In the event that you (or your father, or your uncle) rolled a joint on an album cover in the 1970s, the chances were pretty decent that the cover was designed by Storm Thorgerson. Not just because he was one of the primary visual artists working on conceptual album covers in those days, but because his clients included Led Zeppelin, Genesis and, most famously, Pink Floyd–i.e., bands whose fans were known to indulge while they dropped the needle.
In fact, it was Pink Floyd’s website that announced Thorgerson’s passing on Friday at age 70.
In a statement, drummer Nick Mason called him, “Scourge of management, record companies and album sleeve printers; champion of bands, music, great ideas and high, sometimes infuriatingly high, standards. Defender of art over commerce at all times, and tireless worker right up to the end. … “Dear friend to all of us, our children, our wives (and the exes). Endlessly intellectual and questioning. Breathtakingly late for appointments and meetings, but once there invaluable for his ideas, humour, and friendship.”
A childhood friend of Floyd members Syd Barrett, David Gilmour and Roger Waters, Thorgerson and his design company Hipgnosis went on to create nearly every one of the band’s album covers over the course of 40 years.
“We first met in our early teens,” said Gilmour. “We would gather at Sheep’s Green, a spot by the river in Cambridge and Storm would always be there holding forth, making the most noise, bursting with ideas and enthusiasm. Nothing has ever really changed. … The artworks that he created for Pink Floyd from 1968 to the present day have been an inseparable part of our work.”
Thorgerson’s work was famous for its creativity and artistic vision, often utilizing totemic, inanimate objects dotting an otherwise bleak landscape. What is more, he often staged such scenes in order to take actual photographs of them. Witness his legendary inflatable pig floating over the Battersea Power Station in England for Floyd’s Animals cover, or the 700 beds he arranged on an English beach for the band’s 1987 Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Here’s a few more of his iconic covers: