Album art designer Storm Thorgerson dies
April 19th, 2013
12:44 PM ET

Album art designer Storm Thorgerson dies

British graphic designer Storm Thorgerson, who created some of music's most iconic album artwork for rock bands such as Pink Floyd, has died at the age of 69.

In a statement posted to the website of Pink Floyd vocalist and guitarist David Gilmour, Thorgerson's family said he died Thursday afternoon.

"His ending was peaceful and he was surrounded by family and friends," the statement said. "He had been ill for some time with cancer though he had made a remarkable recovery from his stroke in 2003. He was in his 70th year."

According to the BBC, Thorgerson launched his career with the UK design group Hipgnosis in the late '60s and soon established himself as a designer to watch, thanks to his distinctive aesthetic.

He applied his creativity to album covers for a number of rock acts, including Led Zeppelin and Muse, but his work with Pink Floyd is among his most memorable. The artwork of the businessman on fire on "Wish You Were Here," the pig flying over Battersea Power Station on "Animals" and the prism emitting a rainbow of light for "Dark Side of the Moon" are all his handiwork.

Gilmour recalled in a statement that he met Thorgerson as a teen, when they "would gather at Sheep's Green, a spot by the river in Cambridge. ... Storm would always be there holding forth, making the most noise, bursting with ideas and enthusiasm. Nothing has ever really changed."

Thorgerson, Gilmour continued, "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."

According to Rolling Stone, the graphic designer initially wanted to be a filmmaker as he came of age in Cambridge but around the age of 15 changed his ambition to art.

In an interview with Cool Hunting in 2011, Thorgerson estimated that he'd designed about 300 album covers.

"I don't really keep count," he said. "I'm privileged to work with music, so I'm happy to work. ... As long as I can keep working, and paying the rent as they call it over in England, then I'm relatively happy."

According to the statement from his family, Thorgerson is survived by his mother, Vanji; his son, Bill; his wife, Barbie Antonis; and her two children.

Filed under: Celebrities • Music

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Seth

    Thanks for this wondeful post. i just wish many could read this for them to be inform.

    October 8, 2013 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Moody and Does Not Think I'm experienced?

    he's so ded.

    April 30, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. boob movie tomorrow...

    yep its time

    April 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Forestkaat

    When vinyl was king, album art was so important. Remember the fantastic art for Yes albums by Roger & Martyn Dean? There are so many covers that come to mind (some simple, some outrageous):: Beatles/Abby Road, Fleetwood Mac/Rumours, Meatloaf/Bat Out of Hell, Herb Albert/Whipped Cream & Other Delights (trust me), Yes/Keys to Ascension, Led Zeppelin/Houses of the Holy, Jimi Hendrix/Are You Experienced, Moody Blues/Days of Future Past, ELO/El Dorado, Asia/Asia, just to name a few.

    April 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Like...Michael ain't there right?


    April 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Poet

    for storm.....

    April 26, 2013 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. Motored In Man


    April 22, 2013 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Meh

    Your visions are legendary

    April 22, 2013 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. How is the decorative basket business going...


    April 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jane Hoeeeeeeeeeeeee

    rip dear..

    April 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sherri

    The album covers used to be half the fun. You'd buy the album and then study the cover. Many were works of art and frame able. Now, they're little bitty things on CD's and who cares? Remember all the uproar over The White Album?

    April 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Quite true. Now the covers are just an afterthought.

      With the proliferation of digital music downloads, they may become virtually extinct.

      April 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TimothyLeary

    I remember many a night, when feeling "strange" looking mesmerized at his album cover art. I knew who he was then and I wish we still had that art form being created. It's hard to be impressed by the art on a CD cover.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Weasley

    The album's cover art and the music were at time inseparable. Having grown up with rock on vinyl, the process of listening to music did not always begin with the music, but frequently with the cover art. I would thumb through my record collection until a cover caught my eye. Then after the cleaning ritual I would place the needle, sit back with the cover in my lap, and ponder the artwork as I listened to the music. Sadly, I did not recognize the artist behind the art, until now. Thanks Storm, you opened my eyes.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ToldUSo

    I have the Dark Side prism as a tattoo for the music. Never thought about the artists behind all the great album covers, tho. There should be a spot in the Rock Hall of Fame for this man.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |

      i as thinking of doing the same thing!.I think that i might still might do it, eventually!Don't fee,l alone!..rick

      April 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2 Jobs...

      get a move on

      April 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bob1god

    Gotta luv the Pink.

    April 20, 2013 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  16. tango

    All Pink Floyd work are masterpieces, from composing, to recording, mixing, preparing the album (RIP) and playing them live (sounding even better than the recording version). Why is it that there are no more bands like this one.

    April 20, 2013 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • The music of our generation was the greatest blah, blah, blah...

      Perhaps it's because they don't want to bore the sh!t out of their audiences.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Maritaz


    April 20, 2013 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  18. james

    those albums got me through my first divorce with the peace it deserved. thanks, still have them.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  19. Chewy

    The Great Gig in the Sky

    April 20, 2013 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  20. Byrd

    See you on the darkside of the moon....

