Rolling Stones – Album Cover Proofs for Banned “Beggar’s Banquet” Toilet Album Cover (from Art Director Tom Wilkes’ Archive)
Possibly unique album cover proofs of the banned original album cover artwork for Beggar’s Banquet, the Rolling Stones 1968 masterpiece. These front and back cover proofs came from the portfolio of legendary art director Tom Wilkes, who with writer Michael Vosse, photographer Barry Feinstein, and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger created the artwork.
Wilkes, Vosse and Feinstein, collectively known as The Corporate Head, brought Jagger and Richards to the bathroom of Wilkes’ Hollywood Porsche mechanic to ‘decorate’ the walls for the album cover shoot. The Stones loved the cover, but their UK record company, Decca, refused to issue it. After months of arguing, the Stones relented and a simple “invitation” cover was designed to avoid missing the all-important Christmas season.
These proofs were made for the 1968 U.S. release on London Records and feature the catalog number PS 539. A few sets would have been made for Wilkes, the Stones, and London Records executives to approve, before album covers were manufactured. This set was carefully preserved by Tom Wilkes and used in his “portfolio”, a large book of his designs shown to potential new clients (the portfolio is pictured here, but not included).
Each measures 12 ¾” x 12 ¾”, larger than a final printed album cover, and shows more of the photograph than has previously been published, a bit more writing at the top of the front cover, the full toilet paper roll on the left, extra wall on the right, and more of the toilet seat at the bottom. Both are in excellent condition, each has a small bit of tape residue on the back from being attached to Wilkes’ portfolio pages.
In the 49 years since Beggars Banquet’s release, perhaps five authentic album cover proofs have surfaced, some for the US issue, some for the UK one. To our knowledge, all previous examples have been double-size slicks with the front and back on one sheet, printed on thin paper. These slightly larger individual front and back cover proofs, printed on light card stock, are as far as we can determine unique. They are in far better condition than any Beggars Banquet proof we know of.
A true museum quality collectible, with impeccable provenance, coming directly from the legendary art director Tom Wilkes’s portfolio. With a letter from the purchaser of Wilkes’ archive, and Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.
(Note: in the early 1970’s counterfeit proofs were made. They are easily distinguished, being slightly smaller than an actual gatefold album cover, and printed on thick-ish card stock).
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