With a name like Storm Elvin Thorgerson, one would have to be destined for greatness. On April 18th, the man who put album art into its own music category, lost his battle with cancer. He was 69.
Thorgerson was born in Potter’s Bar, Middlesex, England in 1944, graduated with honors from the University of Leicester and earned a Master of Arts degree from the Royal College of Art. But, it was his mother’s close relationship with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters’ mom and his school years as a youth with Waters and co-founder Syd Barrett that would launch him into the public eye and into history. He created over 300 album covers for progressive brands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Scorpions, Genesis, the Cranberries and Phish.
Arguably, the Dark Side of the Moon album cover is his most famous and talked about work. In 2011, he spoke with Rolling Stone about it:
“I think the triangle, which is a symbol of thought and ambition, was very much a subject of Roger’s lyrics. So the triangle was a very a useful – as we know, obviously – was a very useful icon to deploy and making it into the prism – you know, the prism belonged to the Floyd.”
It wasn’t Thorgerson’s first choice. He originally drafted an image of Marvel Comic’s “Silver Surfer” character to use on the cover, which he hoped to photograph.
“It wouldn’t be the Silver Surfer, it would be a man on a surfboard. I was more interested in the wave, actually. I was interested in a tiered wave, because I thought it was a very good representation of the Floyd and the fans, he told the Rolling Stone
If you haven’t seen other Thorgerson covers, you’ll be pleasantly enamored and left secretly wondering about what inspired him. The following is part of a tribute to Thorgerson and his work being showcased by the Guardian.
“This picture of a sheep on a psychoanalytic couch was designed as a poster insert for 10cc’s 1980 album, Look Here. The band asked for ‘something different’. I never really have a clear idea of what that expression means … I thought it was more engaging to ask a question and between us we came up with ‘are you normal?’ Anyway, the question led to the idea of normality and what could be more normal than a sheep, all of whom tend to follow each other. But to be normal you’d need a lengthy dose of psychotherapy.”
Alan Parsons – Try Anything Once (1993)
“The title suggested something a touch reckless, perhaps, or at least a departure from normal behaviour. We joined this thought with the image of a bungie jump from a high bridge on television – wondering what on earth people would do for a thrill.”
It’s definitely worth taking in the entire collection at the Guardian.