From “Please Please Me” to “Let It Be,” The Beatles's album covers seemed to have evolved just as much as the music found on the records themselves. Early album covers such as “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help” and “Beatles For Sale,” featured the Fab Four in classic portraits and poses, while “Revolver,” “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Yellow Submarine” were artistic expressions of color and collage. The Beatles not only took pride in the sound of their music, as evident by the numerous hits and awards garnered by the legendary band, but in the presentation of the records as well, creating some of the most memorable album covers in rock music history.
- “Please Please Me” Released by Parlophone to capitalize on the massive success of their second single, “Please Please Me” introduced the Beatles to the world. The album cover depicts all four members peering down at the camera from a balcony above, wearing dark suits and haircuts that, at the time, were considered long and rebellious. They each have innocent, excited smiles plastered on their faces. This is the image of a band that has no idea they are on the verge of changing the face of rock music forever. The photo was taken at the headquarters of EMI in London’s West End.
- “Beatles For Sale” “Beatles For Sale” was the band’s fourth album in two year’s time. John Lennon and Paul McCartney had begun writing songs of a more personal nature and the maturity in the music reflected the change. The band members themselves looked as if they were beginning to grow up. Gone are the suits of just the year before. On “Beatles For Sale,” all four Beatles are photographed wearing dark coats and scarves. The innocent smiles have disappeared as well. Each has a somber, indifferent look on their face.
- “Revolver” The cover artwork for the Beatles’s seventh studio album was created by an old friend, artist Klaus Voormann. The piece is part black and white line drawing and part photo collage. The caricatures depict the faces of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Cascading through each of the band member’s hair are pieces of black and white photographs of the band, mostly from their younger days as their haircuts reflect. A photograph of Voormann can be seen peeking out of George’s hair, just under the slight smile of John’s mouth.
- “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Probably one of the most recognized album covers in rock and roll history, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released a year after “Revolver” and features the Beatles dressed as the fictitious title band wearing colorful, military style outfits. Crowded around the band are cardboard cutouts of famous celebrities of the time. Marilyn Monroe, Laurel and Hardy, Bob Dylan, Edgar Allen Poe, Humphrey Bogart and Aleister Crowley are among the faces that can be seen on this iconic cover. The bottom half of the album cover features a bass drum with the album title painted on the face and a flower garden in which the colorful plants spell out the word Beatles.
- “Abbey Road” Another iconic and often imitated image, the cover for the eleventh Beatles album is a photograph of the band crossing a street. For the first time in the band’s history, their name and the name of the album are left off the cover. Using a stepladder, photographer Iain Macmillan had enough time to snap off six shots before traffic could resume on the street. The album cover was the center of conspiracy theories, as fans were sure that Paul McCartney had died years earlier and the man playing bass on the album was an imposter. Fans point to the band members crossing the street, almost like a funeral procession, as a clue. John in front, wearing all white, is the preacher. Ringo, the next in line, dressed in a suit, is the pallbearer. Paul, barefoot and holding his “last” cigarette, is the dead man and is the only member out of step. George brings up the rear, dressed in jeans, as the gravedigger.