Andy Warhol’s Unreleased Record Cover Designs.

There are currently 68 known record covers with designs or illustrations by Andy Warhol (not counting colour variations or variations in format — LP or 7″) produced in his lifetime–the exact number is unknown as new covers with his illustrations/designs seem to turn up with monotonous regularity as soon as there has been an exhibition purporting to show his complete oeuvre. A case in point being the discovery of Paul Desmond’s 1963 Take Ten LP found in 2019 just as the Warhol 1968 exhibition at Moderna Museet in Malmö, closed, where a “complete” collection of Warhol’s covers was shown.

In addition, there are countless record and CD covers that use Warhol’s art released since his death. There are also designs for at least six record sleeves that Warhol made that were never released. These are:
Progressive Piano — a Various Artists compilation — planned for release by RCA Records, both as a 10″ LP and as 7″ EP (probably a double EP) as RCA allocated catalogue numbers for both formats. Lithographs of these covers are in the collection of The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

Progressive Piano – 10″ LP, RCA Victor LJM-3001.

Progressive Piano – RCA Victor 45EP-EJB 3001.


– Four designs for a Billie Holiday four-track EP entitled Volume 3, probably aimed at Columbia Records, as the songs were recorded for that company’s subsidiaries. The song titles were written on the covers of two of the designs. There are four songs on one and seven on the second. The songs are:
Did I Remember?
I’ll Never Be the Same
They Say
Georgia on My Mind
I’m in a Low Down Groove
Romance in the Dark
Night and Day
No Regret
We do not know if these designs were actually commissioned or were simply Warhol’s own idea. No single record with these titles seems to have been released.

I first read about the four designs for the Billie Holiday covers in 2015 in Guy Minnebach’s excellent Andy Earhole blog. You can read his post here. And I’ve been thinking about trying to recreate them on record covers.

All these designs must be from the early 1950s. The Progressive Piano collection was probably as early as 1952 and the Billie Holiday designs I would guess were made around 1953 or 1954 as they are somewhat in the style of the drawings Warhol made for Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish and that appeared on the record covers to the two albums of pronunciation exercises that accompanied the book, published in 1953.

I made reproductions of the Progressive Piano LP and double 7″ EP several years ago and these have been included in exhibitions of Andy Warhol’s record cover art; most recently at Moderna Museet in Malmö, in 2019.

Recreating the Billie Holiday covers is much more difficult. Redrawing Warhol’s sketches means finding pens that can imitate Warhol’s lines. Then painting the colours round his drawings. So far I have attempted three of the covers:

There is a lot more work need to make them even remotely like Warhol’s originals. I hope I’ll be able to post more polished results sometime in the future.

Mother Samosa — A Ska Band From Bristol.

I recently bought a couple of promo CDs of Blur’s Think Tank album from Paul Coombs, who it turns out is a dedicated Banksy expert hailing from Banksy’s home town of Bristol. We began corresponding and Paul told me about a Bristolian ska band calling itself Mother Samosa. The band had released a CD called Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown in 1993. He told me that the band had originally released two cassettes, the second called The Fairground of Fear) that had become extremely rare. In actual fact the CD is also very difficult to find–I have yet to find a copy of any of them.

The CD cover of Mother Samosa’s Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown.


What is interesting for a collector of Banksy’s record cover art is the fact that the design of the cassette inlays is credited to one Robin Gunningham. Once upon a time, the Daily Mail tried to find out Banksy’s true identity and suggested that he was none other than a Bristolian named Robin Gunningham, said to have been born in 1974. The paper even approached Gunningham’s parents, who true to form, refused to admit anything.

A while ago music fan Raimund Floeck sent me a link to a podcast about the Vibronics, a dub group from Leicester. U.K. The podcast was an interview with Vibronics frontman, Steve Gibbs (a k a Steve Vibronics) who told a story about how in the mid to late 1990s an artist called Robin designed the Vibronics logo, and that this same Robin turned out to be the guy who became the famous artist Banksy. So I had to establish that Banksy had actually been in Leicester around that time. Two things could be established: 1. that there was a DJ couple in Leicester atthat time called Tom & Banksy and 2. Paul Coombs told me about a festival in Leicester in the mid 90s that many Bristol artists visited, probably including Banksy.

