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5 Iconic Vinyl Covers

Explore some of the most iconic vinyl covers that are still recognised today.

Posted by Stef Cowie

From awesome and unique artwork to creative photographs, we look at some of the most famous vinyl covers. Let’s discover the intriguing stories behind our top 5 album sleeves.

#1 The Velvet Underground


Andy Warhol is often credited with producing the Velvet Underground’s debut LP in 1967, although the exact nature of his involvement in its creation has always been somewhat ambiguous. However, one undisputed aspect is his complete ownership of the album’s cover.

In earlier versions, his renowned banana print cover featured the words “peel slowly and see” and a peel-away banana sticker that revealed a pink banana underneath. Given the album’s drug-themed tracks like “Heroin” and “I’m Waiting For The Man,” some have interpreted the cover as a playful reference to the age-old rumour that smoking a banana peel can induce a hallucinogenic experience. Regardless of Warhol’s original intent, the cover remains one of his most celebrated artistic achievements.

#2 Pink Floyd


Ronnie Rondell and Danny Rogers, two talented Hollywood stuntmen, have an impressive list of credits, having worked on nearly 200 movies. Some of their notable projects include Speed, Titanic, Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys, and Waterworld. However, their claim to fame lies in a single photograph taken on the Warner Bros. backlot back in 1975. This photograph became the cover image for Wish You Were Here. In the picture, Rondell can be seen wearing a business suit over a flame retardant suit, while shaking hands with Rogers amidst the flames.

To ensure his safety, Rondell cleverly wore a wig over a hood to protect his head. Despite all the precautions taken, there was a brief moment during the shoot when the wind blew in the wrong direction, causing the flames to touch Rondell’s moustache. It’s fascinating to note that the Warner Bros. lot, where this iconic photo was captured, still retains its resemblance to that time even today.

#3 The Clash


In September of 1979, Pennie Smith managed to capture an incredibly iconic moment in rock history while photographing the Clash at New York’s Palladium. Paul Simonon, feeling frustrated by the unresponsive audience, took matters into his own hands and began smashing his bass against the floor. Simonon later explained that the audience was frozen in place due to the fixed seating at the Palladium, and no matter what the band did, they couldn’t elicit a response.

Despite being generally good-natured, Simonon admitted to bottling up his emotions until he reached a breaking point, which could be quite scary even for him. On that particular night, his frustration with the crowd led him to chop up the stage with his guitar. Joe Strummer, another member of the Clash, loved the photo that Smith captured, but she tried to convince him that it was too out of focus for the cover of their album, London Calling. However, her opinion was overruled, and the image of the smashed bass now holds a place of honour at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

#4 The Beatles


Beatles enthusiasts who firmly believed in the conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney had died in 1967 and was replaced by a look-alike had a field day analyzing the details on the Abbey Road album cover. According to some, the photo depicted a funeral procession.

They even noticed a license plate in the background with the letters “281f,” which they thought hinted at Paul’s age if he hadn’t died. However, none of these theories were intentional. The cover photo was taken on August 8th, 1969, outside Abbey Road Studios. Interestingly, this iconic image has attracted hordes of tourists over the years and has been playfully imitated numerous times – even by the Beatles themselves, as Paul did on the cover of his 1993 album, Paul Is Live.

#5 Bruce Springsteen


In June of 1975, Eric Meola captured the iconic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run. The photoshoot lasted only two and a half hours, starting at 10:00 a.m. Meola remembered how exhausted Springsteen and the E Street Band looked as if they had been up all night.

The photo was not only a representation of their energy but also made a statement about race. Recreating that same energy on film was a challenge, but they managed to do it. Fast forward to 2009, during the final show of their tour, Springsteen and Clarence Clemons recreated the pose from the cover of the song “Growin’ Up.” With Clemons recovering from a stroke, Meola’s photograph now holds even more significance.

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