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My Personal Salute To Vintage Art Found In Album Covers

Updated on September 23, 2011

Do You Remember These . . .

Art comes in unlimited forms. Paintings, sculpture, song, poetry and even the design of album covers. Okay, let's talk about bit about album covers. Album covers were the things in the 1960's, well, the 'turbulent sixties,' that were designed by noted artists of that day to not only create album covers that befit the artist, but to capture the attention of the vinyl record-buying public, while giving you a piece of tuneful history, but album covers you could proudly display in your bedroom, frat room, and later, your office when you went to work after graduating college.

Here are but a handful of the many fine examples of sixties artwork defined. Captured. On album covers such as these.

Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

a collection or cross section of the group's best songs. "Somebody to Love," is included on this album which was designed by group member, Marty Balin, who wrote or co-wrote many of the Airplane's many hits in the sixties that lived on today in many stations in our country who feature classic rock formats.

Cream - Disraeli Gears

was one of this supergroup's best works. Cream was composed of Jack Bruce, bass; Ginger Baker, drums and a young guitar genius, Eric Clapton. "Disraeli Gears" spotlighted Cream's number one hit, "Sunshine of Your Love," as well as "Mother's Lament," that showed the versatility of Cream's members. The album cover was designed by Martin Sharp, a noted artist who originated from England. Even in 2011, this album cover still stands as one of the most-memorable album covers of all time.

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland

is still rated high among sixties rock collectibles. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi Hendrix, guitar; Mitch Mitchell, drums and Noel Redding, bass, recorded this double-album set in their own studios, Electric Lady Studios. This double-album gave many accolades to Karl Ferris to helped with the album design as he did in designing another Hendrix album, "Are You Experienced?" where he used a novel idea of 'fisheye' imagery to give the group photo on the front a wider look. Hendrix fans still talk about the extended live version of "Voodoo Chile'" that featured Jimi and the Experience, plus Steve Winwood, organ, Jack Cassidy (of Jefferson Airplane) on bass and more special guests in the studio when this song was cut.

Led Zeppelin II

followed, naturally, Led Zeppelin "I," the black and white album cover that featured the terrible crash in New Jersey in the 1940's of the Hindenberg zeppelin that made it's maiden voyage and last voyage from Germany to the United States. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, co-wrote many of Zeppelin's 'monster hits,' such as: "Whole Lotta Love," "Heart Breaker," and more. The album cover was designed by David Juniper, an unconventional artist who meshed the original photo of the Hindenburg going down in flames with Led Zeppelin's group members.

Santana - Santana

featured a compex blend of artwork that was in fact, images within images that you could only see upon closer and careful inspection of the album cover that was skillfully-designed by Lee Conklin, who specialized in early forms of psychedelic art forms to enhance the artists who chose him to design their album covers. Santana - Santana featured the hit song, "Evil Ways," was released as a single and soon sold over a million copies. Santana fans loved the first-glance of this album cover that looked like a fierce male lion about to attack the person viewed the album cover.

Canned Heat - Then and Now

provided Canned Heat fans with a sudden burst of colors with this album design by Bob Masse, who loved to deal with the vintage and almost-faded forms of artwork in his designs. Notice the words how they are also in the famous psychedelic style that made the sixties an era of magical art, music and memories that we, who lived this era, will not forget any time soon.

Iron Butterfly - In A Gadda Da Vida

still stands as the premiere rock album that was always played at parties quiet and wild in the sixties. Iron Butterfly founder and organist, Doug Ingle's cathedral-style of organ tones are evident in the Butterfly's songs especially the extended, "In A Gadda Da Vida," which features drummer, Ron Bushy's solo that amazes the listener when they hear his superb drumming and his stamina. This song covers one side of the Iron Butterfly's mega-hit album. You will see the strobe lights in the background used where this photo of the Iron Butterfly was in concert. Strobe lights were 'the' special psychedelic effect chosen for many famous bands of the sixties. I am unsure who took this famous photo of the Iron Butterfly, but I am convinced that it helped to sell several million albums.

Grateful Dead '95

this album for one of San Francisco's most-famous rock group, The Grateful Dead, was designed by Alton Kelley, who kept the Dead's iconic use of a skeleton to seal their image even in 1995. Jerry Garcia, guitarist and founder of The Grateful Dead, loved to use skeletons in the album designs for the group. The Grateful Dead's albums sold by the millions. Their concerts were sell-out's. And more money was raked in by the Grateful Dead posters that featured their friend, the skeleton. Some rock music researchers speculate on whether the skeleton was used simply because of Garcia's captivation for the skeleton, or the skeleton was used to symbolize 'death' in it's final form.

