ELP - Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Background history by HR Giger

1973. Li and I were living together in the 3 year old apartment/ studio in Zurich-Oerlikon. I had just finished with the Passage paintings and was working with my new spray-gun on the Temple paintings. Through the intoxication of the music, mainly ELP, Miles Davis and Bowie, the triptych Landscapes was created, with the babies, skulls and phallus, the last of which was consequently involved in a year and a half long porno-suit controversy (1988), because it was sold to an American rock group (Dead Kennedy's) as a poster insert for their album.

This time period was my most productive and creative phase as a painter. It was then that I received the news, from my friend H.H. Kunz, and from Gustav Zumsteg, who was then the Swiss manager of ELP, that ELP was interested in having a record cover done by me and that the group would be playing in two days at the Hallen Stadion. On this occasion an expert opinion about the design could be given. This was already my second contract for an album cover, and I began with enthusiasm on the work.

The title of the album was supposed to be Whip Some Skull On Ya

Translated it means fellatio and the obvious thing was to combine lips, penis and skulls. The graphic artist for ELP had the idea that the cover should be able to be opened up like a gate; not a good idea, as would later become apparent when they were stacked. This same graphic artist wanted to decorate himself in false feathers, in that he replaced my name with his as design-creator on the album. I was, at the time, very
offended. I forgave him, however, since shortly thereafter he lost his life in an auto accident.

Back to the contract. Because I was, at this time, working on the aforementioned triptych, those elements flowed into the picture. The wished-for duplicate picture was created, as it were, overnight.

After the concert, Keith Emerson came with Zumsteg and Kunz. I was terribly excited, as I had never stood directly across from a pop-star, and the house, as it happened, was also full of people. Lake, Palmer and a photojournalist arrived later. I was ceremoniously showered with compliments on my work. Nevertheless, Keith suddenly informed me that the title of the album was now going to be Brain Salad Surgery. I was dismayed until he explained to me that this expression, likewise, connoted fellatio. After the group posed for the photographer, with the air of connoisseurs and meaningful gestures, the hubbub died down.

A part of the printing was, as wished, metallic, in contrast to the one received here in Switzerland. This one was possibly printed in a shop that specialized in pornography. There they have a tendency, for the embellishment of the thing, to apply too much red. The print came out "cow-shit-pile-brown."

H.R. Giger, 1991