The Stories Behind 10 Great Album Covers by Famous Artists

What makes great album cover art, or rather, who? These memorable record cover artworks were born from close collaboration, or plucked by the musician’s discerning eye from a visual artist’s body of work, or created through some combination of the two. We’ve rounded up ten covers — some of the most iconic and a few somewhat obscure — made by famous artists and photographers, along with some quick liner notes about how they came to be. What do flowers have to do with Power, Corruption & Lies? Peel slowly and see… what? We answer all those questions and more below.

The Velvet Underground — The Velvet Underground and Nico

Arguably one of the greatest albums ever recorded, the Velvet Underground’s 1967 debut — The Velvet Underground and Nico — was visually primed by their manager and image wrangler, Andy Warhol. Early copies of the record could be peeled “slowly” to reveal a suggestively pink flesh-toned banana. To manufacture the saucy covers entailed special machinery, extra costs, and the delay of the album release, but MGM figured ties to the Superstar Daddy would boost sales. That’s right — a crafty business scheme, an iconic piece of music history, a historic collaboration — all begat with a fruity dick joke.