4 Unforgettable Classic Rock Album Covers

The genre of classic rock was born in the 1960s, cemented in the 1970s, and has lived on in the decades since. Part of the reason for the genre’s early success was its connection to vinyl albums. Music out on wax was an event, something to behold, something sacred. It was also an excuse to treat the record as high art, with the cover playing a major role.

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As a result, there have been seemingly countless album covers that have raised eyebrows and stuck in the minds of music fans for years. We wanted to highlight four such album covers, one from each of the decades—the 1960s through the 1990s.

[RELATED: 5 Albums That Truly Changed the Course of Popular Music]

1. Abbey Road (1969)

The British-born band The Beatles have several iconic album covers, from the blank face of The White Album to the well-populated and floral Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But it’s Abbey Road from 1969 that stands at the top of the former Mop Top’s list. How many people in the history of the world since 1969 have taken to a crosswalk and recreated the legendary cover? 500,000? 5 billion? It’s all because of the Fab Four and their synchronized stroll that appears on the record, designed by creative director John Kosh. The cover includes a white VW Beetle and no mention of the band or album name. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the LP includes songs like “Come Together,” “Carry the Weight” and “Octopus’s Garden.”

2. Sticky Fingers (1971)

This 1971 album cover from the British-born blues-rock band The Rolling Stones does not offer subtlety. A man’s crotch area is the sole subject matter of the photograph. And the suggestive title of the record adds to the sexual connotations. It was a big statement for the band, which prides itself on live performances, stirring music, and lead singer Mick Jagger’s signature hips. The band took it so far that, for a while, fans could buy the album with a real-life working zipper on the cover, before the manufacturing of it got unmanageable. The photo for the cover was shot by iconic American artist Andy Warhol and while many thought it was Jagger on the front, it wasn’t.

3. Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

We move from the front of a man’s midsection to the back with this 1984 album from the New Jersey-born rocker Bruce Springsteen. Continuing to play on the theme of sex, this album cover may even be a nod to the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers. Either way, it displays the blue-collar, workman-like quality that Springsteen made famous. Worn-out blue jeans and an old t-shirt, with a ratty hat stuck in the back pocket. Unlike the cover of Sticky Fingers, this photo is actually of Springsteen and it was taken by legendary rock and art photographer Annie Leibovitz.

4. Nevermind (1991)

This 1991 grunge album by the Pacific Northwest-born rock band Nirvana shows a naked male baby floating in a pool chasing after a dollar bill. Uncomfortable for some, including the baby in question, who later grew up and sued the band (losing his case). This album is meant to suggest that no one, not even infants, is safe from capitalism and materialism. Because it shows the baby’s genitals, it was immediately an album that shocked. And it continues to today. For that reason, it is unmistakably memorable.

Photo: Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Album Cover

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