On this day in music history: August 8, 1969 - The Beatles take the cover photo for their eleventh studio album “Abbey Road”. While recording the album, the band are trying to decide what to title their latest work in progress, as well as what to put on the cover. Finally the decision is made to pose for the album cover photo in the zebra crossing right in front of the EMI recording studio on Abbey Road. Paul McCartney draws a rough sketches with ideas of how the photos should look. A photo shoot is quickly organized and photographer Iain McMillan is hired for the job. On the morning of the 8th, prior to beginning a recording session scheduled for 2:30 that afternoon (the band are recording overdubs for “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “The End” and “Oh! Darling” that day), McMillian stands on a step stool in the middle of the street, while a policeman holds up traffic as the photos are taken. The Beatles cross the road twice while McMillan takes six pictures, with the photo shoot lasting only ten minutes. McCartney looks over transparencies of the pictures taken and select the shot used for the cover. The final image features the one shot taken after Paul takes his sandals off (which is interpreted as a subliminal clue by Beatles fans in the whole “Paul Is Dead” death hoax that erupts after the albums’ release). The cover photo is misinterpreted by some as being a funeral procession, with John as the minister, Ringo as a pall bearer, Paul as the deceased and George as a grave digger. The album cover becomes a pop cultural icon, and one of the most imitated and parodied images of all time.
According to Storm Thorgerson, Pink Floyd’s graphic designer, who also made the cover photo of David Gilmour’s 1984 solo album “About Face”, they have struggled to shoot a good photo of Gilmour for this album because on every photo he tried to look like a super-star and be cool, which is why the photos turned out too pathetic and uninteresting. When it was declared that the photo-session is over, Gilmour first asked for the location of the restroom, and that’s when the cover photo was taken.