There are tons of famous people on what might be the most famous album cover of pop music. Some of them you already know (Dylan, Marilyn Monroe, Karl Marx, etc), but for the longest time I had no idea who most of these people were.
There are plenty of lists throughout the internet that tell you who these people are, but I didn’t really find a list that explained why these people are famous or why the Beatles might have chosen them to put on their album cover. That’s where I come in.
Of course I don’t know any of the Beatles personally, so I can’t ask them why they chose all these people, but I can at least explain what these people did.
Thank you 94.5 Kool FM for providing this chart and the names.
1. Sri Yukteswar Giri
A famous Hindu guru. There are many Hindi gurus on this album cover, since this was during the Beatles’ India phase.
2. Aleister Crowley
An English occultist who founded the religion and/or philosophy of Thelema. Crowley believed that he was a prophet who would guide mankind into the Aeon of Horus, his form of Nirvana.
3. Mae West
An American actress and sex symbol. She was essentially the original Marilyn Monroe, even though she was born 33 years before Monroe and died 18 years after.
4. Lenny Bruce
The famous American comedian and social satirist whose posthumous pardon from a notorious obscenity trial was a landmark achievement for American freedom of speech.
5. Karlheinz Stockhausen
Groundbreaking German composer who helped popularize electronic music and aleatory in serial composition. He also composed music with helicopters.
6. W.C. Fields
American comedian who helped popularize the “lovable egotist” persona.
7. Carl Gustav Jung
Swiss psychiatrist who defined many well known psychological concepts, including the idea of extraverts and introverts.
8. Edgar Allen Poe
9. Fred Astaire
Arguably the greatest and most important American film dancer.
10. Richard Merkin
American painter and illustrator who had an eccentric personality and fashion sense, almost like an American Salvador Dali.
11. The Vargas girl
A famous pin-up illustration designed by the most famous pin-up artist, Peruvian painter Alberto Vargas.
12. Huntz Hall
American actor who was famous for his roles in the “Dead End Kids” and “Bowery Boys” movies from the late 30s till the early 50s.
13. Simon Rodia
The designer and builder of the Watts Towers.
14. Bob Dylan
15. Aubrey Beardsley
English illustrator who was influenced by Japanese woodcuts and was a major player of the Aesthetic movement along with Oscar Wilde. He’s one of my favorite illustrators – very dark but gorgeous illustrations with lots of attention to detail. Check out some of his work here.
16. Sir Robert Peel
British Prime Minister who served two terms in 1834-1835 and 1841-1846. He’s credited with creating the modern English police force and the “bobbies”.
17. Aldous Huxley
Author of Brave New World, a book that you should read.
18. Dylan Thomas
Welsh poet from whom Bob Dylan got his last name.
19. Terry Southern
American Beat writer who co-wrote the script for Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider.
American singer-songwriter who was a popular rock & roll performer before the British Invasion.
21. Tony Curtis
American actor who in many popular films including Some Like It Hot. Father to Jamie Lee Curtis.
22. Wallace Berman
American visual artist who pioneered the Assemblage form.
23. Tommy Handley
British comedian famous for his role in the BBC radio program ITMA (“It’s That Man Again”).
24. Marilyn Monroe
25. William S. Burroughs
Beat writer and author of Naked Lunch, a book you should (try to) read.
26. Sri Mahavatar Babaji
Indian saint who was also on the cover of George Harrison’s 1974 album Dark Horse.
27. Stan Laurel
English comic actor and one half of famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.
28. Richard Lindner
German-American painter known for his abstract urban paintings.
29. Oliver Hardy
The American half of Laurel and Hardy.
30. Karl Marx
Author of The Communist Manifesto and the father of Marxism.
31. H.G. Wells
English science fiction author who wrote The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.
32. Sri Paramhansa Yogananda
Indian guru who wrote Autobiography of a Yogi, which introduced the idea of meditation to mass Western culture.
33. Stuart Sutcliffe
The original Beatles’ bassist who helped come up with the band’s name (Sutcliffe and Lennon came up with the “Beetles”, but Lennon later changed the spelling to “Beatles” to match the word “Beat”).
34. “Petty Girl”
A design of a pin-up girl by George Petty. These are the images that you think of when you see women on fighter planes.
35. Max Miller
Famous British comedian known as “The Cheeky Chappie”.
36. Another “Petty Girl” by George Petty
37. Marlon Brando
American actor who starred in On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Apocalypse Now. He was also Vito Corleone. Do you need more?
38. Tom Mix
American actor who helped define western films and was one of the first major cowboy actors.
39. Oscar Wilde
Irish author and playwright most famous for The Picture of Dorian Gray.
40. Tyrone Power
American film and stage actor who played many popular swashbuckler and romantic leads.
41. Larry Bell
American abstract artist and sculptor.
42. David Livingstone
Scottish missionary and explorer who traveled extensively throughout Africa.
43. Johnny Weissmuller
American swimmer who won several Olympic gold medals and who played Tarzan in the 30s and 40s film versions.
44. Stephen Crane
American author who wrote The Red Badge of Courage.
45. Issy Bonn
British actor and comedian most famous for “My Yiddishe Momme”
46. George Bernard Shaw
Irish playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics.
47. Albert Stubbins
English footballer who won the League Championship for Liverpool in 1947.
48. H.C. Westermann
American abstract printmaker and sculptor.
49. Sri Lahiri Mahasaya
Indian yogi who was one of the few Indian holy men who was also married and worked as an accountant for the British Indian government.
50. Lewis Caroll
English writer most famous for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.
51. Sonny Liston
American professional boxer who became the World Heavyweight Champion in 1962 but then was beaten by Muhammad Ali in that one photo you know.
52 – 55. Wax figure of The Beatles
George, John, Ringo, and Paul.
56. Shirley Temple (1st)
American actress known for her early roles as a child. She would later become the United States Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
57. Marlene Dietrich
Famous German-American actress who was a high-profile WWII frontline entertainer. Supposedly Madeline Kahn from Blazing Saddles was based on Dietrich.
58. Diana Dors
English actress who was pinned as the English Marilyn Monroe.
59. Shirley Temple (2nd)
60. Bobby Breen
Canadian singer and child star from the 30s.
61. T.E. Lawrence
The Lawrence of Arabia.
Other interesting things in the album cover:
-The other famous people on this album cover include James Joyce (right under Bob Dylan) and Bette Davis (right above George Harrison’s shoulder)
-Shirley Temple is actually on this album for a third time a cloth doll wearing a sweater that reads “Welcome The Rolling Stones Good Guys”
-Other random things found on the album cover include a stone figure of Snow White, a garden gnome, a doll of the Hindu goddess Lakeshmi, a Fukusuke figure, and more.
-Apparently some people who were originally planned to be on the cover but were excluded include Leo Gorcey, Gandhi, Jesus Christ, Adolf Hitler, and Timothy Carey.
-I triple checked to make sure this list is accurate, but if I messed up anything let me know via Twitter @BradyWGerber
Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber