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See An Online Gallery of Famous Album Cover Inspirations

Have you ever wondered who Jay Z was emulating on the cover of The Blueprint? How about the names of the happy couple on the cover of Tom WaitsRain Dogs? Or where that old, creepy watermill on the front of Black Sabbath’s self-titled LP is located?

When it comes to albums, the music may be the main attraction, but the artwork serves a larger purpose than just catching eyes on iTunes and in record stores. Musicians may spend months seeking out a perfect visual motif to represent their music (Kanye’s blank jewel-case for the stripped-down Yeezus comes to mind), or they may take the opportunity to collaborate with an artist in creating a cover that stands alone as a work of art (like Andy Warhol’s celebrated The Velvet Underground and Nico). Album artwork becomes part of the full story of the record, but much of the artwork on the cover of records has a story all it’s own.

Enter Art of Album Covers; a Tumblr blog, by a 20-year-old music enthusiast named Tevin, that tracks down and catalogues the origins of famous album designs. The blog is truly absorbing, showing high resolution images of each familiar album directly below it’s pre-manipulation inspiration, as well as the names of original pieces, artists, photographers, models, locations, and even interesting factoids, when available (Did you know Vampire Weekend’s latest cover was from the smoggiest day in NYC’s history?). See some of our favorite albums and inspirations below, and visit the blog’s archive for the full list!

[Source: Pigeons & Planes]



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  1. Robert says:

    I loved the Queen one. I especially loved that it had a second part on the inner-fold-out.

  2. Three Toes of fury says:

    AHHH!    That Queen album was part of my cousins record collection when i was a kid.  It was the source of untold nightmares for me for most of my childhood.  To this day i get the chills whenever i see it.    F@#$ing terrifying.    Dig it!!

    Thanks for the sweet article and head s up. 
    (Thanks too to David Stein for the additional info).

    Peace .n. Nightmares…


  3. David Stein says:

    the Queen piece, and the original, we’re both by artist Kelly Freas.  Kelly was famed for his science fiction and fantasy work and as one of the major cover artists for MAD magazine.  Queen contacted Kelly about using the classic cover art and Kelly said he was available to reprint it for them.  He met with the band, sketched them, and produced the final piece and an original interior piece.