Graphic designer Gary Burden, who designed classic rock album covers including Neil Young’s 1974 “On the Beach,” has died at age 84, Young announced on his Archive website March 10.
No cause of death was given.
Grammy Award-winner Burden, who Young also said was his longtime friend, also conceived and designed covers for the Doors’ “Morrison Hotel,” Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Deja Vu” and Rickie Lee Jones’ “The Devil You Know.”
Young said he and Burden were longtime collaborators, and several of his unreleased albums will have covers designed by the artist.
From his first covers in 1968–for the Mamas and Papas, Steppenwolf and Richard Harris–through more recent designs for My Morning Jacket and Monsters of Folk, Burden’s work is a who’s who of folk and rock albums through the decades that would be instantly recognizable to music fans.
Young writes about his work with Burden on the cover for “On the Beach” in his 2012 autobiography “Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream.”
The cover, which Burden has said was his favorite, sets a beach umbrella and chairs in a kitchy pose in the sand, with the tail fin of a yellow Cadillac buried nearby. A newspaper headline refers to President Nixon, a theme carried through in one of the album’s songs. Critics have cited Neville Shute’s 1958 novel “On the Beach” and Salvador Dali’s “Persistence of Memory” as influences.
Burden’s life journey took him from the Marine Corps to the San Francisco beatnik scene to architectural design studies at UC Berkeley. He designed a house for Mama Cass Elliott, who suggested he design album covers.
He also worked in stage design and directed music videos.