Friday, 26 April 2013

Storm Thorgerson 1943 - 2013

It is with sadness that I take up my metaphorical pen to write yet again about the passing of another music business personality.  Only this time the subject is not an international rock star nor even a little known fringe artist, but a designer; Storm Thorgerson, who died on 18 April of cancer, aged 69.

He, of course, will be best remembered for being the ‘fifth member’ of Pink Floyd who, through his design company Hipgnosis, created a series of unforgettable album sleeve designs through the 70s and 80s – the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ prism, the mournful cow of ‘Atom Heart Mother’, the Pig flying over Battersea power station of ‘Animals’ and the burning man of ‘Wish You Were Here’ being just a few of his creations that are welded to the Pink Floyd brand.

His unique style can also be seen on a whole host of sleeves from Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel and The Scorpions to Muse and Biffy Clyro and I can’t help but think that with his passing the final nail has been well and truly driven home into the coffin of the album sleeve.  Whilst the CD still held out as the premier conveyor of music, the sleeve, in its reduced form remained a fixture but with the increasing move towards download files and music streaming through the likes of Spotify, the requirement for an iconic sleeve design has all but gone.

Which is a shame.  I still have all my old albums, hundreds of them, stored in cupboards and whilst I only play them very occasionally, I shall never give them away because they represent a repository of Art.  These days I seem to spend more time taking out covers and just looking at them rather than playing the disc they contain.  In many respects, the covers hold more memories than the music - times and places, purchases and parading.  Let’s face it; you can’t walk around school exhibiting your immaculate musical taste with an MP3 file, now can you?

Many of my old albums now spend their declining years in frames on my wall, being rotated every now and again so that their beauty can be admired by all.  In remembrance of Storm Thorgerson, I think I shall have a small exhibition of Hipgnosis sleeves up for a week or two.  They are going to be these four:

'Sheet Music' - 10cc
Peter Gabriel II

'In Deep' - Argent

'Atom Heart Mother' - Pink Floyd


TAD said...

Martin: Storm also wrote most of the text for Hipgnosis's 1st portfolio of album cover art, WALK AWAY RENE. The stories in it are hilarious, & of course the photography is amazing -- it's one of my favorite rock-related books ever, well worth tracking down.
Nice write-up....

music obsessive said...

Hi TAD - Yes, I already have a copy of Hipgnosis's cover art as you describe and the invention is clear to see. A great loss.