RIP Alex Steinweiss – Inventor of the Album Cover!

Alex Steinweiss, creating another album cover for Columbia Records, circa 1940s

It’s hard to imagine a time when a band, artist, or label didn’t think deeply about album cover art. It’s equally hard to imagine that this important process was considered not very important at all some 70 years ago. And with so many books and blogs talking about the best and worst album covers of all time, how often do you stop and think about where this all started?

Alex Steinweiss, who passed away this week at the age of 94, is credited as inventing the modern album cover while he was the head (and first) art director at Columbia Records from 1939 to 1973. Apparently, this new concept was so popular that within a few months sales jumped 800 percent! Steinweiss designed thousands of covers, a few favorites of ours are below (for more check out his website), in his time. And if you’ve been wondering what to do with that shoebox with $700 in it, then it might be a good idea to pick up the amazing and exhaustive book, Alex Steinweiss – The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover, published by Taschen. Thanks for the memories!