It is often touted as the best album of all time, and has become so ingrained as part of popular culture that it’s hard to believe that the concept for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon cover was actually born out of a simple textbook illustration.
We were lucky enough to have the album’s original illustrator, George Hardie, visit us at our offices where we chatted about the album.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the iconic design has its routes in a chance 1968 meeting in a photographic darkroom at the Royal College of Art in London. It was then that George first met Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell – the creative minds behind now legendary design studio, Hipgnosis.
Over the year, Hipgnosis produced artwork for some of the most influential bands of the era including Led Zeppelin, Genesis and Black Sabbath, but it was the bold graphic design for The Dark Side of the Moon which thrust the studio’s work into the public eye when it hit record stores in March 1973.
Until this point, much of Hipgnosis’ work had been photographic. But under the direction of Pink Floyd’s keyboardist Richard Wright to produce something “simple, clinical and precise” their ideas took on a new dimension. The breakthrough moment was provided by Storm Thorgerson who remembered an illustration from a photography book showing the process of light refraction through a glass prism; “An inspirational image in itself” as George recalls. The concept seemed particularly fitting for Pink Floyd who were famous for their use of light shows.
“Slightly re-arranging the illustration, I drew a line artwork and indicated colours using percentages of magenta, cyan, yellow and black from a printer’s chart – the simplest way of making this kind of line artwork where the lines act as the edges of each colour and the printer fills in the colours.” explains Hardie. The prism was airbrushed, black on white, and reversed out of a mechanical printer’s black background to produce the final effect.
After its release, The Dark Side of the Moon went to number one on the US Billboard chart for one week, but it ended up staying in the charts for a consecutive 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988 – longer than any other album in history.
The band were suddenly propelled from the underground into the mainstream. With an estimated 45 million copies sold, it became Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. The white beam of light passing through a prism to form the bright colours of the spectrum against a stunning black background invited listeners to discover the music inside, and it still does today.
Own the Dark Side of the Moon Framed Edition
Now you can own this definitive piece of Pink Floyd memorabilia – a remastered copy of The Dark Side of the Moon vinyl professionally framed and signed by the original album artist, George Hardie himself.
Royal Mail have revealed 10 new David Bowie stamps, which will mark a tribute to one of the most influential music and cultural figures of all time.
The stamps are Royal Mail’s second dedicated music artist stamp issue, following on from the popular Pink Floyd release in the summer of last year.
Scheduled for release on 14th March 2017, the stamps will feature iconic album covers and live performances from 1971 right up to his final studio album Blackstar.
Here’s your first look at the new stamps alongside a bit of info about each one…
1st Class – Hunky Dory:
His fourth album and released in December 1971. Time magazine chose it as part of their “100 best albums of all time” list in January 2010.
1st Class – Aladdin Sane:
His sixth album and released in April 1973. The album was among six Bowie entries in Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
1st Class – “Heroes”:
His twelfth studio album and released in October 1977. This was the second instalment of his “Berlin Trilogy” recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. The title track remains one of Bowie’s best known and acclaimed songs.
£1.52 – Let’s Dance:
His fifteenth studio album and released in April 1983. Co-produced by Nile Rodgers, and featured three of the most successful singles “Let’s Dance”, “Modern Love” and “China Girl”. Let’s Dance is Bowie’s bestselling album.
£1.52 – Earthling:
His twentieth studio album and released in February 1997, this was the first album Bowie had self-produced since Diamond Dogs.
£1.52 – Blackstar:
Bowie’s final studio album, released on 8th January 2016 to coincide with his 69th birthday. Bowie died two days after its release.
The Miniature Sheet
1st Class – The Ziggy Stardust Tour, 1972: The tour promoted The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars studio album and took in the UK, North America, and Japan.
1st Class – The Serious Moonlight Tour, 1983: The tour was designed to support the Let’s Dance album and was Bowie’s longest, largest and most successful concert tour.
£1.52 – The Stage Tour, 1978: Also known as Isolar II – The 1978 World Tour and The Low/Heroes World Tour because it was staged to promote the Low and Heroes albums.
£1.52 – A Reality Tour, 2004: Staged to promote the Reality album this tour was to be Bowie’s last tour.
Background Image – The Glass Spider Tour, 1987: launched to promote the album Never Let Me Down.
A First Class Tribute to a Music Legend
These stamps are sure to be sought after by anyone looking for a really collectable piece of Bowie memorabilia. And there are even due to be limited edition ‘fan sheets’ issued for the those who want to keep something truly special.
I wasn’t sure Royal Mail could top last year’s Pink Floyd issue, but these stamps are so well executed and poignant in my opinion they will go down as some of the most important musical stamps ever to grace our postage.
You can reserve all of the new David Bowie stamps right now on a limited edition Collector Card – professionally framed and ready to hang. Click here for details.
Prince George appears on a British 1st class stamp issued 21st April 2016 – the first time he will be pictured on our post.
The new stamp is part of a special miniature sheet issued to commemorate the Queen’s 90th Birthday, and forms part of a group shot featuring Princes William and Charles, alongside Her Majesty the Queen herself.
Photographer Ranald Mackechnie captured the shot in Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room, with the aid of a few carefully positioned books to bring the young Prince George into the frame.
The miniature sheet harks back to the stamps issued in 2000 for the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday, which also featured a family scene. However this stamp sheet is particularly special, as it is the first time three heirs apparent have posed together in this way.
Perfect for collecting
The new stamp sheet will be particularly sought-after by collectors, as philatelic ‘firsts’ like this are always in demand – especially when linked to such an important Royal event.
Further adding to the appeal are six more commemorative UK stamps due to be issued simultaneously. Each features a photograph of the Queen from throughout her life, and the images are instantly evocative of her lifetime of service to the country.
Aside from their visual appeal, there are also a number of British ‘firsts’ here too, including the first time the Queen has been pictured on a stamp with a head of state from another country – in this case Nelson Mandela.
Suffice to say, this impressive new issue is a fitting tribute to The Queen, and these stamps will make a proud addition to the collection of anyone that wants to mark this landmark Royal occasion.
You can own ALL six new stamps, plus the miniature sheet, on The Ultimate Queen’s 90th Birthday First Day Cover. Officially postmarked by Royal Mail on the Queen’s Birthday 21st April 2016, this cover is available to order now.