Milton Glaser’s Stylish Album Covers for The Band, Nina Simone, John Cage & Many More

Mil­ton Glaser hard­ly needs an intro­duc­tion. But if the name some­how doesn’t ring a bell, “Glaser’s many con­tri­bu­tions to pop cul­ture,” as Ayun Hal­l­i­day writes in a pre­vi­ous post, cer­tain­ly will. These include “the  I ❤NY logo, the psy­che­del­ic por­trait of a rain­bow-haired Bob Dylan, DC Comics’ clas­sic bul­let logo.” All images that “con­fer unde­ni­able author­i­ty.” Many chil­dren of the six­ties also know Glaser well for his album cov­ers.

Glaser designed the album art for The Band’s clas­sic Music from Pink, though he stepped back from the cov­er and used one of Bob Dylan’s paint­ings instead. He designed cov­ers for clas­sics like Peter, Paul & Mary’s The Best Of: (Ten) Years Togeth­er and Light­nin’ Hop­kins’ Light­nin’! Vol­umes One and Two.

“Glaser had a long his­to­ry with record labels,” writes design­er Rea­gan Ray. “Accord­ing to Discogs, he was cred­it­ed with the design of 255 albums over the course of 60 years. His rela­tion­ship with record label exec­u­tive Kevin Eggers led him to explore a vari­ety of cov­ers for the Pop­py and Toma­to record labels, includ­ing the career of Townes Van Zandt.”

Glaser illus­trat­ed rock, folk, blues, jazz…. “Clas­si­cal album cov­ers nev­er get much atten­tion in graph­ic design his­to­ry,” Ray points out. But “his col­or­ful paint­ings were inter­est­ing and unique in an oth­er­wise stuffy genre.” He even illus­trat­ed an album by Al Caiola’s Mag­ic Gui­tars called Music for Space Squir­rels, what­ev­er that is. Did he lis­ten to all of these albums? Who knows? Glaser left us in June, but not before dis­pens­ing “Ten Rules for Work and Life” that set the bar high for aspir­ing artists.

One of his rules: “Style is not to be trust­ed. Style change is usu­al­ly linked to eco­nom­ic fac­tors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when peo­ple see too much of the same thing too often.” If any­one would know, it was Glaser. “His work is every­where,” writes Ray, “and his lega­cy is vast.” He also had a very rec­og­niz­able style. See a much larg­er selec­tion of Glaser’s album cov­ers, curat­ed by Ray from over 200 albums, here. And vis­it an online col­lec­tion of Glaser’s oth­er graph­ic design work at the School of Visu­al Arts.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mil­ton Glaser (RIP) Presents 10 Rules for Life & Work: Wis­dom from the Cel­e­brat­ed Design­er

Art Record Cov­ers: A Book of Over 500 Album Cov­ers Cre­at­ed by Famous Visu­al Artists

Enter the Cov­er Art Archive: A Mas­sive Col­lec­tion of 800,000 Album Cov­ers from the 1950s through 2018

The Icon­ic Album Cov­ers of Hipg­no­sis: Meet “The Bea­t­les of Album Cov­er Art” Who Cre­at­ed Unfor­get­table Designs for Pink Floyd, Led Zep­pelin, Peter Gabriel & Many More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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