big 12-inch canvas.
And that 12-inch square was a lovely, you know, art piece.
I see music as much as I hear it.
And so the cover, uh, is an extension of that thinking.
I might not even own the album, but I always love that album cover.
Like, I always thought, like, the music wasn't my thing, but the album cover was amazing, you know.
Going back to the days when albums were a new thing, you had the crooners like the Frank Sinatras or the Nat King Coles turned into the Elvis Presleys and the Eddie Cochrans and what have you.
Those guys just happened to have it all.
They were good performers, they looked good, and they would have their photographs taken periodically for press, for PR.
It was a very simple step to get a designer to actually place the name on a cover.
And looking back, you think they're classics, but, in fact, what's classic is you've got the iconic image of Eddie Cochran staring out at you, looking moody and, you know, fantastic.
[smooth music playing] The first Beatles album cover was shot in the EMI building by Angus McBean, who was one of Britain's greatest, you know, most interesting photographers shall we say in the '50s.
It's just a pop portrait.
It's just like an EMI throw away press picture.
MICHAEL PRITCHARD: In fairness to McBean, he was probably asked to produce this image quite quickly, and he produced something quite ordinary.
In the early days, you get a photograph of somebody playing the guitar, holding a microphone and that would be the cover.
The one that really broke the mold for what album covers were going to look like after that was "Meet the Beatles."
[moody music playing] They had Robert Freeman do the next three albums, I think three or four, which were all fantastic.
GERED MANKOWITZ: Freeman changed everything.
He was a really masterful photographer.
The Beatles are the Beatles, and from album to album, they were still the Beatles.
But they evolved so quickly in such a short period of time-- new look, new sound, new everything like they were a brand new band.
And the album covers, they visually changed from year to year.
You look at what they looked like in 1962 and '63, they don't look the same.
You look at them in '63 and '69, absolutely from another planet.
The whole '60s movement has disruption after disruption, and the Beatles is a microcosm of what that disruption looks like.
You've got "With the Beatles" very serious, very dark, very uncommercial.
He came up with this idea of the three Beatles in a row and Ringo down below.
It was serious and very moody.
The band looked like artists.
They had an integrity to them.
There was no musical instrument.
There was no razzle dazzle, no stage shot.
It was like "here we are".
It was a work of art.
Different characters to how the Beatles were being portrayed elsewhere in the media, jumping around and being wacky.
It reinvented what the album cover would look like because it came from the era of jazz.
[fast-paced jazz music playing] Bob worked with Coltrane, and I think he brought that aesthetic.
These images kind of exist in this kind of dusky black against gray against darker gray, you know, kind of world.
I'll tell you why all those jazz greats look cool.
Because a lot of the guys in them are Black.
If you were in a very dark jazz club, you've got dark skin and dark environment, and you don't have to fight the contrast.
You can just play with the light so much more creatively because you've got a much narrower range of tones to deal with.
When you have John Coltrane, you've got darkness and darkness [fast-paced jazz music playing] There is this incredible internal depth and maybe even turmoil going on.
That's the "A Love Supreme" cover.
Carlos Santana puts it this way.
He looks totally silent and deep in thought but that his thoughts are screaming.
There's gotta be a reason they put the image on both the front and the back cover.
[jazz piece ends] What jazz represented and what jazz photography was trying to reflect is this idea of Black America and White America having the safe place to meet.
I'll tell you what was revolutionary was record covers being devoted to Black artists.
Blue Note revered, they honored, they celebrated African-American culture.
You go to Columbia, they're putting modern art.
They're putting models.
They're trying each and everything.
With the push of some of the artists, especially Miles Davis, they start to realize, no, we've got to do-- lean more towards this, uh, Blue Note idea of letting the artists represent themselves There's a famous story of Miles Davis's first Columbia album in his collaboration with Gil Evans called "Miles Ahead," and the initial cover showed a white model sitting on a yacht.
And he went up to the record company, to the-- to his producer, and he says "what's that white bitch doing on the cover of my album?"
and they changed the album cover.
And so the empowerment of having an image of a Black artist on the album cover was a leap forward.
In later albums that, uh, Miles Davis did for Columbia, you'll notice that the women in his life become the women on the cover of his albums.
So whether it was, uh, his wife Frances or his next wife Betty Mabry, they are all these women who appear on the cover of his album, a Black woman, not white America.
The photographs were riding the vehicle of music, and the music was riding the vehicle of photographs.
And then they became synonymous.
You can't take them away from each other once it starts.
[music playing] I never thought, nor did Storm, that we'd go into album covers as a creative world.
The image that changed our way of thinking was Peter Blake's "Sgt.
In 1967, it suddenly became clear that actually the artist knew more about how to do things than the record company.
And the best thing was to let them get on with it.
Behind the Beatles are standing some of the most famous people in history, and yet the Beatles are standing before them, perhaps more famous at least in the current day.
Did that go through their minds at the time?
I have no idea.
It was sculptural.
It was photographic.
It sums up an era.
It sums up the music fantastically.
It was fascinating to look at.
It really drew your attention.
