10 Musical Albums Whose Cover Art Sparked A Lot Of Controversy

A good album is best remembered for the timelessness of its songs.

But some boast of album art that is as exceptional as the music. But where there’s art there’s controversy – which means there have been some music albums whose cover art pushed the envelope just a bit too far.

#1 Diamond Dogs, David Bowie


David Bowie’s album featured an interesting sleeve which was supposed to represent his version of a post-apocalyptic world. Unfortunately, this involved the singer showcasing his half-human half-dog form, complete with the dog’s naughty bits.

The doggy genitalia was airbrushed away when the album was reinstated.

#2 Holy Diver, Dio


The band’s demonic mascot – adorably named Murray, has made an appearance on many of the band’s album sleeves. However, Holy Diver pushed quite a few buttons with its depiction of a chained and drowning priest.

#3 Yesterday and Today, The Beatles


Back when the Beatles were in between their teen-friendly and “artistic” phase, they released this album featuring a sleeve that was quite scandalous for the time.

Decked out in sterile white and covered in dismembered doll parts and raw meat – the band sat happily on the cover surrounded by gore. Despite The Beatles themselves being fans, Capitol records received a lot of complaints and eventually pulled it back.

Now the album with the original sleeve is a collector’s piece that often sells for thousands online.

#4 Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, Sex Pistols



So, sidestepping any image related controversy – the Sex Pistols embraced the possible public outrage by emblazoning their bright yellow and pink album art with the word “Bollocks”.

A record retailer was actually arrested for displaying the album prominently in his shop window, leading to a court case where charges were ultimately dropped against him and Virgin Records.

#5 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West


To be fair, West requested artist George Condo to create album art that would definitely be banned.

Which is probably how he came up with Kanye West being straddled by a white female figure with wings instead of arms. When it was inevitably rejected, Kanye substituted it with a picture of a ballerina.

#6 Holy Wood, Marilyn Manson


Never having been one for subtlety, Marilyn Manson went all out for this one posing as Jesus on the crucifix but with his jaw hanging off.

The album art proved too provocative resulting in outright bans from retailers Walmart and K Mart.

#7 Virgin Killer, Scorpions


A nude pre-pubescent girl on an album cover never sounds like a good idea.

But the Scorpions claimed it was meant to represent time as a killer of innocence, an interpretation that was lost on many. The album was never recalled but many places sold it with a black plastic seal, hiding the cover art form view entirely.

#8 Love It To Death, Alice Cooper


More mildly funny than outright, Alice Cooper tried to sneak in some grade school humour bu putting on a cape and sticking his finger out so it kind of looked like his penis was on the cover.

Whether or not that’s enough to amuse audiences now, back when the album was released, the record label wasn’t having it and airbrushed the entirety of Cooper’s arm out.

#9 Street Survivors, Lynyrd Skynyrd


The band’s fifth studio album hit the shelves on the 17th of October, 1977. Three days later, a plane crash claimed the lives of three of the band’s members.

As a result, the photo of the band members standing amidst flames seemed tasteless and the art was replaced with the photo of the band in front of a plain black background.

#10 Far Beyond Driven, Pantera


A drill was up an anus on this album cover. Shockingly, people weren’t too okay with it.

Thankfully, the album art was replaced with the soothing image of a drill boring into someone’s forehead.

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