    April 20, 2013 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  21. P. Floyd

    Shine on, you crazy diamond.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |

      I had Shine On You Crazy Diamond stuck in my head all day from out of nowhere, but didn't hear of his death until now. Just, wow. 0_o

      April 20, 2013 at 4:40 am | Report abuse |
  22. steve

    Rest in peace .you gave me so much peace looking at your artwork while listening to Floyd

    April 20, 2013 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  23. V¡xen

    R.I.P. Mr.Thorgerson.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  24. Boisepoet

    All pigs to be flown at half-staff...

    April 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  25. brad1001

    How funny, seeds in a double album jacket. There was a good amount of synth in the Dark Side. Alan Parsons, of later "I Robot" fame helped engineer that masterpiece in the Beatle's Abbey Road studio. I'ma go check my album collection for some shake.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Skeem Germinister
    April 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Thomas

    Dark Side's prism is without a doubt the most recognizable album cover of all time, moreso than The White Album, Sgt. Pepper's, Thriller or Nevermind. Mr. Thorgerson has definitely left his mark on modern culture. Rest in peace, sir.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Skeem Germinister,d.dmQ&psig=AFQjCNGYPq47SI8A2mnQuVi7HTArZ5fi5Q&ust=1366502008264757

    April 19, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Matt

    How I Wish You Were will be missed.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Tom

    A huge talent. And a huge loss.

    April 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  31. colonelingus

    I feel very fortunate that I grew up in an era where music was made by people with genuine talent, who didn't have to rely on computers, etc. in order to make they're "music" barely listenable. Are you listening Justin Beiber and ilk? The so called music of today by people of minimal talent could never in their wildest dreams ever create anything near as comparable as Sgt. Pepper, Quadrophenia, Dark side of the moon as an example. The young people of today really have no idea.

    April 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • chon

      Actually Pink Floyd was one of the first bands to use synthesizers, and although most of the people whom do the vocals on current pop music get almost all the credit, computers are not fabricating melodies, there are dozens of people involved with every snare, buzz, beat and sound you hear, and their work is truly amazing. and i LOVE pink floyd.

      April 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjacja

      What killed the music was not computers but VIDEO. Today few people even really listen it's what the person does and looks like. In the past all one had was the audio track and what the music sounded like mattered.

      April 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Walrus Was All


      Music Videos have been around since the mid-1960s, but back then they were called Promotional Films.

      The difference is that pre-MTV, promotional films were produced for songs already written/recorded, and this process maintained the integrity of the music. Post-MTV, songs were often written/recorded for a specific music video concept. By giving the visual experience priority, the music integrity greatly suffered in many instances.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse Pinkman

      There are tons of great bands out there playing great music today. Serious talented musicians. You just don't hear about them as much as you did back in the 60's and 70's. They don't play these bands on the radio and they are not in the mainstream media. You have to look for them. The bands of "today" that are amazing musicians equalling what was out in the 60's through the 80's are: Porcupine Tree, Dredg, Circa Survive, Rival Sons, Coheed and Cambria, Mutemath, Animals as Leaders, Steven Wilson, Telescreen, Minus The Bear, Codeseven, Ours, Muse, My Morning jacket, Joe Bonamassa, and I could keep going and going. Fight the Justin Bieber type fabricated music by supporting these great bands I have listed above. You can thank me later....

      April 20, 2013 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      There was just as much c r a p popular music in the 60s and 70s as today.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeA

      That's what our parents said about Pink Floyd, Led Zep, Hendrix, etc. Production and distribution are much more accessible now, so there's probably more crap out there than there used to be, but there's still quality. You just have to open your eyes, ears, and heart to find it.

      RIP, Storm. You made this world a little bit cooler place to hang out.

      April 20, 2013 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • peacemonger

      typical uninformed, old folks opinion about today's music. There's some great music being made if you're willing to seek it out. You won't hear it on the radio like 40 years ago.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  32. mandy

    rock on.

    April 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Dawn Kiebals

    It's not like you're ever going to open up a CD case and find seeds in it. Good times...

    April 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  34. OutlawReligion

    album covers were sweet. as a child i really liked the vinyl, and was always disappointed with casette's covers. they were too small. and cd's at first were ok (when they were double tall and wasted a lot of paper), but i haven't bought a physical record with artwork in almost 20 years now.

    not only do they not make album covers like pink floyd anymore.

    they don't make music like that either.

    i'm gonna go listen to accidental racist and kill myself.

    April 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Zoglet

    RIP great artist, brought things of great beauty into many peoples lives.

    April 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  36. crm041066

    Shine on you crazy diamond! Great works of art that will be forever remembered!

    April 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  37. ElmerFudd

    and rock on in the heavens for I soon will be there {;o )

    April 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Boo

    Great stuff! Too bad vinyl is going more of this great artwork

    April 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • VirtualInsanity

      Heard a great story yesterday on NPR that the younger generation is "re-discovering" vinyl again in part for the artwork of the album covers. So much so that this Saturday is actually designated "Record Store Day". Check out the site at record store day dot com.

      April 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |

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