To me, it's one of the greatest album covers ever done.
MICHAEL PRITCHARD: It instantly says-- the '60s to us, it says the Beatles, but it's more than just a photograph.
It's a work of art in its own right.
[music concludes] [camera clicks] It isn't just about photographers.
Great album covers come out of graphic designers.
Come out of fine artists like Peter Blake and, uh, sometimes examples of pure design, abstract design, all sorts of stuff.
Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and Bad Company and Genesis and Peter Gabriel, they were all bucking the system musically.
It was a tremendous time of creativity.
It's the imagery and it's the music and they come together and they should be hand in glove because it's visual, it's audio, it's art.
I always think about how powerful "Animals" by Pink Floyd is.
It provides a lens through which to listen to the music.
And that's a fascinating thing, you know, where an album artwork provides an extra dimension that somehow informs the music.
AUBREY POWELL: When you're a visual artist, you want to get your work out there.
You want people to acknowledge what you do if you believe that it's art.
And to do that, you've got to find somewhere to go with it.
And Hipgnosis found album covers.
[music playing] ANDY EARL: Storm Thorgerson, who is the famous art director from Hipgnosis, he was completely focused on what he wanted.
There was no-- there's no deliberation.
The Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here" cover, I remember that having an impact on me before I even really understood it.
It's not like now you could do that on a computer and make him look like he's on fire.
I'm like "they set somebody on fire", and they took a photograph of it.
Their work was genuinely mind expanding, and it took you somewhere beyond the realms of your bedroom walls.
You know, we all revered Storm and Powell's work as Hipgnosis, and I thought, well, maybe I should go to see them with my pictures.
So I made an appointment at this appalling office that they had with a sink for a toilet.
And Storm sort of said, "Look, do you want to go on the road with Floyd?
We need a tour photographer.
I'm going to send one of my guys and I'll send you as well if you want to go."
and I'm like "Yes."
[musical accent] He was, um, very hard to work for but a really loyal and great friend.
[electric guitar strumming] STEPHEN MORRIS: The sleeves said more to me about Pink Floyd than some of the music did.
The sleeves gave them a kind of mystery and made them more psychedelic.
AUBREY POWELL: Pink Floyd demanded depth, so when we created "Ummagumma," there was a feeling that one had to show this depth within them.
[fingers snap] Storm said, "You know what?
A picture within a picture within a picture within a picture."
And there was a very smart idea.
It was based on the idea of looking through reflection where you get two mirrors but with this really trick thing which was that the characters would keep changing places.
Where we discovered this was on a tin of cocoa from Holland.
And there was a picture like this of a woman holding a tray, and on the tray was the tin of cocoa of a woman holding the tray on the tin of [gibberish] so it went on.
We loved it.
AUBREY POWELL: Once we had an idea of a concept that we wanted the band to have and they accepted it, it was then a question of realizing the idea, and sometimes that was more difficult than it sounds because we didn't have the advantages that you have now with modern technology.
It's actually all there accessible in a gray box on your-- on your desk nowadays.
That's liberating in one way, uh, um, and democratizing, but, at the same time, it's a shame, really, that there isn't that same-- uh, there's not-- there's not enough suffering in it.
[rock drum beat playing] So Kelis "Kaleidoscope," I knew that she was from Harlem, I'd worked with her before.
I knew I wanted to get really colorful, and I was going to take her to one of the churches in Harlem and, like, bang lights through stained glass windows in order to have this brilliance and shining and put the smoke and the shards of light coming through.
And she's like "But I'm not really religious though, you know.
I'm sort of more spiritual, and I like hummingbirds and the way they visit" and, you know.
Like, I was like, "Oh, that's awesome, too."
Like, "Let's make you the stained glass window."
[electronic music playing] So we went and got Joanne Gair, who famously did Demi Moore for the cover of "Vanity Fair," and she agreed to paint this version of a stained glass window on Kelis, and Kelis was down for it.
Went topless and five hours later, she's a stained glass window with all of the different things that meant something to her.
I was like "Wow, this is amazing."
"Between the Buttons" was sort of almost the first conceptual album.
I had an idea.
I suggested it.
Everybody went with it, but I didn't know it was going to be the album cover until it was actually decided.
"Between the Buttons" was interesting because how on Earth do you get a group to look together when, from many, many aspects of the group, it's falling apart at the seams.
I never liked shooting with manufactured filters.
I never liked that because anybody could buy the same filter and get the same effect.
So I got a piece of glass and black card and put some Vaseline.
And I discovered that if you smear the Vaseline in a circle you get a particular flare, and if you do it in straight lines coming out of the middle, you get another type of flare.
And I just thought, "Oh, this is crazy.
This is strange.
I love the way they're dissolving into the trees, man."
ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM: When we were doing the shoot, Gered was concerned that Brian was not fitting in.
I remember chewing cocaine leaves in Colombia and acids at 8,000 feet and therefore a little closer to where Brian may be resting.
I looked up and said, oh, Brian, you fool.
Why did you have to take it so seriously?
But there he was looking around Charles Laughton in a psychedelic movie.