So, let’s try to create a possible timeline. If Banksy was born in 1974 (or 1975 as some others have suggested) he would have been 19 or 20 in 1993 when the Mother Samosa cassettes were released and he would have been perhaps 24 or 25 when the Vibronics logo was designed. Now, if this Robin is a fan of ska and dub music, it would seem to be a possible link between doing designs for a Bristol ska band (Mother Samosa) and a Leicester dub collective (The Vibronics.) What is known is that Banksy moved to London together with Hombre Records boss Jamie Eastman in 1998 or 1999 and designed the covers for hip hop artists One Cut (or OneCut.) He later became associated with Wall of Sound Records and designed a string of covers for artists on that label and its subsidiary Ultimate Dilemma. By the early 2000s he was back in Bristol.

As I reported in a previous post, Ed Cartwright, who sold me a copy of Röyksopp’s Melody A.M. promo, once worked for Wall of Sound records and was there in 2001 or 2002 when an artist called Robin (Ed never heard his surname) spray painted the covers to the Melody A.M. promo.

Banksy’s first came to widespread media attention in the U.K. in 2006 when he redesigned Paris Hilton’s CD booklet to reveal her topless and instead of the Paris CD included a CD-rom of music by DJ Danger Mouse. 500 copies were secretly placed in HMV stores all over the British Isles.

The redesigned Paris CD by Banksy and DJ Danger Mouse

Wouldn’t it be cool if my timeline was correct and Robin Gunningham is Banksy’s real name? But I’m only guessing, and I cannot, as yet, guarantee that the Mother Samosa cassette and CD covers or the Vibronics logo are actually early examples of Banksy’s art. But I’d like to think that they are.

The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers–Zip or No Zip.

Sticky Fingers was the Rolling Stones eighth full length U.K. album, released on April 23rd 1971. And when you ask anyone with any interest in record design what record covers did Andy Warhol design the answer will generally be: the Banana cover (The Velvet Underground & Nico) and the one with the zip.

Andy Warhol had the idea to design a record cover with a working zip. He photographed one of his associates’, Jed Johnson ‘s jeans from the waist down to the mid thighs Some say it was Joe Dallesandro, but I disagree). He also photographed someone wearing jeans from the rear. No one is exactly sure who’s rear this was. Once Warhol had designed and photographed the cover images and the underpants hidden under the front cover, Craig Brown put the package together including the inner sleeve. An additional design first was the inclusion of John Pasche’s tongue logo, the first time this appeared anywhere.

Sticky Fingers cover.

The U.S: cover.

The album was released in the United Kingdom with the band’s name over the right hip pocket and the title on the right thigh. In the United States both title and band name were placed on the belt towards the right.

Some people have manged to separate the right edge of the front cover to allow it to open and reveal the underpants beneath and called this a gatefold cover. However, the only true gatefold version was produced in New Zealand in 1973, with the record being inserted from inside the gatefold as opposed to the normal top insertion on all other issues. In addition this cover had a printed, non-functioning zip.

The outer spread of the New Zealand gatefold cover.
The inner spread of the New Zealand gatefold. Note the flip over from the rear cover at top and bottom.

There are variations of the zip, too. The standard zip has a small pull tag. There were a small number of early U.K. pressings with a larger pull tag, the Pan tag (as PAN is inscribed on it), and there is apparently a third variation on the U.K. version with the STAR pull tag. I’ve never seen one of those, but there’s a picture on Discogs.com.

The standard zipper on German pressings of the album had a much larger pull tag, similar in shape and size to the Pan tag.

Several reissues of the Sticky Fingers album have appeared over the years, many of which, like the New Zealand gatefold mentioned above, have had printed, non-working zips. There are a couple of special issues that are worthy of note here: in 2015 Polydor Records released an expanded version as a limited edition double LP with working zip with John Pasche’s tongue design as the zip’s pull tag. In 2020 the company reissued the original album half-speed mastered and pressed on 180g vinyl, but the cover of this album had a printed, non-functioning zip.

There a re myriads of variations of the Sticky Fingers cover released in other countries. I do not collect these but I do have all the variations described in this short post in my collection, bar the U.K. PAN zip pull version. I am not sure I need to include that as well.