Our Top 10 David Bowie Albums Covers list looks back at an artist that showcased many different looks and characters throughout his entire career. David Bowie’s Album Cover art often represented the characters that he had molded that defined the music and concepts of those very albums. David Bowie’s first album was released in 1967 entitled David Bowie. His final album was released in 2016 entitled Blackstar. In between those two records, David Bowie released one of the most massive, deep, brilliant, and original bodies of works in classic rock history.
This article focuses only on ten of the best album covers that graced those great David Bowie Records. There were many to choose from. David Bowie has released close to a hundred albums when combing all his studio, live, and compilation recordings. We narrowed it down to just choosing from his studio albums which counted less than thirty. We focused on the ones we thought were the most iconic and had become ingrained in pop culture.
# 10 – Young Americans
We open up our Top 10 David Bowie Album Covers list with the very cool album cover that represented his Young Americans album. The great David Bowie album Young Americans was released in 1975. It was not a soul album as many writers have argued. Young Americans was simply a David Bowie album inspired by American soul music and R&B. There is a difference. The album cover photo was shot by Eric Stephen Jacobs. The design of the cover was completed by Craig DeCamps. The concept was clearly designed to distance himself from his glam days. It worked beautifully.
# 9 – Earthling
David Bowie’s Earthling album was released in 1997. The Earthling album’s cover design was a true example of contrasts in imagery. A beautiful blue sky, clear blue waters and green fields represent the wonders and joys of nature that can be experienced by all Earthlings. The contrasts are in the colors of nature as opposed to David Bowie’s futuristic outfit as he stares across the Earth’s grand beauty. Exactly what’s on his mind is open to interpretation. That is art!
# 8 – Hours
Amazing graphic design, brilliant imagery and Bowie’s penchant for acting multiple parts within one all grace the cover of David Bowie’s Hours album. On the cover we see an older Bowie being comforted by a much younger Bowie. The design of the album cover was created by American graphic designer Rex Ray. The photos were shot by Tim Bret Day and Frank Ockenfels. The CD was released in 1999. Some of the initial CD covers contained a spectacular lenticular cover.
# 6 – Scary Monsters
Scary Monsters was a real gem of a David Bowie album that stands as one of his most underrated works. David Bowie’s album cover for Scary Monsters depicted David Bowie dressed in a Pierrot costume that represented old Italian figures who performed the art of pantomime. The artwork was designed by Edward Bell with photography completed by Brian Duffy. The album’s full title was Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). The album was released in the Fall of 1980.
# 5 – Heroes
David Bowie’s Heroes album cover presents one of the singer’s most iconic photographs he has ever appeared in. The photo on the cover of the album was shot by Masayoshi Sukita. The pose and lighting were inspired by German artist Erich Heckel who was known for his painting entitled Roquairol. The same painting also inspired the album photo for Iggy Pop’s The Idiot album cover.
# 5 – Pin Ups
The second half of our top 10 David Bowie album covers list presents the five most iconic covers of David Bowie’s career. These album covers were turned into posters, displays and large print ads that dominated pop culture in the 1970s. Even if you were not a David Bowie fan, you could not help but run into the artwork of one of these albums in your travels.
The great album Pin Ups was released in 1973. The album cover has an interesting history. David Bowie is featured on the cover with 1960s pop culture icon and model Twiggy. The two were doing a shoot for Vogue Magazine. However, David Bowie was able to snag the photo to be used for his Pin Ups album of cover songs. Bowie had the power!
# 4 – Low
David Bowie’s Low album cover has always depicted a sort of haunting futuristic feeling to those who have stared at it for close to fifty years. Further fueling the album cover’s design was Bowie’s grand use of color in his album covers. David Bowie’s album covers have always blended so many aspects of photography, design, and the integration of colors between the text, the backdrops, and David Bowie himself. Low is a perfect example of all of that in a very simple way that has a great impact.
# 3 – The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust
Two summers ago I took a trip to London and went on this fascinating rock and roll tour. One of the stops on the tour was a look at the exact location in which David Bowie was photographed for the cover of his legendary The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album cover. On the outside wall hangs a plaque commemorating the legendary location for the album cover. What is even more interesting and actually simply mind-blowing is that the phone booth that David Bowie posed in for the band cover is still there in the alley behind the pub.
Below are pictures of that experience that I took during the summer of 2019. In our opinion, David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is his greatest artistic musical work. It’s a brilliant album that cemented his legacy as a genius. To stand in front of the steps that he stood on when shooting the album cover was an incredible experience that all rock fans at one time in their life should experience. More on that tour in another article.
# 2 – Aladdin Sane
The last two albums on our Top 10 David Bowie Albums covers list depict so brilliantly the characters Bowie would mold himself into on these great records. David Bowie’s character on the Aladdin Sane album cover was basically an extension of the Ziggy Stardust character from the previous album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. David Bowie described the character on the cover of the Aladdin Sane album as “Ziggy Goes to America.”
# 1 – Diamond Dogs
There was no doubt that David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album cover would be our choice for the best David Bowie album cover. Just look at that cover, it’s a work of absolute brilliance and defines an artist willing to push the limits as far as he could. The Diamond Dogs album was released in 1974. The album cover was a painting of a painting done by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert. David Bowie’s half-man, half-dog likeness caused much controversy because when the gatefold opened from front to back, it showed male genitalia. The album cover was quickly censored. Certain CD issues restored the original artwork.
Updated May 22, 2023
Top 10 David Bowie Album Covers article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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