Grateful Dead - Skeletons and Roses

features the lovely red roses surrounding the icon skeleton used as the logo for The Grateful Dead. In this case, the poster, Skeletons and Roses, probably sold as many copies to the 'dead heads,' fans of the Grateful Dead as the album. Even today in 2011, classic rock stations all across the country still include the late Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead in their program logs.

The Allman Brothers Band Tour Art

was skilled by master artist, Bob Weir who used, to convey touring, moving and evolving as a band, a locomotive that was so strategically-placed, front and center, of the poster art, that no Allman Brothers fan could resist whipping out his American Express or Visa card to purchase this Allman Brothers slice of memorabilia to add to their treasured collection of Allman Brothers Band collectibles.

Billy Joel - The Stranger

still rates high in today's classic pop collections who are well-guarded by Billy Joel fans. Joel, a master writer, producer, and performer had a virtual endless string of hits in his peak time as a performer. Memorable songs such as: "Piano Man," "Lunatic," "Don't Ask Me Why," "I'm Movin' Out," and the all-time personal favorite of mine, "She's Always a Woman to Me," have secured Billy Joel not only in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but inside my heart and untold numbers of hearts of his legions of fans. This photo, which was considered art, was produced by Jim Haugton, who told Joel's emotional state at the time this album was released. See the female mask. It represents the empty relationships that Joel had endured on his way to stardom and his dark bedroom that represented a time in his early life that he once thought that all of his talent and songs were in vain.

Name Your Favorite Album Cover

Which Album Cover Holds Your Attention The Longest?

See results

Thank you, dear readers . . .

for humoring me with this nostalgic journey back into a time where music was loud. Teenagers were loud as they tried to find their pathway to certain individuality, and our country was in the process of its own evolution brought about by changes which are not always easy to see nor easy to hear.

I do hope that this story has sparked in just one reader, a special memory that you have tucked away for safe-keeping and now now you have this overwhelming urge to shuck that three-piece suit for a pair of tie-dyed jeans, t-shirt, sandles and a real Kenwood stereo with those towering speakers blaring out Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," or another vinyl memory that you have in your own treasured and well-guarded record collection.


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest Coolmon,

      Thank YOU kindly for your sweet, generous comments. Thats one reason why I bought albums - - -for the cover! Cream's Disreali Gears for one. Loved that. And Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's "Deja Vu," set in old fahioned western sets. Great!

      Thanks too, for your votes. Hey, visit with me anytime and all you want to. I appreciate that!!!


    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      9 years ago from Texas, USA

      There is no substitute for the album art of years past. Part of the reason I purchased albums back in the 70's and 80's was for the cover art. No Cassette, CD or MP3 can touch that. Good article rated up and I like your selection of albums too.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      12/5 at 9:22 p.m/cst

      Hi, beth and a Huge THANK YOU from My Heart for This LOVELY and WARM Comment. I appreciate you taking time to write this and for your visit. I like the B. Sabbath album cover for Paranoid, which I forgot. Thank you for the reminder and who can forget Dark Side of The Moon, by P. Floyd??? How, right now, I wish I had included those in this hub. Thank you, beth for the heads-up.

    • beth811 profile image

      Beth Arch 

      9 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

      How I love the music of the 60's! Your hub brings back the memories. I also like all the album covers you have posted here. How about the Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd album covers? Sometimes, I'd make the album covers of Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd as my avatar in Facebook and other social networking sites.

      Awesome! Voted up!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Clover! You are very WELCOME! I mean it. And get this: I DO remember the sixties as I wasn't lulled into the LSD, Bayer Aspirin or other dangerous drugs in this era. I wanted to live long enough to have a story to tell. Looks like Ive done that. Thanks, SINCERELY, Clover, I do appreciate YOU and the comments--in that order.

    • Cloverleaf profile image


      9 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Kenneth, a great tribute to the sixties! Thanks for sharing this, it was good fun.

