Music History

HR Giger: A Musical Appreciation

You may have heard that Swiss artist HR Giger passed away this week.  While most people know him as the guy who designed the alien in all the Aliens movies (as well as some of the other other-worldly material for the sets), he’s known to others as a guy who created some amazing album artwork.

Like this:  Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery from 1973.

ELP - Brain Salad Surgery


The crazy Koo Koo cover of Deborah Harry’s solo album from 1981.

Deboarh Harry - Koo Koo

When Steve Stevens (Billy Idol’s guitarist) released a solo album in 1989, Giger did the artwork.

Steve Stevens - Atomic Playboys


Giger also worked with metal bands like Carcass, Sacrosanct, Atrocity, Celtic Frost and Pankow.  He also did one for Danzig.

Danzig III - How Gods Kill

But his most infamous bit of album artwork of all wasn’t anything that adorned a cover.  It was a poster inside the Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist album from 1985 officially known as “Word 219: Landscape XX.” Others call it “Penis Landscape.”

Dead Kennedys - Giger Frankenchrist poster

When a teenage girl brought home this album in December 1985 and her mom found the poster, it was the start of a PMRC shitstorm.  The obscenity trial that followed took almost two years to wind its way through the courts before it was dismissed.

I highly recommend that you listen to Jello tell the whole story of the trial. It’s VERY entertaining.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37811 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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