From Frank Sinatra To Jimi Hendrix: Art Director Ed Thrasher Designed Defining Album Covers

Covers Ed Thrasher

In the nineteen-sixties there was no MTV. Pop and rock stars had to rely on their album covers to build up an image. The LP album cover offered plenty of space to do so. One of the great American album designers and photographer was Ed Thrasher (1932-2006).

In 1957 Ed Thrasher started as graphical artist at Capitol Records and later became art director. In 1964 he went to Warner Bros. Records, where he was responsible for many Reprise Records covers (Reprise Records was founded by Frank Sinatra in 1957 and sold to Warner Bros. Records in 1963).

Ed Thrasher helped initiate a change of paradigm in album design. Until the early nineteen-sixties album covers were not considered art. Usually there was a more or less nice picture of the the artist on the cover. In many cases the artist wasn’t even on the cover, but a female model or dancing teenagers. During the nineteen-sixties cover designs changed. The covers became more diverse and were essential in portraying and marketing the artist’s image.

Ed Thrasher had the talent to adjust to his clients. He found the right approach to every artist. This versatility explains, why he could work for artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix. For the Joni Mitchell LP “Clouds” Ed Thrasher stayed in the background and used a self-portrait of her for the cover. He also worked as photographer, specializing in music and movie artists. Not only did he shoot the iconic Nancy Sinatra picture for the “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” cover, but also many pictures of her father Frank Sinatra.

Ed Thrasher and Linda Gray

For your daily dose of trivia you may want to know, that Ed Thrasher was married to actress Linda Gray for twenty years (“Dallas”).

So keep your eyes open when you browse through a stack of old records. On many covers you will certainly find written in small letters “Art Direction: Ed Thrasher” or “Photo: Ed Thrasher”.

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7 thoughts on “From Frank Sinatra To Jimi Hendrix: Art Director Ed Thrasher Designed Defining Album Covers

  1. In 1968 or 1969 I went to a Jimi Hendrix concert including the Amboy Dukes and the Soft Machine and went and bought the Hendrix album the next day. I do NOT remember buying a Hendrix poster showing Jimi and the boys on horseback, HOWEVER showing the album to a friend the other day I found the poster folded neatly in the record album. The poster has been folded there for forty years I guess. The photo is by Ed Thrasher

  2. . I can’t find the poster listed in any of the Hendix posters. Like they say though “If you remember the sixties, you wasn’t there”. AMEN!

  3. Hello Jerry Day,
    With reference to the Ed Thraser Poster of Jimi Hendrix on horeback with Noel & Mitch.
    Can you tell me what album the poster came from?
    Do you no the value of this poster?
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Kind regards,
    David Kirk

  4. thank you for posting this. Its great to see my dad’s work kept alive by people like you who are such fans of his work. He was such a good guy and truly loved what he did, always remarking that he was so lucky to have this career. I was lucky as well to visit his office as a kid and meet some of the artists he worked with. RIP. Jeff Thrasher – Los Angeles

  5. Hey. Love the write up. I am doing some research on Ed and his artwork for Reprise and I’m wondering if you know any information about it, specifically who were his colleagues, where he worked and what his relationship was with the Reprise company before he started his own. I’m noticing on the back of a lot of the records there is a 3 letter scheme which is usually ELT, GAM and CSC. Do you know someone who would know what those initials mean? Thank you for your time. Drew

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