      Voting up!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear, dear Katharealla, THANK YOU SO MUCH, but by doing parts 2, 3, 4 and so on, I might run the risk of boring people, and I couldn't live with that, but THANK YOU for the vote of encouragement. Peace.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Dear Sueswan, THANK YOU DEAR FRIEND, for your lovely comment that literally made my night and I am a huge Joel fanatic, not fan! "You May Be Right," IS My life theme song. Love it. Thanks again. Peace.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Kenneth,

      I enjoyed your interpretation of these album covers. You saved the best for the last in my opinion.

      I had Billy Joel's album, The Stranger. Joel is the ultimate song writer. One of my favourites from the album is "A scene from an Italian Restaurant."

      Voted up and awesome.

    • Katharella profile image


      9 years ago from Lost in America

      Great hub! You could go on and on! Pt 2-3-4 :) I grew up with these. I ended up getting box set LZ cd's but still have my box of vinyls!!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Jean, THANK YOU for your lovely comment. I sincerly appreciate you and your input. I love to travel back in time when I can and when I can get the fuel. Sometimes the past holds my interest more than the "now." Jerry and The Dead...what a group!

    • somethgblue profile image


      9 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Kenneth, first of all we definitely have similar interest. The cover that holds my interest the most is The Stranger by Billy Joel. If you go to my hub page, Why Do I Agitate People?, there is an Illustration there dedicated to the album art of the 70's. I'm wondering if you can guess what band it is dedicated to?

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Paradise7, THANKS SO VERY MUCH for the nice comment. LZ was one of my all-time fave's and the first time I heard Whole Lotta Love, it was love at first speaker for me to become a huge LZ fan. Thanks so much. Sincerely.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Really liked this one--boy, it took me back. I think everyone I knew had that Led Zeppelin album! (Don't guess how old I that makes me, okay?)

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Rosemay, "THANK YOU, so MUCH. This makes my day and the research worth it. Factually, I am not in this hub thing for the personal glory, not at all, just want to feel useful and make SOMEONE ELSE's day a little funnier maybe, or give some food for thought. I think I shall rest good tonight. THANKS!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      9 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A fabulous hub Kenneth and yes so many memories.

      I had a work collegue who ONLY pruchased albums for their covers, he would give the vinyls away but treasured his covers. We have a large collection and we still play them too. something special about putting a vinyl on the player rather than just pushing a CD into a box.

      Great hum my friend, you write so well and always make even the mundane things sound interesting.


    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      9 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Kenneth,

      Thanks for helping me remember some of my favorite albums. Since music changed so much, my son grew up loving all classic rock, so even when the music is blasting in his room, it's all stuff that makes me feel like I'm back in time! The Tarot book I'm self publishing has my fave card on the cover, The Hermit. I never realized until I showed friends the proof, it's like the cover of The Song Remains The Same in a way! Ah, Grateful Dead, I don't know why, the other day I listened to American Beauty, and it made me cry! Memories, I guess. Great hub!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Cheeky Girl..."I am in your debt for all of the really sweet and nice comments you have made over the short time I have been on hubs. YOU make it worthwhile to sit at my PC five days a week--burning Google with artwork questions,etc. Finding just the right mode and rhythym of the hub I am doing and then taking a deep breath and hope it all turns out okay. Like all of your hubs do. Thanks so kindly.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Emma, "from the heart, THANKS a LOT for YOUR lovely remark. I WAS around in this time and it was fun, exciting and also a bit scary for as soon as a group hit it big, they broke up...we were frantically-searching most of our time, finding albums that we could hold onto. I am grateful for YOU and YOUR comments."

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Lucky! "Sincerely, THANK YOU, SO MUCH, for this lovely, amazing comment and your votes! I am always humbled at YOUR thoughts, Luckycats. And I appreciate YOU, new friend, talented writer that you are, for being on hubs. I always feel good when I read your comments." Thanks so much.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      9 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      What an awesome tribute to not only great music albums, but their under-appreciated covers and cover creators. They seldom get the credit they deserve - till now. :)

      (Voted up and pressed almost all the buttons here!)

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 

      9 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Oh wow, you have blown me away with a fantastic hub. Although I wasn't around in the 60's, I love the music, and these album covers are great. Now we all download our music, but you can't beat holding an original copy in your hands. Great stuff - vote up.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      9 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Fabulous! Two thumbs UP!! Your writing is amazing, Kenneth...and so unabashadly honest and real. I truly love reading your allow us into the world which is that of Kenneth Avery...fastenating! YES! UP Awesome Useful Interesting and Beautiful!!!!! (with a taste of funny, too)


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