Hipgnosis' Life in 15 Album Covers: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and More

Upon release of new book 'Vinyl . Album . Cover . Art,' studio co-founder Aubrey "Po" Powell unpacks striking images created for Wings, AC/DC and more

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Black Sabbath, 'Technical Ecstasy' (1976)
Robots Design: G. Hardie Robots Illustration: R Manning Graphics Design: G. Hardie © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd9/15

Black Sabbath, 'Technical Ecstasy' (1976)

We had the title, and I remember sitting around with Storm and George Hardie, talking about it. This was before artificial intelligence, so we were thinking, "'Technical ecstasy' – what is technical? Well, robots, and what's better than two robots falling love?" So we came up with two robots passing on an escalator and they're falling in love. What's interesting about it is that it's part-photographic in the background, and part-illustration by George Hardie.

I remember going to meet Black Sabbath which was always an interesting experience. They could be quite vocal; let's put it that way. When I presented the idea, they absolutely loved it. It moved away from what you'd normally associate with Black Sabbath, which is black guitars, dark lyrics, heavy rock, themes of devil worship, and blood and daggers. It was a picture of a love story. I was pleased. Then Ozzy came over.

We were at Tony Iommi's house in the studio, and Ozzy comes in late after the other guys have already chosen. The door flung open and there was this guy, dark glasses, as you see Ozzy, all in black with a hat on, absolutely drunk as a skunk. He walked over and said, "What's going on here?" "We're choosing the album cover, Ozzy." And you could feel the tension in the room. It was really unpleasant, and he just looked down and said, "That one. That's the one," and I think Tony Iommi said, 'That's just as well, because that's the one we've all chosen" in that great Birmingham accent. And Ozzy suddenly turned on him and completely flipped. They started fighting. I was by the manager and I'll never forget when he said to me, "I think that went rather well, don't you?" I said, "What do you mean? It was mayhem and chaos in there. It was horrible." And he said, "Well, we got an album cover out of it." It was so rock & roll in a way. It was fantastic.

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