And it worked.
If Gered was here, I would tell him that he influenced me and that I do use a little Vaseline around the lens sometimes.
I shot The Killers with that effect.
ADRIAN UTLEY: I've always wanted to buy some of Gered Mankowitz's photographs.
I went to an exhibition, but I couldn't quite afford it.
And he had some fantastic shots of the Stones.
You are glad that those people were photographed because they look so cool.
And for me, they're iconic.
You know, Brian Jones is there, Keith.
They're-- all of them, they look just brilliant, and they've obviously been yanked out of bed or haven't been to bed.
['Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd] NICK MASON: Once you're involved with Hipgnosis, what seemed so much more important was to have an image that was really sort of fascinating.
I don't think the images were helpful in explaining things at all.
I think they were far more exciting than that.
Delicate sound, birds, thunder, lightning, light bulbs.
♪ So-- so you think you can tell- ♪ ANDY EARL: Storm just loves harsh light, no shadows.
He said that's how we need to shoot it.
And I'm always thinking, but in the evening, the light's really nice.
But, no, he's not interested.
We shot it in Spain.
We went out with boxes and boxes of these light bulbs.
The customs officers said, no, what are-- what are all these lightbulbs?
And he opened them up and he said, "No, no, no, in Spain, these are no good."
He said we have the screw fitting and not the bayonets.
♪ How I wish-- how I wish you were here ♪ ANDY EARL: That picture, we shot it 19 times.
This is all before Photoshop.
You know, the birds had to be shot for real.
This doesn't go down very well with people these days, but basically what they did in order to get them to flutter is they put fishing weights on the wings.
So I was going 1, 2, 3, and they threw them in the air, flutter, flutter, flutter, and came down.
And that's how we had them in a group right there around his head.
All the weights came off by the way and they're living happily in Spain now so they're fine.
[laughter] [camera clicks] I like to think whoever is in front of my photograph, I'm their new best friend.
It's like a romance between the two of you because it's give and take, give and take constantly.
KEVIN CUMMINS: The most important thing in photography is to have a relationship with the sitter.
It's almost like you're asking that person to fall in love with you for 10 minutes or half an hour.
I always felt that Juergen always, always gets me.
We've worked together for so many, many years.
It's like if you want a sexy photograph taken of yourself, be sexy.
When I pulled the jumper up and Juergen caught that moment, for me, that was sexy because it was about what you don't see.
It's very, very important to have that sort of relationship with everybody, so we're all enjoying ourselves.
I mean, it's hard work, uh, but the point is we're enjoying our work and we're presenting something which is, most of the time, the work of art.
We were with Henry and Gary Burden, there was no point in-- in looking at anybody else.
Our very beings were connected.
They were the same people as us.
They were hippies.
They smoked a lot of dope.
They loved life.
They loved sunshine.
They loved women.
They loved everything.
The first real cover-- I mean, the first really, you know, good cover is-- were with my partner Gary Burden.
When we did the first, the Crosby, Stills, and Nash record, we were about three quarters of the way through it.
And Henry came to the studio, and we were hanging out.
And we realized that we would have to have a cover.
They had no photographs.
They were working on their first album.
We were doing, basically, a publicity picture just to announce to the world these guys are singing together now.
GRAHAM NASH: So we went for a walk.
We passed the Santa Monica car wash. And right next door to it was this dilapidated house with an old couch out front, obviously falling apart, obviously past its prime.
But it seemed to the three of us perfect for the kind of, uh, album that we were making, which was kind of funky, kind of acoustic-y kind of thing And so we sat down on the couch.
And I naturally started photographing up close.
The couch filled the frame perfectly.
But then Gary said, "Back up, back up" until I was across the street getting the whole house because he knew in his mind he could make a wrap around album cover with sort of the rest of the house on the back.
After we took the picture, a few days went by before we got the film back and looked at it.
At the very same time we had finally decided to call ourselves Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
HENRY DILTZ: But they're Nash, Stills, and Crosby in the picture because they didn't even have a name then.
We were sitting in the wrong order.
And so I said let's just go back and take it over again.
And we got to the house, and it wasn't there.
And the house was gone.
It was a vacant lot.
It had been bulldozed into the back of the parking lot the very day that we wanted to reshoot the shot.
That was a surprise.
[hip-hop music playing] JONATHAN MANNION: I shot him three times before I shot, um, "Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of My Blood."
And basically, they're like here's the album title.
Go for it.
We were supposed to shoot the album cover in New York, and nobody could find him.
The people that were sort of handling him are like "We think he might be at the dog breeder."
DMX, like, has certain things like "You know what?
I'm not going to do that.
It's my album cover, and I don't want to do that today, and I'm going to be over here."
And I-- I still don't know where he was or wasn't.
And he walked in the following day.
And he saw the pool of blood, which was, you know, like, 60 gallons of horse's blood.
We slaughtered this horse.
It's not true, not at all.
He's like I'm not going to get in there because, like, I'm going to ruin my pants and stuff.
I was like "Why don't you wear my pants?"
