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Immortal Album Covers: The Story of Hipgnosis

Posted by James Duncan on

Album art helped define the arrival of new music during its heyday, which ran roughly from the later 60s to the 80s when vinyl albums ruled music sales worldwide. While smaller formats such as cassettes, CDs and later streaming imposed size and format limitations on artwork since then, the contributions of visual artists to herald the arrival of new music is still fondly remembered by many.

One of the most prolific groups of artists worked under the name Hipgnosis. The main partners behind Hipgnosis were Peter Christopherson, Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson. Freelance designers Richard Evans, George Hardie and Richard Manning were also associated with the group. Based in London, the group created cover art for dozens of artists over the years and had the honor creating some of the most memorable album covers of all time.

Consider, for instance, our cover image, which is the iconic cover of Led Zeppelin's 1969 debut album. The image of the Hindenburg ablaze was a play on the group's choice of a name. It is likely George Hardie's most famous work, although he was also the artist behind the perhaps equally iconic Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here album covers.

Among many other well-known covers created by Hipgnosis partners and associated artists are those for AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Bad Company Straight Shooter and Desolation Angels, Def Leppard High 'n' Dry, Led Zeppelin CODA, Houses Of The Holy, Presence and In Through The Out Door, Paul McCartney and Wings Venus and Mars and Wings At The Speed Of Sound, ELO II, Scorpions Animal Magnetism and Lovedrive, Styx Pieces Of Eight, Sweet Desolation Boulevard, The Alan Parsons Project Pyramid, and Yes Tormato. 

While not gone completely, album art as a feature of music releases has been relegated to very small formats today, making the period of 1965-1980 the "golden age" of this art form.

Don't forget to check out our album art and concert poster memorabilia here, which at time of article writing includes an original lithograph of Led Zeppelin's debut album artwork plate-signed by Hipgnosis artist George Hardie here

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