10 Outta-Sight 60s Album Covers We Still Dig Today

Swing into the 1960s with these far-out 60s album covers.

Published April 15, 2024
Playing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band vinyl record by the Beatles

It’s the Age of Aquarius, and only the best in music will do. If you’re feeling particularly groovy, tune in, turn on, and drop out with us as we review ten of the most iconic 60s album covers to come out of the decade.

10 Outta-Sight 60s Album Covers

The 1960s was an electric decade of experimentation, both culturally and musically. There are so many important album covers from this decade that it’s hard to narrow it down. But we think these ten covers best represent the decade.

Etta James, At Last! (1960)

What better way to swing in the 1960s than with Etta James's debut album, At Last!? Released in 1960, this album introduced the world to her incredible vocal prowess in songs like “A Sunday Kind of Love” and “At Last.”

Her warm golden hair blends into the album cover’s mustard background, and her profile with dangling diamond earrings gives the viewer a sense of her refined style and character. It’s one of the last vestiges of the artist portrait cover shot that was so typical in the 1950s.

When you think of the 60s, bright psychedelic patterns come to mind. But you can’t forget that there were several years of glorious 60s style before it broke onto the scene. And Etta James’s debut album cover reminds us of that.

The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

The Velvet underground and Nico album cover produced by Andy Warhol

The Velvet Underground was an experimental and avant-garde rock group that defined fringe music in the mid-1960s. Managed by iconic pop art artist Andy Warhol, the group imbued multimedia sensibilities into their work. And it’s thanks to their manager that they have such a culturally significant debut album cover.  

One of Warhol’s works, an illustrated banana, appears on a white background. It’s simple and gives nothing away about the album’s sounds. But it was so of the time that it’s become a cultural touchstone of Warhol’s studio The Factory, and it’s one of the decade’s most-remembered album covers.

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the English rock band The Beatles

You can’t talk about album covers from the 1960s and not mention The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This concept album put concept albums on the map. All listeners needed to do was take one look at the album, and they’d be able to tell that this was something unlike The Beatles had ever put out before.

American Songwriter calls the cover “a Where’s Waldo [of] the 60s,” and they couldn’t be more on the money. The Fab Four stand in front of an inexplicable collection of peers and idols. It’s a mishmash of their inspirations, loves, and cheeky senses of humor. And who could blame them for having a little bit of fun after the whirlwind and deafening few years they’d spent screaming their songs to a void of teenage girls?

Related: 10 Most Valuable Beatles Albums and Records Worth Looking For

Cream, Disraeli Gears (1967)

The Cream vinyl record album cover Disraelei Gears from 1967

Before Eric Clapton was…. well, Eric Clapton… he was bouncing between various English bands. One of the most successful was Cream. Though they only lasted for three years, they left quite an impression on the music scene.

Their second album, called Disraeli Gears, has potentially the most psychedelic album cover of them all. It’s such a swirling onslaught of vibrant technicolor pinks, reds, yellows, oranges, and greens that you have to hold it inches from your face to make out any discernable images. But it’d be quite the trip to stare into while tuning in, turning on, and dropping out.

Nina Simone, Nina Simone Sings the Blues (1967)

There are few artists who can make you feel their anguish as if it’s yours through their voice alone. Nina Simone’s rich, deep voice cuts like a knife to your emotional core. And her album, Nina Simone Sings the Blues, has a cover that’s just as arresting.

Instead of a portrait shot, the cover features a blue-scale photograph of Simone’s eyes and forehead. She gazes sharply in the distance, and her focus draws you in. While the cover’s style and typeface scream mid-60s film poster, it’s that laser-focused look that clinched it for our list.

The Who, The Who Sell Out (1967)

The Who sell out band album

Few bands need as little of an introduction as The Who. Their third album called The Who Sell Out, takes the concept album to new heights. With commercials and PSAs interspersed through unrelated songs, it’s a lesson in marketable deviance.

The cover is wonderfully pop art and cheekily anti-commercial. On the cover, guitarist Pete Townsend applies a comically large stick of Odorono deodorant, and singer Roger Daltry bathes with a can of Heinz baked beans in a pool of baked beans.

What can we say? The 1960s was a delightfully weird time.

Big Brother & The Holding Company, Cheap Thrills (1968)

One of the most controversial 60s album covers is Big Brother & The Holding Company’s 1968 LP Cheap Thrills. Cartoonist Robert Crumb designed the raunchy and explicit cover per the San Francisco band’s request.

The cover is littered with comic panels, one for each of the songs and the band members. It was deliberately taboo, racist depictions and all. But it embodies the boundary-pushing sentiments of the decade so well.

Related: 8 Valuable Records From the 60s You Might Already Own

The Lovin’ Spoonful, Revelation: Revolution ’69 (1968)

The Lovin' Spoonful Revelation Revolution '69 Vinyl LP Record

The Lovin’ Spoonful isn’t a 60s band that many people remember, but they had enough hits to be a frequent feature on your regular dad rock radio station. But, their final studio album, Revelation: Revolution ’69, released in 1968, shows off the late-60s free love vibe better than others.

On the album’s cover, a naked woman and man race in a lush green wilderness. A lion covers their nakedness, and it’s this play on Biblical symbolism (Adam & Eve and God) that makes it textually very interesting. It’s not just an image of two naked people. It’s an ingenious subversion of America’s puritanism.

MC5, Kick Out the Jams (1969)

MC5’s debut live album, Kick Out the Jams, wasn’t critically acclaimed or particularly understood in 1969. A precursor to the punk scene and just as rowdy, this recording was full of revolutionary fervor, and many peace lovers didn’t know what to do with it.

But today, we can appreciate both the album and the photomontage album cover. Pictures of the band members, disjointed American flags, and crowds of people overlay each other in varying translucence. It looks like what being uninhibited feels like. And it’s incredible that they were able to represent a feeling in something so tangible.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Green River (1969)

The last album on our list rounds out the swinging 60s. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Green River represents the coming shift away from psychedelia and into different forms of rock. In CCR’s neck of the woods, it’d be southern rock.

On the cover, you can see the band members in a bright, wooded area. though they’re mostly obscured by the towering flora, save the light shining through the leaves. The tonal shift (warm earthy tones) and dressed-down style (causal denim and button-downs) hint at where music and culture were heading.

With this album cover, you can tell that the 60s didn’t go out with a bang so much as a slow march.

Time to Let the Sunshine In

Whether you love the girl groups and vocal harmonies of the early 1960s or prefer the experimental sounds of psychedelic rock, there are so many great records for you to enjoy. So, grab your daisy chains and join the love-in because we’re queuing up these records and letting the sunshine in.

10 Outta-Sight 60s Album Covers We Still Dig Today