Visit the New York City Spots Where Famous Album Cover Photos Were Taken
Some of rock’s most iconic album-cover photographs were taken in New York City, and an excellent, informative site has made it their business to uncover and revisit many of those historic locations to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same all these years later. PopSpots NYC has the photographs and background stories behind dozens of the most famous album covers whose photos were shot in the Big Apple, including classic works by Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and the Ramones. They also expand their worldview a bit by focusing on some London- and U.K.-based album covers. We’ve selected some of our favorites below, and hope you enjoy this look at the Hidden NYC Locations Where Iconic Rock Album Covers Were Shot.
Faced with the challenge of coming up with their third album cover in a little more than a year, in 1975 Kiss turned to the streets of their hometown New York City armed only with a low-budget concept and some borrowed, ill-fitting suits. The photograph taken that day wound up being among the most famous images ever captured of the new Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Nearly 40 years later, it’s hard to go to one of the band’s concerts without seeing four friends replicating this cover somewhere in the crowd.
Could this be the most famously photographed block in New York City rock history? Not only was the cover of Led Zeppelin‘s legendary 1975 double album shot here, the Rolling Stones filmed the video for their 1981 hit ‘Waiting on a Friend‘ here too. As Popshots NYC points out, album designer Peter Corriston had to cut a floor out of the buildings on the ‘Graffiti’ image to make it fit on the square album cover.
We move a little west and quite a bit uptown to find the New York City location where the cover for the Doors‘ 1967 sophomore album was captured. In order to make up for the fact that this would be the only time the Doors didn’t appear on their album artwork — apparently Jim Morrison refused to do so — photographer Joel Brodsky attempted to capture the spirit of Federico Fellini’s 1954 circus film ‘La Strada‘ by capturing acrobats and jugglers on the city streets. According to Never Mind the Bus Pass‘ excellent story on the photo session, there was just one problem: All the real circus performers were out of town. So a taxi driver posed as the trumpet player and Brodsky’s assistant pretended he could juggle. Even the two real acrobats he managed to find weren’t up for the task: “The guy underneath could only hold up his partner for a few seconds — he kept on dropping him. There were a lot of arguments. It took us hours to get it right.”
There are very few rock stars who have chronicled and championed their hometowns as well as proud New Yorker Billy Joel. Born in the Bronx, raised and still residing in Long Island, and now also an official resident of Madison Square Garden, Joel used a downtown Manhattan subway station for the cover of his 1976 album ‘Turnstiles.’ According to PopSpots NYC, the singer returned to the same neighborhood a decade later to film the video for his 1986 hit ‘A Matter of Trust.’
The cover for Foghat‘s 1975 album ‘Fool for the City’ — still the best place to get the full-length version of the masterful ‘Slow Ride’ — finds drummer Roger Earl fishing in the sewers of the Lower East Side. Luckily for him, the normally bustling city streets are free of traffic — something you typically only see in movies or on TV, where everybody’s magically able to find empty parking spots right in front of their apartment.
Because there apparently aren’t enough historic, photo-friendly landmarks in their homeland, British rock heroes the Who traveled to uptown NYC for the photo that wound up on the cover of both their 1979 rockumentary and its corresponding soundtrack. In the iconic image, the group is draped in a large British flag while leaning against a wall near a statue honoring famous war hero, journalist and politician Carl Schurz — who, we’ll confess, we’ve never heard of until about five minutes ago, because we spent most of our high-school days listening to or reading about rock music. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!