And I took my pants off, you know, in front of about 30 people, and I was like, look, I believe in this.
And I can't really explain entirely why until we're done, but, like, I want you to go with me here.
And he was like "I'm uncomfortable, dog.
Put your pants on."
I was like, OK.
I put my pants back on.
He sat in it.
And he got blood in his eyes, and he was, like, writhing around and it stung.
And I mean, who knew.
Like, I didn't-- I wasn't in it, but we were just trying to accommodate him in getting as much as I possibly could in that moment.
I had chills the entire time.
Like, I had goose bumps, and I basically told my assistants "Hand me film as fast as you possibly can.
Never leave me without a camera in my hands."
Because of that reason, we were able to keep a flow and work through the moment and turn around.
And he just, like, suddenly threw splats of blood against the wall and then just, the blood was sort of like cascading down.
I wanted to give him a great big hug.
I just didn't want to get blood all over me, you know.
He is a professional, and he's a performer, you know, because many people are like, "Ahh, it's gory and it's gruesome and it's a horror film and, like, white man puts Black man in pool of blood.
But why is it that you're not covered with the blood of Christ?
Why isn't that a form of protection?
", which I never really, like, spoke of because I wanted it to be left as an interpretation from the audience.
But I wanted you to look at the image and to not be able to look away from it.
I developed a friendship with Phil Lynott.
And I said, well, we're going to do this live album.
Frank Murray, who was their tour manager, said to me, look, Philip likes you.
You know, maybe you should come on the road for a little bit.
And I said but I've got to go back.
So if you phone the enemy and say you kidnapped me in America, I'll come home, you know, when the job's done.
[rock music playing] San Antonio had a really good orchestra pit that was just a little bit lower than the ones I was used to.
I mean, it's an old Townsend trick.
You know, you drop to your knees and you slide.
And he just slid straight at me, and so I got the cover of "Live and Dangerous."
He's just-- literally his knees are this close.
[music playing] I'm just shooting because I want to shoot Lou Reed the first time he's ever played in England.
And David Bowie had introduced me, and he was Lou Reed.
To me and a few other people, that was a big [bleep] deal.
You got to remember that wasn't shot to be an album cover.
You got to look at it like you're a war photographer, and you get a picture even if it's out of focus.
Who cares, you know?
So, yes, my "Transformer" cover, it felt out of focus initially, but that helped give it the effect.
And then I printed it out of focus the way it was melding the grain together.
It wasn't designed to be a perfect moment.
You know, the gods of whatever pop down and bing, bing, bing, you know.
Forever after, Lou and I maintained a relationship.
I mean including in the years when he cleaned up and I wasn't so clean whereas when I first met him, I was relatively innocent.
You were always innocent compared to Lou.
[rock music fading] When you look at that image, the first thing you see are three guys and a logo.
From that picture, you could tell what they do.
They're quite hard, you know.
They're not-- they're going to be quite aggressive.
You turn it over, and you see what they do for a living.
My idea was they'd been chased probably by a bunch of punks into a sort of lavatory.
They'd escaped them.
And before they left that lavatory, they sprayed their logo.
We built the tiling, probably my best bit of tiling ever anyway.
We didn't grout it because I wanted it to look graphic.
And I went let's do it and just sprayed The Jam.
When they got there, they saw what we were trying to do.
But they were new to it, and Paul, a very, very quick learner, learned quite early on what it all meant and what you needed to do and how you needed to do it, which is why, I think, out of those three people, he looks the most assured.
It's vital the band's, really, are conscious of what they are giving out visually.
ROB O'CONNOR: Not always does someone actually lend themselves to being a head and shoulders shot on their own record cover.
Sometimes that's not the best way to advertise their music, and you want something that's more representative, more illustrative.
And not every band, not every artist knows what they want on their cover.
So you can go through quite a lot of different processes.
The thing I enjoyed the most about working with Blur was the sense of mischief.
They didn't want to toe the party line when it came to the record industry at all.
So with their covers, what we wanted to do is join the fun.
We played a lot with the idea of using a picture of someone else that wasn't them, a complete stranger.
We were playing with the rules of how you design a record cover a bit.
The album is called "Leisure," and we ended up finding this picture in an old advertising stock picture library, and that's how that became the cover.
Blur had introduced us to this kind of way of working that people enjoyed.
[music playing] Some people think they know what they want until they see it, and then they don't want it.
And some people don't have any idea until you show them it.
[interposing voices] I mean I took that picture a year or so before I even met The Strokes.
[rock music playing] I had done some fashion shoot for maybe "The Observer," and the stylist had left all the clothes at my apartment to be picked up the next morning.
And I saw these black Chanel leather gloves lying there, and we hadn't used them for our shoot.
So my girlfriend was getting out of the shower, and I was like, hey, try these on, you know.
And she was like, no, I'm going to bed, I'm tired, you know.
And I was like please, please, just let me take 10 pictures, OK, because I had a pack of Polaroid.
It was my ex-girlfriend.
That's her bum.
But it was all about the Chanel glove.
The first time I met The Strokes, I shot them for "The Face" magazine.
