Madman Across the Water

Cover of "Madman Across the Water"

Cover of Madman Across the Water

Madman across the water was a song Elton John recorded for his album Tumbleweed Connection…but it was set aside, later re-recorded and turned into the title song of his fourth album.  At the time of its release, Elton’s John’s album Madman across the water was not a big seller.  It did, however, hold some of his most popular songs…. including the title track, Razor Face and a fictitious song inspired by Levon Helms, co-founder of the band, a favorite of Elton and Bernie Taupin.   One of Elton’s most popular songs was also on the album…written about Bernie Taupin’s then girlfriend, Maxine.  She was a dancer who tagged along on their first tour of the US…as seamstress for the band. The first Madman album covers released were actually embroidered on old denim material but demand quickly replace the denim with embossed printing, then just flat print.

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Cars Candy-O Album Cover

Cover of "Candy-O"

Cover of Candy-O

Alberto Vargas was a Peruvian painter of pin-up girls. His work has been seen from Ziegfeld follies to Playboy and Esquire Magazines…with his original works selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. For the Cars second album entitled Candy-O…drummer David Robinson sought out pin-up girl artist Alberto Vargas to do the cover.  Robinson set up a photo shoot at a Beverly Hills Ferrari dealership to build a guide for Vargas.  Elektra Record hired model Candy Moore to be the pin-up girl.  Vargas, who was 80, went to a Cars concert.  He found the music to be not his type but he did enjoy the many girls in attendance. The Vargas Painting on the cover of Candy-O may not have been the reason the album went platinum in just 8 weeks…but it sure didn’t hurt sales.

Queen – Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera (Queen album)

A Night at the Opera (Queen album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One night while recording a new album, the band Queen took a break to watch a Marx Brothers Movie called A night at the Opera.   After watching it, Queen thought they would borrow the name for the title of their fourth album.  An album that eventually became one of the most expensive albums ever recorded.  It held songs from each of the bands members…You’re my best friend was composed by bassist John Deacon while he was learning to play the piano.  Im in love with my car was written by drummer Roger Taylor.  The song 39 was guitarist Brian Mays attempt at science fiction skiffle…about a group of space explorers in the year 1939.  And of course, from freddy mercury, the song that became known by the band as Fred’s thing…the elaborate production titled at the last minute…Bohemian Rhapsody. …


Cover of "Grand Illusion"

Cover of Grand Illusion

They were a band from Chicago named after the mythical river Styx…In 1961, Twin brother, Chuck and John Ponozzo along with neighbor Dennis Deyoung started a band in south Chicago called The Tradewinds. Fast forward to the early 70’s…the Tradewinds are offered a recording contract with Wooden Nickel Records. The band decides to find a new name. Several Suggestion were made but according to Dennis Deyoung, Styx was the only one everyone could agree on. They release four albums on the wooden nickel label but only had a local Chicago following. With a move to A&M records and the re-release of the song Lady, Styx started to get some national attention. In 1975, guitarist Tommy Shaw joined the lineup. The Albums, Equinox, Crystal Ball, Grand Illusion, and Pieces of Eight, took Styx to the top of the 70’s charts. By the 80’s, Styx had carved out its own place in the world of rock superstars.

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Cheap Thrills

Big Brother obtained a considerable amount of attention after their 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival and had released their debut album soon after. The album was a great success, hitting number one on the charts for 8 nonconsecutive weeks in 1968. Columbia Records offered the band a new recording contract, but it took months to get through since they were still signed to Mainstream Records. The album features three cover songs (“Summertime”, “Piece of My Heart” and “Ball and Chain”). The album also features Bill Graham, who introduces the band at the beginning of “Combination of the Two”. “Ball and Chain” is the only song on the album recorded entirely live, and even though the cover credits assert that the live material was recorded at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium, it was actually taken from a concert at the Winterland Ballroom in 1968.

The cover was drawn by Robert Crumb after the band’s original cover idea, a picture of the group naked in bed together, was dropped by the record company. Crumb had originally intended his art for the LP back cover, with a portrait of Joplin to grace the front. But Joplin—an avid fan of underground comics, especially the work of Crumb—so loved the Cheap Thrills illustration that she demanded Columbia Records place it on the front cover. It is number nine on Rolling Stone’s list of one hundred greatest album covers.

Easy Rider

Easy Rider Album Cover

Peter Fonda wanted Bob Dylan to write the theme song to the film East Rider. Dylan declined but quickly wrote the following words on a napkin: ” THE RIVER FLOWS, IT FLOWS TO THE SEA, WHEREVER THAT RIVER GOES, THAT’S WHERE I WANT TO BE, FLOW RIVER FLOW” He handed Fonda the napkin and said: Give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it.” When Dylan found out he was credited as a co-writer he telephoned McGuinn and demanded that his name be removed from the song. You can hear stories like this, and hear the music to which they refer, at On your mobile device via The TuneIn app, search for Deep End. On I-Tunes in the classic rock category of I-Tunes radio look for Deep End Radio. Or on your computer at