Three Controversial Album Covers That Caused a Ruckus—From Matchbox Twenty to the Beatles

Album covers make a statement. Even in the internet age, they’re important (see: Lizzo).

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But before the turn of the latest millennium, they were even more influential and impactful. Sometimes, though, they go awry. Or perhaps they cause exactly the stir a band anticipated or hoped for.

Below are three album covers that truly caused a ruckus and, well, continue to today.

1. Yesterday And Today, The Beatles

Not an official studio album, but a compilation record, this album cover showcased The Beatles posing together in butcher’s coats. But for some reason there are plastic naked baby doll parts and slabs of meat peppered amongst them like they’d fallen from the sky. Yet, the band seems perfectly at home. It’s an odd pairing and one that makes no sense today. It’s like they took a family vacation to the uncanny valley. While it was supposed to be, it would seem, a parody of pop art, it didn’t work. Capitol Records recalled some 50,000 copies.

2. Yourself or Someone Like You, Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty’s debut album, which put them on a trajectory for great success, caused the band to get sued in 2005 by Frank Torres, the person on the cover. Torres said the band did not have his permission for the album, noting that he was just walking down the street one day when a photographer asked him to pose for a picture. He had no idea it would become a multi-platinum album cover and he wanted money. Torres added that Matchbox Twenty “knowingly, intentionally, and maliciously” took advantage of him. Torres died in 2016.

3. Nevermind, Nirvana

Another album cover that caused a lawsuit is Nirvana’s Nevermind, which has continued to make headlines today. The band’s remaining members were sued by the person whose baby picture is on the front cover. That person, known as the “Nirvana Baby,” eventually lost in court, however. Maybe it was because he had a tattoo of the album cover on his body, wearing it proudly. The judge and everyone else assumed it was just a money grab.

Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

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