Us And Them The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis
Author Mark Blake has released his latest book Us and Them The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis. David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Nick Mason were all interviewed for the book. There are also some pictures inside that haven’t been published before.
Mark Blake is an acclaimed music journalist and author. Former assistant editor of Q magazine and long-time contributor to Mojo, Blake has written for many high-profile publications including Rolling Stone and Billboard. And Hipgnosis as many fans know have created many of the iconic album covers from the good old days of the full size LP cover art format. This includes Dark Side of the Moon and others.
Us And Them The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis By Mark Blake. Publishing 2nd February 2023 Nine Eight Books / Hardback / £22 RRP
“There was one slightly oddball character in Storm and the slightly more measured character in the shape of Po… And it stayed that way for the next fifty years” – Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
As their most celebrated creation for Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ prepares to mark its 50th anniversary, ‘Us And Them’ recounts the definitive story of the Hipgnosis design partnership, their iconic album artwork and their rock ‘n’ roll lives.
Between the late 1960s and early ’80s, the design house Hipgnosis created some of the most iconic and ubiquitous album artwork of all time. Their original lifespan coincided with the golden age of the 12-inch LP, beginning just as the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper made the record sleeve the ultimate blank canvas and ending just as new technology looked set to usurp vinyl.
After designing an album cover for their friends Pink Floyd, students Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell and Storm Thorgerson would go on to define the visual identity of rock and roll for the next fifteen years, swiftly gaining international prominence for their famed The Dark Side of the Moon artwork. This paved the way for other major musicians to set foot in the surreal photo-design world of Storm and Po, resulting in seminal Hipgnosis creations for the likes of Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Genesis, Black Sabbath, ELO and Yes.
In this authorised account, with access to previously unpublished material and exclusive contributions from David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Aubrey Powell and the late Storm Thorgerson, best-selling Pink Floyd biographer Mark Blake reveals the pioneering ambition and grand vision that led to Hipgnosis’s success, as well as the clashing egos and artistic differences that undermined it.
The stories behind the duo’s greatest works illuminate their chaotic, occasionally life-threatening, modus operandi. Us And Them recounts the derring-do behind the sleeve for Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy, where it was decided to shoot a naked family, sprayed silver and gold, clambering over rocks in the onset of winter at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Elsewhere, the final image for Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here incorporated petrochemicals, fire and Hollywood stuntmen and took a staggering three weeks to complete. For the cover of Wings Greatest Hits, the Hipgnosis creative team found themselves risking life and limb in the bitter cold jumping from a helicopter over the Swiss Alps whilst grappling an unwieldy statue of a goddess deity.
The Hipgnosis story also offers hitherto-untold insight into some of music’s most legendary bands, as viewed through the prism of the visionary artists who shaped their imagery and cultural legacy.
With their work still referenced, reproduced and revered worldwide, Us and Them is a timeless rock’n’roll adventure and a compelling human drama, exploring the vital intersection between art and music.
“The double act was amazing. The charming, amiable bonhomie of Aubrey and the belligerent “Do I have to deal with these scum musicians?” approach from Storm. It was marvellous and everything we deserved at the time.” – Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
In addition to the main release of the book, there are some limited edition signed versions. Check out the Resident Music website.