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The Beatles Album Covers



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The Beatles' UK album covers

by Patrick Roefflaer

For the writing of this article I have used information found in the following books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder.

Furthermore I found interesting information on countless websites.


Revolver - Klaus Voorman

Freeman proposed making a photo montage using the Beatles' four faces for the Revolver sleeve. When you would spin the sleeve, the four faces would melt into one. But the result wasn’t really satisfying. The montage is reproduced in The Beatles Anthology book.

Because Freeman was going to turn his first movie, in 1966, it was the last time the Beatles used his services. Freeman and the group amiably ended their association.

You can buy Robert Freeman's book of Beatles photos, "A Private View" at Amazon.

This is a reproduction of Robert Freeman's intended cover for Revolver

Klaus Voormann, an old friend from Hamburg, who recently had moved to London, was asked to design the cover. After hearing some tracks, he decided that the cover should reflect the same avant-garde feel. "I wanted to push the design further than normal," he told Martin O'Gorman in 2006. "I did a scribble piece on a big A2 layout sheet of paper, with lots of different sketches of the little heads, in felt pen. I didn't do the big representation. I just went to see them with that piece of paper folded up in my pocket and that was enough!"

He than made the line-drawing of the four faces. "I drew the faces from memory," continues Voormann in Mojo. "George's face was very difficult to draw. It was easier with John, Paul and Ringo, but George was always the problem. I could not get his face right, so eventually I took a newspaper and cut those eyes and mouth out."

According to Pete Shotton the cover was finished in Lennon's home, in Kenwood: "John, Paul, and I devoted an evening to sifting through an enormous pile of newspapers and magazines for pictures of the Beatles after which we cut out the faces and glued them all together. Our handiwork was later superimposed onto (the) line drawing by Klaus Voormann." "The photo of Ringo with the funny striped shirt on," remembers Voormann, "that was cut out of a magazine, from a picture of a girl who had that poster on her wall. That's why the picture is at a funny angle. I had a few strange ones where John was pulling a face, or Paul was laughing, but in general, the photos show their sweet side."

"There was one picture where Paul was sitting on a toilet. I think that photo was taken in Hamburg."

Klaus recalled the presentation of the finished artifact. "I went to the EMI house, up to George Martin's office and I stood the artwork up on a filing cabinet. There was Brian Epstein, George Martin, his secretary and the four lads. I was scared, because nobody said anything. They were just looking at it. I thought, ****, they hate it.

The Paul looked closer and said, "Hey that's me sitting on a toilet!" George Martin took a look and said, "You can't show that!" Paul said, "No, it's great!" But then he gave it some thought and said, "Well, maybe we should take that one off.." So that broke the ice.

Then they started talking about it. Everybody loved it, George loved it, John loved it, Ringo loved it. I looked at Brian, who was standing in the corner and he was crying… I thought, Oh no… what is he doing? He came up to me and said, "Klaus, this is exactly what we needed. I was worried that this whole thing might not work, but I know now that this the cover. This LP, will work – thank you.""

There's a small drawing of Klaus himself, on the right side, between John and George's heads.

Early sketch of Revolver - Klaus Voorman

Attempt to recreate the finished drawing before collage.

The album's title isn't decided until July 2nd 1966, while the Beatles are on tour, in Tokyo. At first Abracadabra was considered. But somebody else had used that title already. Other candidates were Magic Circles and Beatles On Safari, Bubble And Squeak and Free Wheelin' Beatles. In the end, everybody is happy with Revolver. The title suggests the movement of the record on the turntable. It has nothing to do with a gun.

For the back cover, a black-and white picture by Robert Whitaker shows the four well known faces, covered in sunglasses. It was taken during the shooting of the Paperback Writer/Rain promo films. For the Capitol version of Revolver a slightly different picture is used.

Revolver back cover - Robert Whitaker

On 11 March 1967 Revolver is awarded with the "Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts of 1966", during the ninth annual Grammy Awards.

Click on an album cover to read about it:


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