Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Gilded Palace Of Sin

Along with Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons invented country-rock. After Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Parsons and Hillman left the Byrds and formed the Flying Burrito Brothers. Their debut album The Gilded Palace Of Sin has a great title and a fine cover. The story behind the cover is just as good as the artwork itself:

The album cover features the band in Nudie suits. Parsons had taken the band to designer Nudie Cohn to have custom sequin suits made for all the band members especially for the photo shoot, but Parsons’ was most unusual, featuring a naked woman (rendered as an old-school sailor’s tattoo on each lapel), red poppies on the shoulders, deep-green marijuana leaves on the front, and embroidered Seconal and Tuinal pills scattered elsewhere. Paradoxically, Parsons asked that a flaming red cross surrounded by radiating shafts of blue and gold light cover the back of the jacket. The suit now hangs in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tom Wilkes, who was the head of the art department at A&M at the time, explained to director Gandulf Hennig in 2004, “We decided to take them out to the desert and do something kind of surreal with the Nudie suits. And they looked great anyway. They looked funky and kind of country western and kind of rock. I felt that look was great. They didn’t really need the Nudie suits.” The album cover was shot by Barry Feinstein.

After the build-up, here are the  front and back covers:

Finally,  here’s the whole damn album:

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