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RIP Storm Thorgerson, Album Artist For Pink Floyd & Led Zeppelin
April 19, 2013
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Storm_Thorgersen.jpg

Pink Floyd's David Gilmour called his album covers, "an inseparable part of our work".

Stark, unsettling images were the trademark of English graphic artist Storm Thorgerson, who has died.

Born in Middlesex, England, Thorgerson went to the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys with Pink Floyd founding members Syd Barrett and Roger Waters, with whom he became friends.

After forming the art design group 'Hipgnosis', Thorgerson went on to design every Floyd album cover starting in 1968 - 16 covers in all including the iconic dark prism cover for 'Dark Side Of The Moon', as well as 'Animals' and the disturbing 'Wish You Were Here'.

For the latter, he photographed two businessmen in grey suits shaking hands - one of whom was on fire, an image meant to symbolize a faceless Floyd salesman and an "empty suit".

The flames actually shot up and scorched the mustache of the stuntman.

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In his book, The Work Of Hipgnosis: Walk Away Rene, Thorgersen said "It struck me... that 'getting burned' is a phrase used in and about the music business for not getting paid, or for not making a profit from some risky but colourful adventure."

Thorgersen took artistic risks as well.

For the Floyd album 'Animals', he floated a giant inflatable pig over the Battersea Power Station - a bleak, shut down, coal-fired power plant on the bank of the River Thames, in South West London.

Pink Floyd_Animals.jpg

Initially, the band objected to the idea, saying the image of a flying pig would be too "Monty Pythonesque".

And the cover shoot was quite an adventure, as the 40-foot pig zeppelin broke loose from its moorings and floated away, causing a minor media sensation ("flying pig interrupts international flight pattern!")

On the subject of zeppelins, Thorgerson was also known for his work for Led Zeppelin's 'Houses Of The Holy' album, which was inspired by a novel by Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote '2001: A Space Odyssey'). It featured a collage of children scaling some rocks.

Along the way, he worked with a who's who of rock artists, including Peter Gabriel (below), Black Sabbath, Genesis, Muse, Audioslave, The Cult and Megadeth.

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Described in The Telegraph as a "modern day Dali, Magritte and Man Ray all wrapped into one", Thorgerson admitted he "had no idea what he was doing" when Pink Floyd first hired him to do their artwork.

Floyd drummer Nick Mason said Thorgerson was a man of "great ideas and high, sometimes infuriatingly high, standards" and a "tireless worker right up to the end".

On his website, David Gilmour wrote "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."

Storm Thorgerson had been ill for some time with cancer. He was 69.

via Toronto Star

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