Storm Thorgerson, the British artist and graphic designer who created iconic album covers for such bands as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, and Phish, has died after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 69.
His work, both as an individual and as part of Hipgnosis, a design group he co-founded, was usually characterized by a striking image or concept — and was hugely influential in defining an LP cover as a canvas on which musical artists could make a statement. He created, by his own count, more than 300 albums over a career that lasted nearly five decades, but it’s his work with Pink Floyd for which he’ll likely be best remembered.
Thorgerson completed 15 albums for the band, from 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets to 2007’s Oh, By the Way. Several of them, including 1975’s Wish You Were Here (depicting a businessman aflame), 1977’s Animals (a pig floating serenely between the smokestacks of London’s Battersea power station), and 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon, are highwater marks in album-cover art.
Dark Side of the Moon‘s elegantly simple prism-and-rainbow design certainly belongs among the top 5 album covers of all time. (He told Rolling Stone in a 2011 interview that the Moon design came from a light show — and that an early version of the cover featured the comic-book character The Silver Surfer.) On the band’s website, Pink Floyd guitarist-vocalist David Gilmour remembered Thorgerson as “a constant force in my life, both at work and in private, a shoulder to cry on and a great friend.”