Storm Thorgerson was cantankerous, couldn’t draw and wasn’t a great photographer. But his album artwork for Pink Floyd, described yesterday as “revolutionary”, has become part of our cultural wallpaper.
Thorgerson, who died on Thursday aged 69, was a friend of Pink Floyd band members from their earliest days in Cambridge, designing the cover to their first album, A Saucerful of Secrets, in 1968. He went on to design all their album covers, most notably Dark Side of the Moon, in 1973, and also worked with Led Zeppelin and Peter Gabriel. More recently he worked well into the 21 century with Muse, Biffy Clyro and the Cranberries.
Richard Evans, art director for The Who for almost 40 years and author of the The Art of the Album Cover, worked with Thorgerson and his partner Aubrey Powell in the mid-1970s. He said yesterday that Thorgerson was influenced by the surrealist artists Dali and Magritte and put ‘art’ into the album cover.
“Album art work really took off with Peter Blake’s Sergeant Pepper in 1967,” he said. “But Storm revolutionised it and his influence is still felt. He wouldn’t put the name of the band on the album. If you didn’t know who they were then you shouldn’t be buying it. That was unheard of at the time when albums were the face of the artist and the name at the top so it would stand out when people browsed in record shops.
“He was a great ideas man,” Evans added. “He couldn’t draw for toffee, he couldn’t do art work. And he was cantankerous which irritated a lot of people in the music industry. But he came up with these great ideas. He made the album cover a work of art rather than a marketing tool. He was enormously influential.
“He did everything for real, even in the age of Photoshop. So there were actually 700 beds on beach for A Momentary Lapse of Reason. And they had to do it twice because the tide came in. It was pure Dali. It was revolutionary and nothing like anything else that was happening.”