Features

Behind The Covers

Photographer Guy Webster shares the stories and the outtakes behind his iconic album cover shots

 

You may not know Guy Webster’s name, but you certainly know his work. Although he’s taken renowned photographs of everyone from Bill Clinton to Jack Nicholson to Truman Capote to Igor Stravinsky, the shots for which he’s likely best known are the ones that were immortalized as some of the most iconic album covers of all time. Scroll down to see those covers, their source photos and the outtakes that almost made the cut, while Webster himself reveals the stories behind the shots.

 

For more on Webster, check out his recent book, Big Shots (in which all the shots below can be found), his website (where you can buy prints) and his current exhibition, hosting its opening ceremony this Saturday February 28 (at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, CA).

 

 

The Mamas & the Papas – If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

The cover you’ve seen:

The Mamas and the Papas, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The behind-the-scenes photo you haven’t seen:

The Mamas and the Papas, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside story: We were all stoned! We couldn’t leave the house and none of us could walk. So I put them in the bathroom next to the living room in their house in Laurel Canyon. We did not know you could not put a toilet on the cover so we had to sticker it for the single, “California Dreamin,’” which  went to Number One and we all became famous. I never stopped working after that album cover…still working to this day.


 

The Mamas & the Papas – Deliver

The cover you’ve seen:

The Mamas and the Papas, The Mamas and the Papas Deliver, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The behind-the-scenes photo you haven’t seen:

The Mamas and the Papas, The Mamas and the Papas Deliver, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside story: I knew they were going to break up soon and was so lucky to get them in the pool together! We shot in the evening in the pool at John and Michelle’s estate in Beverly Hills. I knew then the whole thing was going to blow up, which it did a few weeks later. This is one of my favorite covers.


 

The Rolling Stones – Aftermath

The cover you’ve seen:

The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones Aftermath, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The behind-the-scenes photo you haven’t seen:

The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones Aftermath, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside story: This is the album cover for the European and rest of the world [release] but not the cover for U.S. [release]. I shot them in my studio in Beverly Hills but when they printed it, they printed it backwards.


 

The Rolling Stones – Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)

The cover you’ve seen:

The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones Big Hits High Tides and Green Grass, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The behind-the-scenes photo you haven’t seen:

The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones Big Hits High Tides and Green Grass, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside story: Shot at my ex-girlfriend’s family ranch in Franklin Canyon, a reservoir through Beverly Hills that no one knows about. I wanted to take the Stones out of the gritty English city into the southern California landscape. Kids thought the title referred to grass but it didn’t!


 

The Rolling Stones – “Paint It, Black”

The cover you’ve seen:

The Rolling Stones, Paint It Black The Rolling Stones, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The behind-the-scenes photo you haven’t seen:

The Rolling Stones, Paint It Black The Rolling Stones, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside story: This was at the same shoot at Franklin Canyon and was used for the European release of the single—but I had no idea it was used as the single cover until much later.


 

Judy Collins – Wildflowers

The cover you’ve seen:

Judy Collins, Judy Collins Wildflowers, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The behind-the-scenes photo you haven’t seen:

Judy Collins, Judy Collins Wildflowers, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside story: Shot in Malibu in the spring when the mustard was blooming. Who did not have a crush on Judy with those blue eyes? “Judy Blue Eyes.” Loved her. We spent the day just doing photos. I also took moving pics of her that day as my model for a piece in West Magazine. Her song “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” is one of my favorite songs of all time.


 

Barry McGuire – Eve of Destruction

The cover you’ve seen:

Barry McGuire, Barry McGuire Eve of Destruction, Eve of Destruction, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The behind-the-scenes photo you haven’t seen:

Barry McGuire, Barry McGuire Eve of Destruction, Eve of Destruction, Guy Webster, Guy Webster Big Shots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside story: My first album cover for Dunhill Records. They had no money and couldn’t afford a color cover so we did it in black and white. It was very successful and started our company. Barry was actually coming out of a sewer hole behind my home in Beverly Hills.

 

 

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