Famous First Drafts: Rejected First Versions Of 15 Iconic Album Covers

by (@JordanRuntagh)

Alternate Covers Of Famous Albums

Some of the most enduring images in pop culture have come straight off of famous record sleeves, becoming almost as important as the songs contained within. It sounds silly, but it’s actually a little upsetting to imagine zillion-selling, generation-defining records looking different! Obviously it shouldn’t matter, the music stays the same. But thinking of Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon without the prism, or Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction without the skulls, or the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper without the crowd…it bums us out, man! It’s freaky to know how close we came to having totally different images grace the covers of these famous works. Either censorship reared its ugly head, or the band simply changed their mind, but some of these iconic shots were not the first choice. Head down below and see some early alternate versions of super famous album covers that we know and love.

15. Yesterday and Today by the Beatles (1966)

The clash between artists and record labels over the control of album art can be traced to the height of Beatlemania, when the Fab Four insisted on putting out this charming little number, known ever after as “the Butcher Cover”.


It was allegedly their comment on war, a satirical take on pop art, or their protest against Capitol Records “butchering” their records by cutting several songs from each album in order to stretch a few extra discs out of the band. It depends on who you ask. The cover actually went out into stores briefly, but the outcry led to a new cover being pasted over the baby meat.


[Photo: Capitol Records]

Word went around, and for a brief time it became a fad to steam the record sleeve and try to peel off the new “trunk” cover, revealing the original banned photo underneath. If you ever find one, hold onto it for dear life. They’re now a SERIOUS collector’s item. This became  the most famous example of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s alternate cover-art, but there was much more alternate-reality weirdness to come.


14. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles (1967)

[Photo: EMI]

[Photo: EMI]

The Beatles groundbreaking Sgt Pepper‘s album was a major leap forward for record production and quality, and the cover designed by fine artist Peter Blake has gone on to become one of the most recognizable (not to mention parodied) images of the 20th century. But the same probably wouldn’t be true with their first choice of cover art…

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 7.11.53 AM

Yup, this Dr. Seuss-like psychedelic landscape designed by the Dutch art collective The Fool was by far and away the Beatles’ first choice. It was to be a wrap-around cover, with a portrait of the band  in the white oval and album title in the rectangle. In the end they were talked out of the image by their friend, famed London art dealer Robert Fraser, who dismissed the work as “not good art.” And that’s not the last time they nearly went with a pretty whack cover…

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