THE YEAR: 1997
THE CONTROVERSY: In 1991, Aerosmith, one of the biggest bands at that time, signed a $30 million contract with Columbia Records — a kind of deal unheard of today, but normal in that crazy coke-fueled era. The band still owed Geffen a few more albums, so they didn’t get around to their Columbia projects for another six years. Nine Lives was recorded during a time of dissent and upheaval in the band and the album’s art certainly didn’t do much to relieve their stress: the original art, drawn by Stefan Sagmeister, was based on Hindu imagery and shows Krishna dancing atop a snake demon — with Krishna’s head replaced with one of a cat (you know, Nine Lives?).
WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS: The art offended some in the Hindu community and the band and label released a new cover that showed another cat-headed figure strapped to a circus knife-thrower’s wheel.SPECIAL: All-TIME 100 Albums