Longtime Pink Floyd sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson died yesterday at age 69.
Along with Aubrey Powell, he co-founded design team Hipgnosis in 1967, and went on to became one of history’s most prolific designers of album covers.
Working for some of the best-known recording artists — Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Wings, Black Sabbath, 10cc, Alan Parsons, Al Stewart and countless others — he and his team have been responsible for some of the most lasting images in the iconography of rock and roll, including the sleeve for Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (1973).
During his career he likely created more than 300 sleeves. “I don’t really keep count,” he told Rolling Stone in 2011. “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.”
A childhood friend of members of Floyd, Thorgerson’s first sleeve for the band was its second album: A Saucerful of Secrets (1968). He would go on to design and photograph many others for the group, including Atom Heart Mother (1970), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988).
His work also included covers for Floyd’s David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright.
Thorgerson died peacefully surrounded by friends and family, who released a statement saying, “He had been ill for some time with cancer though he had made a remarkable recovery from his stroke in 2003. He is survived by his mother Vanji, his son Bill, his wife Barbie Antonis and her two children, Adam and Georgia.”
Thorgerson met Floyd’s Gilmour when the two were in their teens. He served as best man at Gilmour’s wedding to Polly Samson.
“He has been a constant force in my life, both at work and in private, a shoulder to cry on and a great friend,” Gilmour said in a statement.
“The artworks that he created for Pink Floyd from 1968 to the present day have been an inseparable part of our work.”
Thorgerson was the first of only four guests we’ve welcomed to the “Floydian Slip” radio show in the program’s 20 years. In 1997 we spoke to him via phone from his London studio, following the release of “Mind of Matter: The Images of Pink Floyd.”
Cordial if not a little clownish, his first concern seemed to be for our well-being, considering the trans-Atlantic time difference that required the interview be conduct at 7:30 a.m. our time. “Are you awake?” he asked. “Are you on the ball? Are you focused?” he demanded with a rapid-fire British clip.
You can read the transcript of that interview at floydianslip.com.
Thorgerson’s work for Floyd has been enjoying a renewed appreciation with new variations he created for the Why Pink Floyd? reissue series. His reinterpretations of the “Dark Side” prism for the album’s 40th anniversary last month have been shared widely across the web.