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Graphic Design USA Magazine

Favorite Album Covers of the Past Half-Century

In honor of our 50th anniversary, GDUSA conducted a nationwide survey of the graphic design community. Our first issue of the year focused on the most influential designers of the past 50 years. Our next issue features your favorite design projects and logos and will be in the mail and online in the next few weeks. Just to whet your appetite here are your top 10 favorite album covers of the past half-century.


pink floyd Dark Side of the Moon_dark_side

1. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon | Storm Thorgerson, Hipgnosis



2. Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers | Craig Braun, Andy Warhol



3. Nirvana Nevermind | Robert Fisher, Kurt Cobain



4. Beatles White Album | Richard Hamilton



5. Sex Pistols God Save The Queen | Jamie Reid



6. Beatles Abbey Road  | Iain Macmillan



7. Frank Sinatra Tone Poems of Color | Saul Bass



8. Joy Division Unknown Pleasures | Peter Saville



9. Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction (Robert Williams)



10. Beatles Sgt. Peppers | Jann Haworth, Sir Peter Blake

We know we probably missed a few of your favorites so let us know which ones in the comments section.


  1. Jerry Moscato says: May 8, 20138:10 am

    Perhaps it would have benefitted this category more by making it a 100 Best List. It would serve no justice to make a top 10 list of all time movies.

  2. Punk says: May 7, 20132:23 pm

    What about the Dead Kennedys – first band to be put on trial for there album art. In the mid-1980s, the band was in an obscenity trial in the United States over the artwork of their album Frankenchrist -which included famous artists H. R. Giger’s Penis Landscape. The band was charged with “distribution of harmful matter to minors”, but the trial ended with a hung jury.

  3. Punk says: May 7, 20132:17 pm

    A creative cover by the punk band the feederzs – the front cover was made out of sandpaper so it would scratch the album you had next to it.

  4. Havenot says: May 7, 20131:22 pm

    I’ll probably get beat up for this comment, but personally I feel if everyone would separate the visual arts from music, then maybe there would be a focus on creating music that is fun to listen to, like long ago, when it seemed music was the important element of a rock band and every band was unique. Maybe we wouldn’t be living in a time when rock has become about industry profits catering to little 12 year olds who gladly spew Mommy and Daddy’s cash for their favorite heart throb or the untalented contest shows, neither of which has produced an important musical effort in over ten years… Rock-n-Roll is dead and buried.

  5. Pat says: April 3, 20132:28 pm

    Number 4….You have got to be kidding me right?
    How does this even fit in the top 10000 of album covers, a toddler can create a better album cover with its own spit. I don’t care how great the Beatles are musically, putting that bogus cover in any top 10 list is just disrespectful to other artists. You know people complain about Justin Bieber and how his fans constantly flatter him and how he is famous for crap music, when some people are no different with The Beatles. I can think of 50 better album covers from bands I bet none of the people surveyed even know because apparently any new music sucks.
    Some people are stuck in the past and it makes me sad.

  6. Froshprince says: March 23, 20134:59 pm

    I think the cover for Parklife or The Great Escape by Blur are great covers.

  7. ed schecter says: March 23, 20139:38 am

    Just discussing album covers last night, satanic majesty’s request by the stones was absolutely unique, and is in my top 3. Right there with Sgt. Peppers

  8. David Kohler says: March 22, 201310:03 am

    The tough thing about a list like this, is that people only know what they know—i.e. only covers that the majority of people have seen are being considered. There are so many incredible covers from small manufacturers in pop/rock and other genres of music.

    Even in the pop area, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Badfinger, Ohio Players, Parliament (Maggot Brain anyone) and many others were known for their amazing covers but few in the mainstream would know of them.

    Its hard to argue that most of these would be in anyone’s top 100 but I’m not sure all would make my top 10.

  9. I'M STUCK IN THE PAST says: March 21, 20132:36 pm

    You’re right: There were no good album covers after 1991… You totally glossed over two decades of music.

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