LONDON – English graphic designer Storm Thorgerson, whose eye-popping album art for Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin encapsulated the spirit of 1970s psychedelia, died Thursday. He was 69.
In a statement, Thorgerson’s family said that his death “was peaceful and he was surrounded by family and friends.” The statement gave few further details but said that the artist, who suffered a stroke in 2003, had been ill for some time.
Even those who not familiar with Thorgerson’s name will have seen his work gracing vinyl collections and CD racks. He was best known for his surreal Pink Floyd covers, which guitarist David Gilmour said had long been “an inseparable part of our work.”
Some of Thorgerson’s covers – the disturbing image of burning man in a business suit featured on Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” or the stark prism on the band’s “Dark Side of the Moon” – have become icons in their own right.
Thorgerson also made covers for Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Phish, Styx, and Muse. His art tended toward the unsettling or the bizarre. One particularly weird CD front for The Cranberries’ “Bury The Hatchet” featured a monstrous, disembodied eye staring at a crouching, naked figure in a desert.
Another Pink Floyd album cover – which Thorgerson said had left the record company “completely berserk” – featured nothing more than a picture of a cow staring out from a field.
Thorgerson described his work as a kind of fantasy job – in both senses of the word.
“People pay me for my thoughts and my dreams,” Thorgerson told the BBC in 2010. “I think in that sense I’m very fortunate.”
Thorgerson is survived by his mother Vanji, his son Bill, his wife Barbie Antonis, and her two children Adam and Georgia.