Artwork for one of the most famous album covers – the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed – is expected to fetch up to £40,000 at auction next month.Keith Richards commissioned his friend, the graphic designer Robert Brownjohn, to create the sleeve images for the 1969 album.
The front cover features a surreal sculpture created by Brownjohn comprising the Let It Bleed LP apparently being played with an old-style record arm. Stacked above the record on an automatic changer spindle are a dinner plate, a tape or film reel canister, a clock face, a pizza and a tyre. These objects are topped with a cake and models representing the band members. The cake was made by the then little-known chef Delia Smith, who was instructed by Brownjohn to bake the gaudiest cake she could.
The back cover was the same stack, but now in disarray as if in the aftermath of a wild party. Brownjohn’s design was inspired by the working title of the album, Automatic Changer. In the days before CDs and MP3s music fans used to stack up a number of records onan automatic changer spindle ready to drop down and play in sequence. Stephanie Connell, head of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, which is selling the artwork, said it was an “iconic design”. “We expect there to be a lot of interest from Stones fans around the globe,” she said.
The lot includes two felt-tip pen concept sketches on envelopes, together with two colour positives and two colour negatives of the final front and back covers, a US pressing of the album and a photo of Richards and Mick Jagger checking the cover proofs. Bonhams is auctioning the images on 15 December at Knightsbridge, London. Here is the track listing for the album.
- “Gimme Shelter”
- “Love in Vain” (Robert Johnson†)
- “Country Honk”
- “Live with Me”
- “Let It Bleed”
- “Midnight Ramble
- “You Got the Silver”
- “Monkey Man”
- “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”