Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: The history of the picture disc

Now that vinyl is a big deal again, you may run across something known as a “picture disc”—a 12″ LP that has a picture delicately spray-painted or laser-etched over the grooves in the vinyl.  Picture discs were all the rage for a number of years back in the early- and mid-80s.  The Talking Heads, the Stranglers, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees—all made a few extra bucks by issuing limited-edition picture discs. 

But here’s a really weird bit of trivia.  Would you care to guess who released the very first picture disc?  You won’t believe it.  The year was 1934—and that’s when Adolph Hitler released a series of Nazi speeches on a flat shellac disc, which featured a picture of him and a large crowd.  It was history’s first picture disc.

Yesterday’s Ongoing History Daily post delved into the Beastie Boys.

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 38319 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Ongoing History Daily: The history of the picture disc

  • Dear Alan
    Herr Hitler may have been the first politician to release a picture disc for all I know, but 1934 isn’t the year the very first picture disc appeared. The first trials were already made in the 1920’s. These are ultra rare of course, since turntables were expensive, shellac records were expensive and picture discs even more. While Hitler’s disc must have been widely distributed, they can’t all have been destroyed by blockbusters and post war anger….


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.