And I think it was their first real photo shoot.
You know, Fab said, wow, you're the first guy to shoot more than a roll of film on us.
And I think during lunch, you know, I showed my book to Julian, and, you know, he was just sitting there flipping through.
And he sees I call it the ass shot.
And he's like, wow, that would be a really cool cover.
Would you mind, you know, if we used it?
I was-- of course.
I was like, no, of course not.
My girlfriend was thrilled, you know.
She got $1,000 I think, and you know, now she's got a famous ass for eternity.
Martin Amos's book "London Fields", it was that story about deliberately going down a notch in society and-- and hanging out in pubs and playing darts and, you know, booze, sex, gambling.
And that became a theme for the whole campaign.
I mean, betting offices was the important one.
We did a cover that was basically a pastiche of the William Hill betting office.
And William Hills had these beautiful window displays that were just very old pictures of sport.
And there was a point where we had three pictures, and the key image of the hero image was the greyhounds.
We distilled it right down to the single image.
That's why it ends up being kind of iconic.
I think iconic means one, right.
[chuckling] So Jamel Shabazz's Flying High, of course, um, was a photograph that came out of his documenting everyday life.
He used photography as a way to capture beauty and the spirit and the energy of what was happening, um, around New York.
It's a moment of elevation in the most grimmest of circumstances.
And that's what Jamel does very well actually.
VIKKI TOBAK: One day, 1982, he was-- found himself in Brownsville, Brooklyn walking around.
He saw these kids that were playing on this old beat up mattress.
I think hygiene would be the first thing you'd think of, like, eww.
You're just taking something that you spend half your life in, and now you just put out on the street.
And then in the case of this photograph, it's taking that space, if you will, and turning it into a place of joy.
And that's-- that's hip hop.
VIKKI TOBAK: Many years later, The Roots and Questlove were looking for a photo for the cover of "Undun."
The story of "Undun" talks about a boy over many songs, and they really felt like that photo encapsulated what they were trying to say on the album.
And so they reached out to Jamel-- this was, you know, many, many, many, years later-- and commissioned that photo.
Questlove talks about when you see that boy doing the backflip, it's like a little piece of heaven.
[camera clicks] Does it stay around, is the big question.
Does it [bleep] stay around?
Of all the parodies of "Abbey Road", of which there have been many hundreds, I think the most favorite of mine was when the Red Hot Chili Peppers walked across Abbey Road stark naked with socks on their [bleep], and that was it.
ROGER SARGEANT: That album cover picture, yeah, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, they wanted to be The Libertines.
They were really big fans of The Libertines.
So we kind of ma-- mashed it together.
But I insisted I did all the Photoshopping on it and then tried to make it as exact as possible.
Yeah, it's nice.
It just means that, you know, the things that you do mean something to people.
And that's a great flattery when that sort of thing becomes part of the collective subconscious.
I was on the fifth floor at Apple in Derek Taylor's office.
And I sold something to Derek, and he said that's great.
Love it, you know.
You're going to hear something.
So I sat down.
John Lennon walked in with an acetate of "Abbey Road" straight from the basement where the lathe has been cutting it.
By the time it came to "She's So Heavy," I nearly peed myself.
I couldn't believe what I was listening to.
The very first photographs that were taken to get the cover for "Abbey Road" were taken by Iain MacMillan, a photographer that the Beatles knew and trusted, and what was required in the composition is that their legs had to be in an inverted V formation perfect.
No bent knees, no people looking away, a clean composition.
Ian knew he got the shot.
The two things they felt most proud about in that shoot is, one, that it took him 20 minutes to get the shot and, two, he got it in six tries.
JOHN KOSH: Having chosen one of the pictures that Iain MacMillan, the late, lovely Iain MacMillan, took of the "Abbey Road" session.
As art director, I was dealing with record labels and the creative directors, and you do not have to announce who they are anymore.
You just had to present their images.
You get to a point where the artists don't even need to be mentioned.
You can get away with not putting anything on the cover, and that stands alone.
So I had deliberately not put the name of the Beatles on the cover.
I got a phone call at 2:00 AM in the morning from the head of EMI Records, which is the parent company for Apple and whatever else, telling me that I had ruined The Beatles, and they would never sell an album.
He had that wonderful, sort of, English, sort of, upper class accent, you know.
So when he calls me, you know that you're in trouble.
I'm now very, very scared and very frightened because I've now ruined the Beatles.
I had to go to Apple next morning, and I went in there at 10 o'clock, and George Harrison was actually there.
And I said to George, look, you know, I got a-- a call from Sir Joe.
What am I going to do?
And George looked to me very nicely-- and got that grin, you know, wonderful grin he had-- and said, well, [bleep] it.
We're The Beatles.
[laughs] And everything then was like, you know, rainbows and unicorns.
[laughs] JONATHAN MANNION: We go to Brooklyn.
It's John Gotti.
I literally shot "Reasonable Doubt" in a solarium that was, you know, facing uptown beautiful north light.
You know, I went really classic-- Hasselblad, Pentax, and a-- a Polaroid 195 land camera.
