Daring artist and record industry veteran revolutionised the way we collect music.
Alex Steinweiss, who dreamed up the concept of album cover art in the 1930s and gave us the first examples of creatively illustrated record sleeves, has died at the age of 94.
During his 25-year career at Columbia Records, the innovative artist produced more than 800 album covers, not only creating the genre of record cover illustration but elevating it to an artform in itself.
Born in 1917, this Brooklyn native started out designing advertisements for Columbia, but quickly sold music executives on the idea of boosting sales and competing with RCA/Victor through striking illustration and graphic text for the new long-playing 33 1/3 rpm records. He described the generic brown paper covers of 1920s and 1930s releases as “tombstones”.
Steinweiss’ first effort, Smash Song Hits by Rodgers & Hart,was a smash hit indeed, yielding a sales increase of 894 per cent… Not to mention an exciting new form of artistic expression that has captivated record collectors ever since.
A music enthusiast from early childhood, he designed artwork for some of the world’s most beloved classical music recordings. His style incorporated geometric designs à la modeduring the 1940s and 1950s, with...