In the 1960s, rock ‘n’ roll was overtaken gradually by pop-rock, psychedelic rock, beat, folk-rock, and as well as blues-rock, which had grown in fame. It was a time when excitement ran rife in the music scene. The songs produced during these times has expressive, lyrical tunes, and hip turning pieces. It is also a time when social issues were broached courageously.
Together with the albums released in the 60s are wonderful album covers. The cover art of albums in this decade are as colorful as the music they are representing. If you want to see how some of these album covers look like, then you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to show you some of the iconic 60s album covers.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
In the 60s, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles was the most expensive album cover that has ever been made. It still remains as a pop art masterwork, which has influenced many other designs, including The Yellow Album by The Simpsons, and Frank Zappa’s We’re Only in It for the Money.
This album features 58 different people, which were chosen by Paul McCartney, Peter Blake, John Lennon, George Harrison, Jann Haworth, and as well as Robert Fraser, who’s a London art dealer. This cover art represented a charming cross-section of cultures, importance, and as well as individual interests of each member of the Beatles.
The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground’s debut album titled The Velvet Underground & Nico is probably the most famous example of pop art in the United States. It is designed by Andy Warhol. It features a banana which actually has a “Peel Slowly and See” banana peel that is a sticker. When you peel it, it will reveal the phallic fruit beneath. This is a typically cynical move from Warhol, but the joke was on anyone who removes the sticker. It is also what made it an iconic album cover in the 60s.
The Story of Simon Simopath – Nirvana
This is the debut album of the British psychedelic band, Nirvana, which was released in 1967. It includes songs that trace the story from life to death of the so-called hero, Simon Simopath. The cover of this album clearly depicts his story. It shows an illustration of Simon flying like a hero, with his white hair looking like wings. And based on the songs in this album, Simon is a boy who dreams of having wings. The cover art of this album has a lot of stories to tell, just like the music it contains.
Idea – Bee Gees
Idea is Bee Gees’ 4th album, and it was released in 1968. This album sold more than one million copies worldwide. This album has two cover art versions. One is the Polydor release that features a lightbulb with a group photo on its base, which was designed by Wolfgang Heilemann. But this North American ATCO release is more iconic. It was designed by Klaus Voorman. It features a composite head made from each band member of Bee Gees. This album includes the singles “I Started a Joke” and “I’ve Got a Message to You”.
Anthem of the Sun – Grateful Dead
The Anthem of the Sun is the 2nd album of Grateful Dead, and it was released in 1968. This album is an experimental amalgam that is neither a live album or a studio album. But it is considered more as a studio album. The cover art of this album is very colorful. It resembles a mandala which incorporates the similarities of the band members’ heads. At the back, it features a fisheye group shot of the band which was taken by Thomas Weir.
Axis: Bold as Love – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Axis: Bold as Love is the 2nd studio album of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was released in the United Kingdom in 1967, and in the United States in 1968. This album also has an iconic cover. However, Jimi Hendrix expressed dismay on it, because for him, it’s more appropriate if it had highlighted his American Indian heritage.
The cover of this album features a painting of the band by Roger Law, then the painted image of the Experience was superimposed on top of a copy of a mass-produced religious poster. This cover art has made Hindus express anger, with the appropriation of the god Vishnu on the cover. This artwork was banned in Malaysia to protect religious sensitivities following protests.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn – Pink Floyd
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is Pink Floyd’s debut studio album. This album was named based on chapter 7 of the book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The cover of this album features a kaleidoscopic photo of the band, which was captured by Vic Singh.
Since the band was new during that time, they do not have any art director yet. Therefore, they are the ones who brainstormed the cover art for the album themselves. With only a small production budget, Vic Singh used the prism lens from George Harrison to create the special effect that is seen on the cover art of this album. This helped them save a lot of money because color labs for special effects during that time were very expensive.
Power Plant – The Golden Dawn
Power Plant was an album released by The Golden Dawn in 1966 before they broke up in 1968. It features a simple but iconic album cover art with pink and yellow flowers that looks like an abstract as well. The release of this album in 1966 was suspended by International artists, until after the Easter Everywhere album by the 13th Floor Elevator was released. Even though the Power Plant album was recorded a year earlier, it was tagged as a copy cat record when it was released.
With this, George Kinney remained a loner figure in the music worlds in the following decades until the Golden Dawn reemerged in 2001 when this album, Power Plant, became an iconic psychedelic legend on the international stage.
Wake Up … It’s Tomorrow – Strawberry Alarm Clock
Wake Up … It’s Tomorrow is Strawberry Alarm Clock’s 2nd album, which was released in 1968. This album came during the time that they were challenged with continuing the success of their debut single “Incense and Peppermints”. The cover art of this album features an old man beside a colorful scenery. It was designed by the in-house art department at UNI Records. It also has a photo of an alarm clock at the back cover, which was taken by Gene Brownell.
The band didn’t actually like the cover art of this album because, for them, it’s better if their images from their first album were used and made them look animated. But even though they do not like it, it is still one of the most iconic album covers in the 60s.
Odessey & Oracle – The Zombies
Odessey & Oracle is The Zombies’ 2nd studio album that was released in 1968. On its release, it was received indifferently but has since become one of the most celebrated albums of the 60s. Part of the legend of this album is its cover, which is a painting done by Terry Quirk, the Zombie bassist’s friend. The album cover looks classic and gorgeous, but there’s a noticeable mistake on the spelling of Odyssey, which is spelled as “Odessey”.
During its release in the 60s, the Zombies maintained that the misspelling was intentional. But as years passed, they eventually admitted that it was a mistake they caught by the time the album cover had gone to print. But it is still an iconic cover that is psychedelic.
These are some of the most iconic album covers in the 60s. It’s true that iconic album covers do not just define the music and songs each one of them contains, but they also define an era, a generation, and as well as an entire musical genre. These iconic album covers that we shared definitely all have the appearance of 60s psychedelia for the “peace and love” crowd.