ON APRIL 18, THE WORLD OF MUSIC AND VISUAL ARTS LOST ONE OF ITS GREATEST TREASURES. THE MAN WHO WILL FOREVER BE KNOWN AS ONE OF THE BIGGEST GRAPHIC DESIGNERS IN THE HISTORY OF ROCK MUSIC – THE LEGEND, STORM THORGERSON.
When you don’t know how to start this kind of tribute, it’s better to let others speak. After Thorgerson’s passing, his friend David Gilmour released the following statement: “He has been a constant force in my life, both at work and in private, a shoulder to cry on and a great friend. The artworks that he created for Pink Floyd from 1968 to the present day have been an inseparable part of our work. I will miss him.”
Indeed, Storm’s work was almost as vital to Pink Floyd’s success, as the creativity of the band members. Born in 1944 in Cambridge, Thorgerson was a school friend of both Syd Barrett and Roger Waters, and a teenage friend of David Gilmour. No wonder it was Pink Floyd who gave young Storm and another Floyd gang member, Aubrey “Po” Powell, a chance to show their talent in graphic designs. Their psychedelic cover for the band’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, started a long-lasting professional relationship and was only the second example (after The Beatles) when EMI let a band hire an outside artist to create the cover. Numerous other artworks followed, including probably the most known and greatest album cover of all times, the prism on Dark Side of the Moon, as well as equally known designs for Atom Heart Mother and Animals.
The Hipgnosis duo specialized in surreal cover art that had often nothing to do with the musical content of the albums. But Pink Floyd was definitely not the only high-profile band that used the services of Thorgerson or both Hipgnosis partners. Other famous projects include Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, Wishbone Ash’s Argus, Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy or Scorpions’ Animal Magnetism, and of course that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In more recent times, Storm also worked with younger bands, providing his artwork for the likes of Audioslave, Biffy Clyro, The Cranberries, Dream Theater, The Mars Volta, Muse and Rival Sons. When asked about Storm in an interview we did in December last year, Rival Sons’ Jay Buchanan said: “I think that every rock n’ roll band would like to have at least one record with Storm Thorgerson’s cover.”
In the times when MP3’s take over the whole music business and CDs or vinyl records are said by some to be old-fashioned and in decline, let’s not forget that the beauty of a music album lies not only in the sounds recorded, but also in amazing graphic designs. That’s something you won’t get buying single MP3s on iTunes.
We could write many words praising Storm Thorgerson, but let his art speak for itself. What you see on these pages is our own selection of Storm’s work. Just a small gallery, but a big part of rock and metal history.