Album Art – The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request

Freezing red deserts turn to dark. Energy here in every part. It’s so very lonely

This is where I’ll be talking about the Album Art that I like. That is one of the benefits of 12″ vinyl albums, the cool packaging that surrounded the record. Here I’ll research the creations that we all loved as children, teenagers, and adults. I’ll try to find as much information on the artists as I can.

The Rolling Stones‘ “Their Satanic Majesties Request” was a tangle of psychedelic sounds and influences, complete with iconic 3D artwork. It was released on December 8, 1967, and reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 2 in the US. The man behind the camera was Michael Cooper, who had also shot the cover of The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band earlier that year.

The title was a satirical take on the words inside a British passport: “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary Of State requests and requires…” One proposed cover was a photograph of Jagger naked on a cross, which was scrapped by the record company for being “in bad taste”.

Another idea for the cover had been an “Octagon” shape. The album had been tentatively titled “Cosmic Christmas” and the song, by the same name, was recorded and included on the acetate for the octagonal sleeve.

Another test print for the album slick was a black and white cover that would have received the lenticular 3D photo, glued to the center. The writing in the center is a message that states “this is where color 3-d Pix go …” Still another cover idea was to not do a 3D photo, but just to have the word “Stones” in the center in a psychedelic textured fabric.

It would have had an inner bag with red and white wisps and said “Their Satanic Majesties Request – The Rolling Stones”. It would have included the inside sleeve material as the actual release had.

Yeah, fine, you can do whatever you want, but you’re going to have to build the set, and you’re gonna have to go out and buy the clothing. And basically, the Stones, along with Michael, put this album cover together themselves.

Allen Klein and ABKCO (when the Stones pitched the cover idea)

The Stones, along with Michael, would create this album cover together. Amongst the flowers, is the four faces of the Beatles as a reciprocation for the Stones’ mention on the cover of their album. Traveling to New York on September 12, they started prepping and producing on September 13 and 14, and they shot the session on the 14th, probably through to the early hours of the 15th.

We made that set ourselves. We went to New York, put ourselves in the hands of this Japanese bloke with the only camera in the world that could do the 3D. Bits of paint and saws, bits of Styrofoam.

Keith Richards

The group spent a couple of days on the floor gluing and piecing the background together. After choosing the wardrobe the photograph was taken on the third day. 3d cameras were rare, so New York was one of the only places for the lenticular[1] image to be created.

It was originally intended for the lenticular image to take up the entire front cover but that proved to be costly so a smaller image was printed and glued to a blue and white wisps cover. The back cover was a painting by Tony Meeuwissen[2] depicting the four elements (Earth, Water, Fire, and Air).

The inside has a maze, that cannot be completed, created by Michael Cooper, the British photographer who is remembered for his photographs of leading rock musicians of the 1960s and early 1970s, most notably the many photos he took of The Rolling Stones from 1963 to 1973.

The inner-cover collage has dozens of images, all taken from reproductions of old master paintings (Ingres, Poussin, da Vinci, among others), Indian mandalas and portraits, astronomy (including a large image of the planet Saturn), flowers, world maps, and more. Without a doubt, no Rolling Stones album – and, indeed, very few rock albums from any era – split critical opinion as much as the Rolling Stones’ psychedelic outing.

  1. Lenticular printing is a technology in which lenticular lenses (a technology also used for 3D displays) are used to produce printed images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as they are viewed from different angles. Examples include flip and animation effects such as winking eyes and modern advertising graphics whose messages change depending on the viewing angle. [Back]
  2. Tony Meeuwissen was born in 1938. He has designed postage stamps for The Royal Mail, covers for the Radio Times, and illustrated feature articles for the London Sunday Times Magazine. Tony is not just the only illustrator ever to win the D&AD Black pencil award, he’s won it twice! A collection of Tony’s work is in The Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2013 Tony was awarded the title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ by the RSA. Only 200 designers can hold the title at any one time. Other royal designers include Vivienne Westwood, Peter Blake, Quentin Blake, and Gerald Scarfe. [Back]


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Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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