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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Genesis, 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' (1974)
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A. Powell/ S. Thorgerson Graphics: G. Hardie NTA Retouching: R. Manning © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd5/15

Genesis, 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' (1974)

This was very much a radically different approach than the others, because I went to see Peter Gabriel, and Peter said, "OK, here's the lyrics. This is the story about Rael," the character in the album. "I want you to illustrate the story." Now we wouldn't take that from anybody but Peter Gabriel. We didn't like being dictated to.

But the story was so fascinating and so interesting and the music was so good, Storm and I went, "OK, let's go and work out a way to do it. But we're not going to do it as a comic strip," which is what Peter wanted. So we took the best bits of the story and just created vignettes for each part of the story. You have the guy breaking through the glass, or the symbolism of where he's unable to speak, where people have no mouths or he's being pulled into his own image. All of this was directly related to the lyrics.

Each vignette had to be done by hand, and we didn't have the advantage of Photoshop, so it took weeks to do that cover. But I'll always remember taking it down to Peter Gabriel and the band in the studio, and just putting it up on the wall, because the artwork was quite big. I remember them just going, "That's unbelievable. How did you do that?" It was a great compliment. 

We sold Peter the original artwork some years ago. Storm was ill with cancer and a stroke, and he needed money so we decided to sell off some of the artwork to the original artists, like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Peter to raise money to help storm out of his predicament, and they really were willing to be very generous about that too. And Peter was so moved, emotionally. He hadn't seen the original artwork for, I suppose, 25, 30 years. 

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