Under the covers... Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon Page 2

Thorgerson explained in the book The Work Of Hipgnosis – Walk Away Renee (Paper Tiger, 1978), how the process proceeded. 'The artwork was mainly mechanical – the spectrum was drawn up in black line and the colours indicated. The prism was airbrushed, black on white, and the separator reversed it out of a printer's black background.'

Colour Purple
One perhaps unexpected creative decision was that, 'We purposely omitted one colour, purple [indigo], because we thought it would not "read" clearly. The continuation of the light onto the back of the sleeve involves an impossible diminishing of the spectrum when it enters the second [inverted] prism so as to form a thin white beam again,


Storm Thorgerson, who in 1968 founded the graphic art group Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell, pictured in July 2010

which then enters the first prism on the front sleeve.' Thus, if the sleeves were opened out and viewed side by side, they formed a single continuous image, no doubt to the delight of many thousands of fans.

Unusually too, for that era, neither the band's name nor the title of the album appeared on the cover.


Pyramid Scheme
Hipgnosis also created the inserts which fans drooled over after opening the album. It is indicative not just of how much moolah was sloshing around in record company budgets in those days, but also of how much clout the Floyd could exert on their label EMI that, to secure a photo of the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt for the inserts, Thorgerson, his girlfriend and baby son, and Powell were all flown there to get the shot.

However, after arriving, a bout of food poisoning laid low everybody except Thorgerson, so he ended up totally alone in the starlit desert in the middle of the night, pointing his camera lens at one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.


'I hired a taxi at 2am to take me out to the pyramids', Thorgerson revealed. 'So there I am, thinking I'll be fine, and I put the camera on the tripod to do a long time exposure. It's a wonderful, clear night, and the moon is fantastic.'

But the shoot did not go entirely smoothly. 'At like 4am these figures come walking across – soldiers, with guns. I thought, "This is it. Young photographer dies a strange death in a foreign land". I was actually really scared. Of course, all my fears were unfounded. They kindly pointed out that where I stood was a firing range, and it wasn't very cool for me to be there. If I was there first thing in the morning, I might get a bullet up my butt.'



Diamond Giza
Delighted to be alive, Thorgerson got his shot, a beautiful infrared image which succeeded in making the pyramids appear even more mysterious and mystical than they already were. The Giza image was just one of two posters included as inserts with Dark Side. The other presented the band in concert, overlaid with scattered letters that formed the words 'Pink Floyd'.


As if all of this wasn't enough, the original album also came with two stickers, both illustrations of the pyramid theme, one representing day and the other night.

Asked for his perspective on the sleeve, the Floyd's guitarist Dave Gilmour said in 1988 that, 'When Hipgnosis came in with the prism thing, we pretty well all agreed instantly that it fitted perfectly. And, in fact, the amount of times that people have tried to copy the idea, and tried to do something similar, has proved that most people think of it as a very, very powerful image'.


Package Deal
Gilmour has also commented on the album as a whole, stating, 'Dark Side Of The Moon is the next, sort of, stage on from [Meddle] where we actually really got it right. We got the record right and we got the cover right and the whole package.

'We didn't think that it would do that well, but, um, we definitely knew that it would do considerably better than anything we'd done before.'

Or, for that matter, since. It's worth reflecting on the fact that while the band has earned millions in royalties from Dark Side, Thorgerson and his partner Powell, being freelancers, were paid £600 each for their efforts.