The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ Album Cover Designer Explains Its Creation 50 Years On
By Thanussha Priyah, 30 Sep 2019
Image via Imma Gambardella / Shutterstock.com
The 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album was celebrated this month with a series of reissues, which included a super-deluxe edition, a Blu-Ray Audio disc and straight CD and vinyl packages. Volkswagen also finally relocated the illegally-parked Beetle in the background to commemorate the milestone.
The cover was created by John Kosh, who was 23 years old at the time. In a recent interview with USA Today, he surprisingly divulged that he only had two days to submit the cover.
With all the urgency, he never would have expected the shot of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road outside the studio to become an icon for years to come.
The famous picture was photographed by both Kosh and late photographer Iain MacMillan at Abbey Road, where the band recorded most of their music. The two of them later realized the impact of the shot after parodies of the cover, including one by Red Hot Chili Peppers, emerged.
Kosh detailed that he was given a check of £300, signed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon themselves.
As the creative director of The Beatles’ label Apple Records then, his Abbey Road art would come after those of Sgt. Pepper, The White Album, and Rubber Soul.
Kosh was not sure if the album had taken on the ‘Abbey Road’ name before the picture was chosen, as it was all “such a rush.”
However, he recalled it was almost called “Everest,” because Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer who worked with The Beatles, was smoking Everest Menthol cigarettes.
Kosh said when he heard She’s So Heavy, he was almost on his “knees crying” because in his opinion, it was the band’s “best album ever.”
Initially, they also had plans to have The Beatles travel to the Himalayas for the photograph. Kosh laughed and said, “You can’t get all four Beatles in one room sometimes anyway, let alone crossing a street.”
As there was tension surrounding the Let it Be album, Kosh did not think the lads would come up with another. However, he ate his words when he listened to their new music.
The Abbey Road album cover was a huge contributor to the “Paul is dead” conspiracy theory, as some believed the cover was a funeral possession with each member taking on a significant role. Lennon, dressed in white, was said to be a heavenly figure, while Ringo Starr in black was the undertaker. George Harrison in denim was deemed as the gravedigger, while the barefooted McCartney was presumed to be the one dead.
The iconic Volkswagen Beetle had a license plate that read, “28IF,” which supposedly represented that McCartney would have been 28 if he survived.
Since he had only two days to work on the album, Kosh revealed that he would have done things differently if he had more time. Some ideas he mentioned included adding a border to the cover and printing the album art in day-glo colors.
But when he now looks at the album and its reprints, he tells himself, “Give it a rest, Kosh.”
50 years ago today, the Beatles blessed us with their masterpiece, Abbey Road - one of the greatest albums of all time, defining a whole generation.— joanne (@getbackjow) September 26, 2019
Happy 50th Abbey Road! ✌️❤️ pic.twitter.com/FMjgAwd4UR
today is the 50th birthday of the abbey road album. here’s some outtakes from the photo shoot. pic.twitter.com/Gh2fVB7fuS— 𝐛𝐚𝐦𝐛𝐢 (@seventiespink) September 26, 2019
Happy 50th Birthday to Abbey Road!— Dust💫 (@Dust_PNG) September 26, 2019
Going to spin it today. pic.twitter.com/Us9aXjo4J3
[via USA Today, images via Imma Gambardella / Shutterstock.com]
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