As with pretty much everything the band did, The Beatles set a trend, this time for LP covers, with the release of 1966′s Revolver. Employing the illustrations of their pal Klaus Voorman and the photography of Robert Whitaker, Revolver ushered in the psychedelic era with force. Its name was even agreed upon while all four members worked on a psychedelic painting.
But The Beatles’ influential 1967 record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band blew minds wide open. The Grammy-winning cover was created by art champion and director Robert Fraser, and married the work of designers Peter Blake and Jann Haworth with more than 70 artists, writers, thinkers and figures influential to The Beatles. The Beatles themselves appeared alongside simulations of themselves, a nod to the death of Hard Day’s Night–fueled Beatlemania. The cover, which included cutouts for mustaches and badges, eventually warranted its own legend for disciples who just love to Geek The Beatles. The whole epochal art project proved about 100 times more expensive than any cover made before. Its influence has been immeasurable.
By the time The Beatles got to their last proper album, 1969′s Abbey Road, they stripped themselves entirely of simulations and presented four friends parting at the road responsible for pop music’s most memorable sonics. And even that self-referential maneuver started a trend: Bands, including the naked Red Hot Chili Peppers, similarly walked across roads in ironic homage. Baby, that’s art.