Album Art – King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King

When it first appeared in record shop windows it created a storm of interest with many awed shoppers buying the album on the strength of the cover alone.

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.

Described by The Who’s Pete Townshend as ‘an uncanny masterpiece’, King Crimson’s debut was released in October 1969 becoming an instant chart hit on both sides of the Atlantic – not bad for a band who only got together less than ten months earlier.

Needing a cover for “In The Court of the Crimson King” Peter Sinfield played some of the tracks for a former co-worker at English Electric Computers (later ICL) Barry Godber, the only artist he knew who produced two startling paintings. Using watercolors, Godber gazed into a shaving mirror and constructed one of the most fearful self-portraits ever to grace a record sleeve.

Very few LP covers convey the dramatic impact of the music they contain but Barry Godber’s ‘Schizoid Man,’ as it was dubbed by members of King Crimson, did just that. When it first appeared in record shop windows it created a storm of interest with many awed shoppers buying the album on the strength of the cover alone.

Barry was born in the U.K. and worked as a computer programmer, but he was always an artist having studied at the Chelsea School of Art with the likes of now-famous painters such as … Duggie Fields[1].

The front is the schizoid man and the inside is the Crimson King with his jolly smile and very sad eyes. The raw emotion portrayed in the front cover and the way that the face is almost bursting out of the frame of the cover attracted many people to the album even if they hadn’t heard a single note of it. This was the only album cover Godber painted. He had already designed the “King Crimson Is…” poster printed on reflective foil paper which had been fly posted around London in April 1969 when almost nobody had heard of the group. Barry died of a heart attack, in 1970, at the age of 24. The original painting is now owned by Robert Fripp.

We all stood around it around it and it was like something out of Treasure Island where your all standing round a box of jewels and treasure…this fucking face screamed up at us from the floor, and what it said to us was ‘Schizoid Man’- the very track we’d all been working on. It was as if there was something magic going on.

Greg Lake – told to Classic Rock Magazine December 2009

  1. Douglas Arthur Peter Field (August 6, 1945 – March 7, 2021), known as Duggie Fields, was a British artist who resided in Earls Court, London. As a student, Fields’ work progressed through minimal, conceptual, and constructivist phases to a more hard-edged post-Pop figuration. His main influences were at that time Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, and comic books, with special regard for those worked on by Stan Lee. [Back]

Further Reading


Fantasy Art and Sci-fi Art
Classic Record Sleeves
Design is Fine – History is Mine
Peter Sinfield
DGM Live

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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