Controversial Album Art : 1970s

List of Controversial Album Art : 1970s

The following is a list of notable albums with Controversial Album Art 1970s (based on nudity and sexuality / religion / copyright / violence & others), especially where the controversy resulted in the album being banned, censored or sold in packaging other than the original one.


Alice Cooper – Love It to Death (1971)

Controversial Album Art 1970sThe original album cover featured Cooper posed with his thumb protruding so it appeared to be his penis; Warner Bros. soon replaced it with a censored version.


The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971)

Rolling Stone_Sticky FingersAndy Warhol’s iconic ‘Sticky Fingers’ cover was a hit with fans for one reason : everyone assumed it was Rolling Stones‘ singer Mick Jagger‘s crotch. In fact, the bulge in question belongs to Warhol regular Joe Dallesandro. Adding to the controversy was the fact that the working zipper on the cover ended up scratching other vinyl on the racks. In Spain, the original cover was censored and replaced with a “Can of fingers” cover. In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Sticky Fingers the “No. 1 Greatest Album Cover” of all time.


Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy (1973)

Led Zeppelin_Houses_of_the_HolyThe Hipgnosis cover based on the novel Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, features a group of naked children ascending the Giant’s Causeway. The interior art also depicts a distant figure of a naked Overlord standing on mossy ruins (nearby Dunluce Castle) while holding one of the children aloft in a ceremonial gesture. Although the album was originally released with the nudity intact, Atlantic Records were allowed to add a wrap-around paper title band to US and UK copies of the sleeve that had to be broken or slid off to access the record. This hid the children’s buttocks from general display, but still the album was either banned or unavailable in some parts of the Southern United States for several years.


David Bowie – Diamond Dogs (1974)

David Bowie_Diamond DogsThe cover artwork features Bowie as a striking half-man, half-dog grotesque painted by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert. It was controversial as the full painting clearly showed the hybrid’s genitalia. Very few copies of this original cover made their way into circulation at the time of the album’s release. According to the record-collector publication Goldmine price guides, these albums have been among the most expensive record collectibles of all time, as high as thousands of US dollars for a single copy. The genitalia were airbrushed out for the 1974 LP’s gatefold sleeve, although the original artwork was included in subsequent Rykodisc/EMI re-issues.


Roxy Music – Country Life (1974)

Roxy_Music-Country_LifeShot by Eric Boman, the cover features two scantily-clad models, Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald. Bryan Ferry met them in Portugal and persuaded them to do the photo shoot as well as to help him with the words to the song “Bitter-Sweet”. Although not credited for appearing on the cover, they are credited on the lyric sheet for their German translation work. The cover image was controversial in some countries such as the United States, Spain and the Netherlands, where it was censored for release. As a result, a later American LP release of Country Life (available during the years 1975–80) featured a different cover shot. Instead of Karoli and Grunwald posed in front of some trees, the reissue used a photo from the album’s back cover that featured only the trees


Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Pink Floyd_Wish You Were HereThe artwork depicts two men shaking hands in the alley of Warner Bros. Studios, with one on fire. As some retailers deemed it “too violent” and refused to sell the album, the cover was replaced on some re-releases with a black background featuring the album’s four-elements sticker.


Scorpions – Virgin Killer (1976)

Scorpions_Virgin KillerThis cover featured a photo of naked prepubescent girl, with her pubic area partially obscured by a “cracked glass” effect. Her pose and the title “Virgin Killer” added to the image’s notoriety. The Internet Watch Foundation, a British non-profit group who provides content blacklists for major ISPs in the country, also notably blacklisted pages on the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia for featuring the cover on its article about the album. This block was later retracted due to technical problems which occurred as a result of the blocking mechanisms and due to the already “wide availability” of the image.


Lynyrd Skynyrd – Street Survivors (1977)

Lynyrd Skynyrd_Street SurvivorsThe original cover sleeve for Street Survivors had featured a photograph of the band, particularly Steve Gaines, standing in the street of a town engulfed in flames. Three days after the album was released, three of the band members were killed in a plane crash due to fuel exhaustion. Out of respect for the deceased (and at the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve Gaines’ widow), MCA Records withdrew the original cover and replaced it with a similar image of the band against a simple black background. Thirty years later, for the deluxe CD version of Street Survivors, the original “flames” cover was restored.


Scorpions – Lovedrive (1979)

Scorpions_LovedriveThe cover depicted a well dressed man and woman seated in the back of a car, with one of the woman’s breasts exposed and connected to the man’s hand by stretched bubblegum. The back cover featured the same man and woman, but holding a photograph of the band, and her left breast completely exposed (without the gum). It was created by Storm Thorgerson of the design firm Hipgnosis. It caused some controversy upon the album’s release and was subsequently banned, with later pressings of the album bearing a simple design of a blue scorpion on a black background. The album’s artwork was named “Best album sleeve of 1979” by Playboy magazine.


Whitesnake – Lovehunter (1979)

Whitesnake_LovehunterLovehunter’s controversial cover art, featuring a naked woman straddling a large snake, was created by fantasy artist Chris Achilleos.


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