And it was always him pitted against Nas somehow.
You know, Nas Queens, Jay-Z Brooklyn, you know.
And once the album dropped, it was "Illmatic" versus "Reasonable Doubt."
VIKKI TOBAK: You know, Nas, his childhood face over his neighborhood with the two matching Cadillacs, you know, because it was a one-way street, so they're both facing the same way.
That shot is just so classic.
ANDY EARL: I said can you just throw your guitar in the air.
And he went what like this.
Picked it up and literally just flung it in-- in the air.
And that, to me, caught what he was about.
It was that I couldn't give a [bleep].
You know, he was a scoundrel, and he'd been a scoundrel all his life.
Suddenly there was this album coming out.
They wanted something that looked like man on the road, and it was to get him away from just live shots.
So we bundled him in the back of a van and drove him 30 miles out of Melbourne to this dirt track we found to go and photograph.
I mean, he had such a presence.
He was a big boy, like 6 foot 4, and I was standing on boxes because I'm so short.
I had to get out in order to look him in the eye, you know, that sort of thing.
You know, there's lines and everything all over his face, and he looks like a geography map.
You know, I didn't feel as I was cool in front of him, so he was sort of questioning what's this guy doing in the middle of a railway line.
I mean, I had him walking up and down.
To me, the picture wasn't coming together.
It was a little bit flat, and it didn't sort of sum up what he was about.
Suddenly, these two dogs who belonged to station master were running around everywhere, and then we ended up getting them to set one either side.
And then there's all these storm clouds come up and then boom that was it.
[guitar fading] He was then on Jools Holland's program, and they had a big poster of it up behind him.
And he said, well, I like to call this dog Hell and this one Redemption.
He made up a whole wonderful story about the picture, which, um, uh, it took on a life of its own.
♪ I'm going where sore losers go ♪ ♪ To hide my face and spend my dough ♪ ANDREAS NEUMANN: So we're all in Miami, and it was raining heavily.
We were actually staying in the airport, some-- some weird hotel which the least inspiring location you can imagine.
And then Josh, very late at night, he takes me to the side and says I want to to shoot the album cover tomorrow morning.
[vocalizing] So that might make some people a little bit nervous when you didn't go to bed at midnight and say let's figure it out tomorrow morning because we're flying at 2:00 and Iggy will be here at 10:00 and he has only got half an hour.
So what are we going to do?
Well, I never would ask someone to do something I would not do.
I love the work.
What's a little blood amongst friends?
I love that.
ANDREAS NEUMANN: Next morning, Josh calls me.
He gets here in half an hour.
Let's do the shoot.
I found a great place.
It's down in the garage.
It's totally empty, and it's flooded.
I looked at this leaking parking garage with Dre.
Nothing got said because it was like duh.
- There was so much rain, so they had to take all the cars out of the garage.
[whistling] This is it.
And we looked at each other and just smiled, and it was like I'm getting my stuff.
[rock music playing] ANDREAS NEUMANN: You have four superstars.
What can go wrong?
Just point the camera in the right direction and make sure it's f-- it's-- it's [laughing] it's in focus, right?
Dre is a man of the present looking straight into the future.
He is the most in the now photographer I've ever worked with.
He just believes if there's a problem, the problem's got a problem 'cause it's getting solved.
We don't have any light with us, so let's just do this.
I can shoot with a natural light.
It's OK. And then Iggy arrived in his Rolls Royce Phantom with the beautiful LED lights.
So my idea was, OK, let's use his car to light this situation a little bit.
So Iggy's car was becoming a $500,000 lighting source.
Couldn't be more rock and roll.
While you're doing it, you're like you're sure-- sure about this?
Dre has never said to me "I can't.
That tireless energy is why we've had such a high ratio of hits.
When you saw it, you went, oh, wow, I didn't realize that looked as good as it did.
You could have planned this, like, in LA, and you would have to close down a whole parking structure, had the fire brigade in, and watering this whole thing.
It could have been a $100,000 shoot.
That photo shoot took 40 minutes.
ANDREAS NEUMANN: There's one good shot after the other.
In my opinion, they didn't choose the best shot for the cover, but that's always the photographers.
[laughing] Everybody knew it had to be done in that moment, so I guess it worked out perfectly.
[rock guitar playing] During my first session with the Rolling Stones in early 1965, they came to my studio, and my studio was exactly between Mason's Yard and on the other side was Almond Yard.
And in Almond Yard, there was an enormous building site.
And I'd gone to the foreman earlier in the day, and I said "Can I use the building site?
I'm photographing a band."
And he said, "Yeah, fine.
Beside the building site were the hoardings that were put up at night, you know, to stop people falling down into it, and they created this very narrow triangular shape.
And I thought that's going to make a great cover image because I've got the space for my type and the space for the record company logo.
And I can put the band in there, and it's always good to have a shape that they have to squeeze into.
It forces them, physically, into making a shape.
And I put Brian right in the front partly because his blond hair would stand out against the dark colors of the band but also because he had white trousers on.
And when Andrew saw it, he decided to make it the cover for-- it was called "Out of our Heads" in England and "December's Children" in America.
