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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Wings, 'Venus and Mars' (1975)
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Cover Design: P. & L. McCartney Cover Photography: L. McCartney with A. Powell © MPL Ltd7/15

Wings, 'Venus and Mars' (1975)

We'd done some work for the Beatles, and then after Paul did Red Rose Speedway, he came along to Band on the Run with us. Then he came up with Venus and Mars.

Storm and I flew to California to meet with him where he was recording. We had loads of ideas and, typical Paul, he said, "Great ideas. I love those, but you know I went to art school and I've got some great ideas too." He pulled out this piece of paper and said, "I see two snooker like this, red and yellow, Venus and Mars, and I want this shot on a bay's table, and that's what the front cover is going to be and then you put the rest of it together." Storm said, "I'm going home. There's nothing for me to do here. You deal with it." Paul was always slightly affronted with Storm. They didn't get along at all. And he said, "That's fine. You get out Storm and I'll just deal with him," meaning me.

So I stayed in California probably six weeks working with Paul and Linda. I got a billiard hall hall in L.A. I set the shot up, because Linda was wanting to photograph it. ... So she'd come in and take the shot. It was a concerted effort by both of us. 

But the interesting picture for me was the inside cover, which is this landscape way out between Lone Pine and Death Valley. There's this amazing talcum powder lake there and I said to Paul, "Listen, I found this incredible location." And he said to me, "Actually I've got another location. It's just outside of Palm Springs." So I drove to Palm Springs that night and met Paul, Linda and Wings in a Winnebago outside a hotel there. When I got there I opened the Winnebago door, and the place was absolutely trashed. I honestly thought there had been a Charles Manson situation. It completely freaked me out.

As I walked away from it, suddenly from the back of the Winnebago, where there was a private room, out jumps Paul who said, "Oh, man, I'm so pleased to see you." I said, "What's going on?" He said, "The other guys were all in that hotel that we're parked outside of. Me and Linda are in the back here. [Wings guitarist] Jimmy McCulloch got totally out of it last night and trashed the interior the thing. Let's drive back to L.A." I had just driven for eight hours across the desert to get there in a Mercedes sports car, and I said it's going to be cramped, so Paul and Linda said, "I don't care. Let's just drive straight back to L.A. We'll do this another day and do it properly." I said, "OK."

So we got in the car. We're going through Cathedral City, which is just outside of Palm Springs when a cop stops us. "You're speeding." I said, "I'm really sorry. We're very tired. It's a long story." And then he went, "Who's that in the back of the car? Is that John Lennon?" I said, "No, not exactly. It's actually Paul McCartney." So immediately our signature was required, an autograph and we were let off on our way. It was a great moment when he said, "Is that John Lennon?" I just thought, "Oh, here we go."

Anyway, about a week later, I said to Paul, "Listen, I have this amazing location. Trust me. Believe me. It's incredible." And he drove out the next day, and we stayed overnight in Lone Pine, in a little motel. Such fun. We had dinner together. It was great. We did that shot and then later on Paul sent out for some firewood and some steaks and stuff like that and we had a barbecue in the middle of the desert. That was a magical day. It was just one of those days where he wasn't Paul McCartney, the Beatle; he was just Paul and Linda and the kids. It was just family and it was beautiful and it was fantastic. I remember it so fondly doing that photograph. And we got the snooker balls in there. I've still got those deep in my archives.

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