Colleagues remember ‘blunt, bullish but kind’ Pink Floyd designer Storm Thorgerson
PUBLISHED: 14:12 30 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:47 30 April 2013
His surreal album artwork for prog-rockers Pink Floyd is known to millions around the world.
But to those who worked with him Storm Thorgerson will be remembered as “blunt, stubborn but also incredibly caring and sweet”.
The designs of all but three of Pink Floyd’s album covers – his most famous being the prism on Dark Side of the Moon – were conceived in his Belsize Park studio, above Chez Bob bistro in Haverstock Hill.
It was here that a small team of designers and photographers worked with Thorgerson, 69, days before his death on April 18.
He was diagnosed with cancer six years ago having suffered a stroke in 2003.
Fellow designer Peter Curzon met Thorgerson in 1986 when he was working for another agency and Thorgerson asked him to help with some drawings. By 1991, he had joined StormStudios full-time.
Mr Curzon said: “I knew about Pink Floyd but they weren’t really in my field of music, I was more into punk.
“Ironically, Storm never thought Dark Side of the Moon was one of his best pieces of work. He was actually really grumpy when he had to do it.
“With Storm it was all about the picture, not the logos. He took artists off the front of albums and made it more about the concept and ideas. He was the first to really do that.”
Photographing for album covers would take the team around the world but just as many shots were set up in their studio and around north London.
StormSudios was once Thorgerson’s flat in the 1960s. He later moved to live with his wife Barbie in West Hampstead and the flat became his full-time studio.
Thorgerson frequented the local shops and was regularly seen sitting outside enjoying a drink at Chez Bob, below the studio.
“He loved the Heath and all around here,” said Mr Curzon.
“If you go into any of these shops here, they’ll tell you about him.”
StormStudios has been left to the three remaining studio members, Mr Curzon, photographer Rupert Truman and designer Dan Abbott.
They will continue to design album covers and are currently working on one for Biffy Clyro.
Thorgerson’s other eye-catching album designs included the Andy Warhol-inspired cow on Pink Floyd’s album Atom Heart, while in more recent years StormStudios was given commissions by Muse and Audioslave. We’ve got a lot of projects on the go and a lot have come up in the last week,” said Mr Curzon. “Storm wanted us to carry on.
“Rupert told me over the phone that Storm had died. I got quite upset.
“Every time I email someone or talk about him I get emotional. We had daily contact and have been all over the world together and had so much fun. Every picture I look at I remember stories.
“He was blunt, bullish, stubborn but at the same time incredibly caring, loving and sweet and very creative.
“He was always on the go, always working and never wanted to be sitting doing nothing.
“That’s what kept him going especially through his stroke. He was very strong-willed.
“When you work with someone like that you have all these arguments but you love each other.”
Mr Curzon said the pair would look at the lyrics and listen to a rough recording of the songs and pick something out, however obscure, which would spark an idea.
Mr Abbott added: “The Dark Side of the Moon cover was very relevant to the album, the triangle being a symbol of power and the light shining through – Pink Floyd were famous for their light shows.
“These images are such a big part of his life, they identified him. This was all stuff that was going on in his head.”
A collection of Thorgerson and StormStudios’ work The Gathering Storm is published in July.
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