RIP: John Berg (1932–2015)

The art director behind some of music's most iconic album covers passed away on Sunday.

By necessity, John Berg‘s name is obscure. As the in-house art director for Columbia Records (then creative director, then vice president) from 1961 to 1985, he was responsible for the creation of dozens upon dozens of classic album covers—an art form meant to promote the musician whose work it covers more than its own creator.

While at Columbia, Berg oversaw the creation of classic sleeves from Born to Run to Blonde on Blonde. He designed the band Chicago’s logo—the first-ever band logo, by his estimation—and commissioned Milton Glaser’s iconic swirled portrait of Bob Dylan that came with Dylan’s 1967 Greatest Hits package. He  was responsible for Miles Davis‘ Bitches Brew and Thelonious Monk’s Monk. It is safe to say that John Berg has more responsibility for the way the rock and roll era looks than any other single person.

Berg won four Grammys for his work—for Chicago’s X, Monk’s Underground, Dylan’s Greatest Hits, and The Barbra Streisand Album.

Berg passed away on Sunday in Southampton, NY, from pneumonia. He was eighty-three.

(via The New York Times)


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