Tony Lane, who was responsible for some of the most iconic images of the 1970s, died on New Years Day in Oakland, CA, from complications related to cancer. He was 71.
Born and raised in New York City, he attended the High School for Art and Design in Manhattan and the Philadelphia College of Art. Upon graduation, he was hired as assistant art director at Harper’s Bazaar, before moving on to become art director at Holiday magazine. Following he was hired by art directors Bob Cato and John Berg at Columbia Records as a designer, working alongside such design stalwarts Henrietta Condak and Paula Scher. There he created the iconic soft-focus cover to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bring Over Trouble Water” in 1970, one of the biggest-selling albums of the decade. Over the years he created album covers for such musically diverse artists as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, The Beach Boys, Toto, Kenny Loggins and Carly Simon. The later, “Boys In Trees,” featured an airbrushed photo of Simon wearing a Danskin top on what was originally a topless photo of Simon, won a Grammy for Best Album Package, an honor Lane shared with Johnny Lee, in 1978.
In 1974 Lane became the third art director at Rolling Stone Magazine, taking over from Mike Salisbury. Publisher Jann S. Wenner described Lane’s approach to its covers as “a sparer, poster-type look.” Often Lane worked with photographer Annie Leibovitz while at the same time employing myriad illustrators, Milton Glaser and Kim Whitesides among them. Lane hired Roger Black, who took over as art director the following year.
In 1975 he art directed and designed, along with author/filmmaker Kenneth Anger, Hollywood Babylon, one of the very first Hollywood exposé books, published by Straight Arrow Books. In a review in the The New York Times the critic said, “If a book such as this can be said to have charm, it lies in the fact that here is a book without one single redeeming merit.”
He went on to become executive vice president and creative director at Design Co., creating identities for such brands as LaCroix Sparkling Water, Pacific Telesis, and Wrangler and also as a freelancer designed logos for Global Pacific Records, HarperCollins Publishing and Kia.
On his passing, Roger Black noted, “They don’t let driven, obsessive geniuses like Tony Lane into publications any more… too hard to handle. And they wonder why the art form is declining.”