I thought I’d start with a personal favourite album. It’s a favourite because I first heard it when I was the impressionable age of 15, the album cover is phenomenal, it had great inserts both a lyrics book and a scraps booklet that made me feel a stronger connection to the artist and it is musically, in my opinion, one of the finest albums ever recorded.
Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy debuted at #1 on Billboard’s top 200 – the first album to debut at the number one spot. It was certified gold in the month of release and triple platinum in 1993.
It is an autobiographical concept album chronicling the early writing years of Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin. Elton John has reportedly stated that he feels it is his best album even.
I could go on about the music, but when I recently pulled out my copy, I wondered about who designed the album cover. A quick search brought the answer – Alan Aldridge.
Aldridge, a graphic designer, was born in 1943 in London England and currently resides in LA, California. While Aldridge had no formal art education, in the early to mid sixties he did freelance covers for Penguin Books and was eventually hired as Art Director for Penguin. His covers for Penguin are often cited as the reason for the revitalization of sales at Penguin. In 1968, he left Penguin to start his own design firm with its most famous clients – The Beetles and Apple Corp. Perhaps one of his most important pieces of work was the illustrations for “The Beetles Illustrated Lyrics” published in 1969. His airbrushed work of the sixties and seventies is seen as a major contribution to the psychedelic designs of those decades.
In addition to Captain Fantastic, Aldridge also designed the cover for The Who’s second album “A Quick One”, Cream “Goodbye”, and a rare Rolling Stones (and others) album “The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus”.
Aldrige is also famously known for his poster for Andy Warhol`s “Chelsea Girls” which, in addition to critical acclaim, landed him an arrest warrant for pornography.
And a logo we have all seen, The Hard Rock Cafe, is more of Aldrige’s work.