It was a funny one, "Urban Hymns," because I think it was taken in Richmond Park, and someone had booked two photographers.
So he's setting up all his lights.
Oh my God, he's got assistant with him.
He's got a light meter even.
And it's like how insecure did I feel on that day.
You know, the word awkward, you know, just doesn't-- [laughing] begin to come into it.
But it was just taking a little too long to set everything up and The Verve had been recording "Urban Hymns" for, like, months.
And I think that under really intense time creating this essentially masterpiece, really.
And Richard just got a bit bored.
It's, like, all right, I'll tell you what.
We'll come back when you're ready.
So Richard and the rest of the band went and sat down.
And I'm sort of observing all this, and I thought this is the first time in months that I've seen The Verve that have just switched off.
They're totally relaxed.
I'm having that.
And I just got in there.
[camera clicks] So the cover to "Urban Hymns" is The Verve waiting to have their photograph taken for the cover.
MAN: Buddy-- [laughter] And a lot of photographers don't like to be controlled.
They want the freedom to do what they want to do and express themselves.
I wanted to try to put a vision that they liked so that they would hire me again and again.
MATT HELDERS: We've become more comfortable with being seen, like, being on album covers.
If you don't do a shoot with them, they'll just use a live photo, or they'll just put the singer on and you want to be represented as a band.
And that's the reason why we do bring our own photographers in sometimes 'cause then we are presenting a version of us that we want to present in a way.
And that gives you a bit of control as well, and I think that's quite important.
SKIN: We were in full control.
I mean, our manager Lee Johnson made sure in our record deal that we have core control of all of the artistry.
We had to look through every single thing and we chose photographers and we did all of that.
They had to get permission to put us on toilet bowl.
We don't do that.
I know a lot of other people do that.
A lot of people have a need to control everything.
Because we were on an independent label, we got involved with every process.
Joy Division for this record, which was "Unknown Pleasures," Bernard found this image of the first pulsar, which was a CP-1919.
It was just fantastic.
I wasn't that interested in what the band looked like.
We didn't want people telling us what to do.
That was our aspect to total control.
We weren't megalomaniacs.
We just didn't want people saying you've got to do this and you've got to do that.
Patti was one of the few artists who demanded control over what her album covers were.
FRANK STEFANKO: I was doing an interview for somebody, and they said how come you take such beautiful pictures of Patti Smith.
And I said it's simple because that's the way I see her.
The first time I ever saw her, I was sitting in the co-op.
All of a sudden, the doors opened up, and this tall woman with long black hair-- she mossied like a John Wayne, you know, coming into a bar or something.
And she sat down, and instantly I said I've got to know this person.
So, you know, I started taking some photographs.
And then, of course, coming up to New York, Patti started getting recognition, and, you know, I'd go to some shows up here and some small clubs like the Ocean Club.
These days, Patti is very friendly with both Annie, uh, Leibovitz and, uh, Lynn Goldsmith.
Patti and I are of the same Baby Boomer generation.
And, as an individual, you have a certain sense of yourself.
For the album cover of "Easter," I didn't say out loud let's see your underarm hair.
In fact, I was probably far more conscious of wanting to show that Patti had boobs.
Because she was so thin and because of the other pictures of her, I was more interested in showing that Patti was a girl and not necessarily as androgynous as everybody wanted to deem her to be.
The best part is when Arista airbrushed out the underarm hair.
Most people fought for money, royalties, whatever, but Patti always cared about the visuals.
And so she demanded that they had to put the hair back in under her arm.
I'm very receptive when I photograph.
I want to know what a person wants as much as I want to know what I want.
Actually, I don't know what I want.
I want what they want and that works out for me.
I get a call one day, and it's Bob.
I just got back from Nashville.
Come on over.
I want to show you something.
And he played me "Nashville Skyline", you know And he said I need a picture for my new album.
I head out the door and he's behind me, and he stops and he-- he, uh, takes a hat a hat off-- off the coat rack.
I might have snapped a couple of him sitting on some stone steps outside his house.
But at some point he said to me take a picture from down there.
And he just-- just points to a spot just like that.
And I assume that if the person I'm working with wants that that it's the right thing to do.
So without thinking about it, I start to get down on one knee, and I guess you would say, you know, um, paying homage to a god.
You know, that's what you usually think of when you kneel to somebody.
That's what it is.
And so he says do you think I should wear this hat.
And I'm saying I don't know if you should wear that.
But they take the picture as I'm saying that, and that's him.
It looks like he's tipping his hat, but he's not.
He's wondering, sho-- should I put it on or not, and he's smiling because he's thinking of himself-- he's picturing himself in this funny hat.
So the hat is a joke kind of thing.
The reason why that picture is so special is that he's smiling in it, and he's loving it.
I don't think it was any picture of him before smiling.
[music fading] [camera clicks] ♪ I got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack ♪ ♪ I went out for a ride and I never went back ♪ ♪ Well, like a river that don't know where it's flowing ♪ ♪ I took a wrong turn and I just kept going ♪ ♪ Everybody's got a hungry heart ♪ FRANK STEFANKO: I mean, people call him The Boss and that's because, you know, he has full artistic control over everything, and then that's something that he learned at an early stage of his career.
And he's never let up on that pedal.
Bruce went to see Patti at one of her shows at the Bottom Line in New York, and Patti said you should have this guy Frank Stefanko photograph you from South Jersey.
He's a fan of yours.
So she called me up on the phone.
She said I got Bruce Springsteen over here and we're looking at some photos and he likes the stuff you did.
Yeah, he'd like you to work with him at some point.
You know, would you?
[laughing] I said, um, yeah, I will.
I want to, yes.
Tell him yes.
We said goodbye.
I didn't hear anything for three months.
And then one day the phone rang and this gravelly voice came out from the other side and he said, um, hey, Frankie.
This is Bruce.
Let's get together, do some photos.
What should I bring?
I said, well, you know, bring some changes of clothes and, um, whatever else you want, you know.
Boom, boom, boom, knock at the door.
There's Bruce Springsteen standing there with a paper sack that you would buy your groceries and put 'em in, you know, and, uh, within that he had some t-shirts and some flannel shirts and some jeans and that was this whole wardrobe.
[music playing] So we started moving around the house and-- and finding little niches where we could take photographs.
Up in my bedroom, there was a little alcove where there was a window and this wallpaper, you know, with the flowers on it, cabbage roses I think they're called.
He gave me his best troubled look.
That was the cover for "Darkness on the Edge of Town."
[music playing] Each photographer and each artist bring a unique dynamic to the shoot.
Frank, himself, is a working class guy from New Jersey, and so Bruce would've been sympathetic to Frank because he saw the kind of guy Frank was.
He's a regular guy.
That's what allowed Frank to capture these photos of Bruce there where he almost looks like, uh, Pacino, you know, this incredible personification of what-- of who Bruce was and who Bruce was becoming.
All I was doing was looking at the young man that was in front of my lens and shooting exactly what I saw.
He knew what he wanted to give me.
So the guy in those pictures, the guy that happened to emerge out of that photo session was the characters-- plural, the characters-- that he was writing about in the album "Darkness on the Edge of Town."
I supplied him with a pile of contact sheets from the Darkness photo session.
I get a call at 2:00 in the morning.
Hey, Frank, I got those pictures.
They're really great.
I got them all over the floor here.
Jimmy and I are looking at them, and, uh, it looks like you got the cover for "The River."
The reason he felt that these characters in "The River" were more or less a sequel or a continuation of the characters in "Darkness on the Edge of Town."
I remember being very broke and going to dinner with a bunch of folks from Interscope Records, and they were complaining because the artists that they were working with wanted something that looked like the cover of "Introducing."
And so they had flown somebody from London to LA to make these photos.
And I'm sitting there, broke, going, um, I guess I need to do a better job of self-promotion.
If they don't know that it's me and if they don't know that they're at dinner with me, I don't have a job this week, and I'm not getting that job.
There's definitely something wrong.
When American Express did their, like, what's the 50 best album covers of all time, that was the one they used.
It would come up on your timeline as an ad or whatever.
It was the cover of "Introducing."
It's the photo that you would expect to see on the inside or on the back except it's on the front and there's no type.
It was the first time that I really understood the kind of anti-iconic moment, actually, because that's precisely what it is.
Part of the genius of Mo' Wax in those days was that they didn't believe in music videos.
They believed in packaging.
We'll spend the extra money to get the double or triple vinyl with the inside sleeves and all the extra bits and bobs because that's point of purchase.
And so it was, like, afforded this sort of grand treatment, but then it was this completely ordinary photograph for the most part of a bunch of fellas looking at records in a record store.
[music playing] There is nothing quite like holding a piece of vinyl in your hands with your photograph edge to edge, full bleed on the front or on the back or even on the inside.
Between a-- about '76 and probably '96 is pretty much the golden age of album covers because that's when they meant everything.
Everybody was buying albums, going into HMV, going into Tower Records.
I mean, I used to go into record stores even when I was designing records and just look through.
That's a beautiful cover.
I'll get it.
The record was probably crap, but the cover was beautiful.
- Well, it had achieved its aim.
- Yeah, exactly.
HENRY DILTZ: But a lot of musicians these days are insisting on having some vinyl put out because they like that big picture.
We're all used to that.
JOHN KOSH: I am nostalgic for the 12-inch square.
It's coming back, fortunately.
Now and again, the-- there's some artists, they're coming along saying, you know, I'd like that analog sound.
I want vinyl.
And I want you to do a 12-inch square.
And I'm like-- I'm in heaven, you know.
SEASICK STEVE: There's lots of people I've never met that I feel like I've stared at their picture so much on the record cover, I feel like I got some relationship with them, you know, especially when the music has gone into you and dug a groove through you.
It's, like, burnt into you.
It's a scar but a beautiful scar inside of you, y'all.
You got to feel like you did know them.
You've got to feel like you had some relationship through these pictures I feel.
[theme music playing]