Sleeves by famous artists

When sleeves were first illustrated, designs were cheaper, but photos joined them soon, then it became a hallmark for many classical labels to use existing paintings. That is a “found” category rsather than a commissioned category.

Roger Dean (Yes, Asia et al) would be a separate category on his own and there are whole books of his stuff. Also, he is known first as a sleeve designer. It’s his day job. Similarly Bob Cato another great sleeve designer, mainly did sleeves. This is about illustration, not design.

Pablo Picasso

The Lonely Bull: Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. Stateside EP, UK, 1962

Is this found and adapted, or was it commissioned?

Norman Rockwell

Rockwell has been used, taking existing work, but this one was commissioned. The Live Adventures of Bloomfield & Kooper.

The Live Adventures of Bloomfield & Kooper: Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper, 1969 LP, Columbia USA
The Live Adventures of Bloomfield & Kooper: Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper, 1969 LP, CBS, UK

The British division, CBS, had the temerity to overprint on Rockwell’s work and the colour comes up differently.

Richard Hess

A renowned American illustrator, not normally known for LP sleeves, but this appears to illustrate The Rite of Spring and it’s square, so probably a special job (unless you know otherwise …) The record was released as an SACD in 2021 and they put crap lettering all over the image.

The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky: Leonard Bernstein / LSO LP CBS UK 1973 (US Columbia 1972)

Robert Crumb

Robert Crumb became known for illustrating underground comics in the 1960s, such as Zap Comix which he illustrated entirely. His creations include Fritz The Cat, Mr Natural and the Keep On Truckin’ strip.

The LP sleeve that pulled him into LP sleeve work was Cheap Thrills by Big Brother & The Holding Company, one of the dozen framed albums that adorn my walls.

Cheap Thrills: Big Brother & The Holding Company, Columbia / CBS LP 1967

His love has always been authentic folk / folk-blues and he’s done around twenty sleeves, including some for his own records and his own blues compilations. First up was Earl Hooker in 1972, done for the specialst British label, Red Lightning..

There’s A Fungus Among Us: Earl Hooker LP Red Lightnin’ UK 1972

Also in 1972, he designed the sleeve for Good ToneRecords, and they released it as a 78 rpm 10″ record. R. Crumb is the singer on this track.

Good Tone Records: 10″ 78 rpm 1973

Please Warm My Weiner: Old Time Hokum Blues. Yazoo 1973
Rompin’ Stompin’ Ragtime: Dave Jasen, Blue Goose 1974
R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders: Blue Goose Records 1976
The Music Never Stopped: The Roots of The Grateful Dead: Tribute album, 1995
Chimpn’ The Blues, compilation LP 2013 East River Records

Gilbert Shelton

The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers writer and artist. He dd two notable ones.

Doug Sahm & Band, Atlantic LP 1973 (illustration signed and dated1972)
The Grateful Dead: Shakedown Street 1978 Arista
Good Lovin’ The Grateful Dead, Arista 45, 1978
“The Invisible Pimp” also on the rear sleeve of Shakedown Street

Shelton spent 1980-1981 in Barcelona, producing a marvellous LP sleeve for Gato Perez (Spain only).

Prohibido Maltratar a los Gatos: Gato Perez, LP, Spain 1982

Shelton also does his own compilations:

CD compilation, EMI, 1999

Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser was the guy who designed the I Love NY logo. His many 50s jazz and classical LP covers are iconic. In 1963 he came up with this dsign for Black Moonlight &Sunshine, a trad jazz LP by Monty Sunshine. The style pre-dates mid-60s English styles. He was highly influential. He designed hundreds of album covers including Music From Big Pink and There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, but apart from design, he illustrated and nearly always signed his own illustrations.His style is strong, distinctive and much copied.

Black Moonlight & Sunshine: Monty Sunshine, His Clarinet & His Band, London LP, UK 1963
The Sound of New Orleans, Columbia LP 1964
The Sound Of Harlem: Columbia Jazz Archive LP 1964
The Baroque Inevitable, Columbia LP 1966
1966: all the Columbia classical ‘Greatest Hits’ series feature his illustrations
Blues Roots compilation 1969, Poppy / RCA

Alan Aldridge

Alan Aldridge was head of design at Penguin books, producing some of their most iconic book covers in the late 60s, as well as being the author of The Penguin Book of Comics. The Who’s A Quick One comes at the same time as his book covers.

Aldridge was also a designer, but this only covers his illustration (he designed Family Entertainment by Family, and Goodbye Cream among others).

A Quick One: The Who, Reaction LP

Under The Jasmin Tree: Modern Jazz Quartet, Apple 1968

One of the rare Apple albums by other artists.

Under The Jasmin Tree: Modern Jazz Quartet 1968, Apple LP

Groovin’ With Mr Bloe 1970

He did Elton John’s Captain Fatastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy in 1975, wqith a total concept including centre label and inserts.

Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy

The Butterfly Ball, 1975

It accompanied a book.

Everybody Loves A Happy Ending: Tears For Fears, 2004

Everybody Loves A Happy Ending: Tears For Fears 2004

Ronald Searle

Maybe this should be with the “Cartoonists” section (LINKED) as it looks very much like theGoon Show Classics series. However, Ronald Searle was a famous author / illustrator in his own right, most famed for St Trinians and Molesworth as well as a cartoonist.

This is from an odd 1975 album, Dick Deadeye which is rocked-up Gilbert & Sullivan. The performers include Long John Baldry, Linda Lewis, Victor Spinetti (A Hard Day’s Night), Ian Samwell, Barry Cryer and Miriam Karlin.

Gerald Scarfe

Scarfe is the best-known. That would be because of his work for Pink Floyd, extending to concert props. They first used him in 1974, when the programme for their tour in the UK and US, was designed as a comic with a centre spread showing the band.

One of his earliest was on the back sleeve of Love Me, Love My Friends by Paul Jones in 1967:

Shouts Across The Street

In 1976 he did the sleeve for Alan Price’s Shouts Across The Street, including his distinctive hand-lettering on the reverse:

Alan Price: Shouts Across The Street, Polydor UK LP, 1976

I would expect the Scarfe sleeve to uplift the secondhand value of the album considerably (I paid £3.50) but though there are speculative £200 mint copies out there, most seem to settle around £20 which is about normal for a sought-after artist’s lesser known albums, It doesn’t even get into Rare Record Guide’s list. It has his trademark ‘whole concept’ down to handwritten credits.

He did a music video for Welcome To The Machine and projected clips for their 1977 In The Flesh Tour.

The Wall project resulted in a myriad of posters, adverts, stage show material as well as the elaborate sleeve.

The Wall

Front cover: it’s the Scarfe lettering
track list


Scarfe did the whole, including hand lettered lyrics.

One of four lyric pages

centre labels gallery (click to enlarge)

and the posters … gallery

A classical departure in 1982:

Orpheus in The Underworld: English National Opera 1982

The Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking

The Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking: Roger Waters, Harvest LP 1984
rear sleeve. A less interesting rear than the front

Ralph Steadman

British cartoonist, best known internationally for his illustrations for Rolling Stone to accompany the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, such as Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail. He also did the spoiken voice album covers:

Like Gerald Scarfe and Alan Aldridge it was ‘design the lot’ including lettering. When we go back to 1967, he was doing a Who 7″ single picture sleeve that was never used in the UK or USA. The example is Norwegian. It looks like Polydor commissioned a base Who design that they could recycle.

He goes back a long way! This is NOT a complete selection either/

Funky: Gene Ammons All-Stars. LP Esquire 1959
Happy Jack: The Who, 1967 Polydor, Norway
Pictures of Lily: The Who, German single, Polydor

Streetnoise: Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity, 1969

Paul Brett: Phoenix Future 1975

Spoken voice series … Charisma, gallery 1983

Peter Arlott Talks Cricket
Peter O’Sullivan Talks Turf

Ambrosia: Road Island 1982

Juvenile Delinquent: Alexis Korner, 1984

Alexis Korner: Juvenile Delinquent LP 1984 Charisma
Beirut: SAlexis Korner, Charisma LP 1984

Closed on Account of Rabies: Edgar Allen Poe

Closed On Account of Rabies: Spoken word, Edgar Allen Poe, CD design 1997

Have I Offended Someone? Frank Zappa

Have I Offended Someone? Frank Zappa Rykodisc CD 1997
XPLOD: Disturb the Peace, Sony CD compilation 2000

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent & Depraved … Hunter S. Thompson spoken word 2012, gallery

Huncho Jack: Jack Huncho 2017

Huncho Jack: Jack Huncho 2017

Paul Sample

The Pheasant Pluckers Song: The Barrow Poets, 1980, from Radio 4, not TV RESL 86
My favourite BBC sleeve design

The Pheasant Plucker’s Song is from a 1980 Radio Four broadcast. The uncredited sleeve illustration is by Paul Sample (famous for his Tom Sharpe covers and cartoons, and he illustrated some of my text books). It expands the tongue twister as far as you can take it. (I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s son, and I’ll sit here plucking pheasants till the pheasant plucking’s done).  Paul Sample created the character Ogri in 1967, who appeared in Bike magazine.

Ogri by Paul Sample

The London Sessions series

A fine selection of late 60s / early 70s British artwork. I’d frame them if I could find frames to take the full gatefold.

They’re included because sleeve-design aa not their main work.

Sleeve illustration: Don Wilson
Sleeve illustration by Sanford Hoffman 1973
Sleeve illustration by Tim Lewis

1 thought on “Sleeves by famous artists

  1. Brilliant. Beautiful album covers.
    John Byrne (Patrick), one of Scotland’s leading artists, needs an article to himself.
    Really enjoyed this illustrated article, Peter. Many thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s