Classic Covers: Craig Braun

He created The Velvet Underground’s iconic banana sleeve and co-created The Rolling Stones’ infamous logo, but that’s just the start of Craig Braun’s catalogue of iconic album sleeve designs. Here are seven of his most famous designs
The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
Sticky Fingers
The Rolling Stones

“I realised the vinyl needed an additional panel to fold under the front, to protect the vinyl from the back of the zipper. The pull at the top of the zipper we shipped to the pressing plants was damaging [the record],” Craig explains. “All of the records were coming back, investment was huge; the loss would be enormous. I stayed up all night brainstorming a solution: we had to get them to pull the zippers down slightly so as not to damage the vinyl, which worked.”

School’s Out
Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper - School's Out“I think this caught people off guard, as it opens into a real desk with legs, inkwell, pencil grooves, etc,” says Craig. “I carved initials and stuff in the wood of an antique desk I had someone source in downtown NYC and then my staff put boogers and chewing gum on there. Then I wrapped the record in a pair of women’s panties over the vinyl. A woman gave me a pair of her undies, so I thought they might look great wrapped around the vinyl: the album ‘wearing’ panties.”

Cheech & Chong

In its full-sized glory, with giant rolling-paper inserts, this is another masterpiece. “When I put the comp together, originally it was for The Stones,” recalls Craig. “But Cheech & Chong’s first album sold two-and-a-half million copies and this was their follow-up. So I went to Lou Adler and said, ‘I’ve got an idea that will sell this without a record in it, because the kids will want this package. We had to create special dye-cutting and glueing… The laughs were minimal on that album,
but the sleeve worked out pretty great.” 

The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground & Nico

“Andy wanted the meat of the banana on the album with the skin over the top and nobody did pressure-sensitive labels like that,” says Craig. “I found a label-stock company who could make a removable pressure-sensitive adhesive/reappliable skin that would allow it to be peeled back, then reapplied. I said, ‘Let’s leave the cover white with just the banana stamp on it’. I made it look like a silk screen, which
was Andy’s thing.”

E Pluribus Funk
Grand Funk Railroad
E Pluribus Funk – Grand Funk Railroad

“This was a pain, due to their manager, Terry Knight,” remembers Craig. “He was a marketing genius, but a huge pain in the ass. It’s an incredible, round package.
For that silver-coin overlay, I had a coin guy do this,
as I wanted it done in proper numismatic dimensions.
It’s all embossed in relief, too.”

Tommy: as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
& Chamber Choir
The Who

Tommy – The Who

“This was Tommy, performed as a real opera,” says Craig. “This sleeve is special to me, as I created it with my dear friend and colleague, album designer Tom Wilkes. We joined forces (becoming Wilkes & Braun). We had illustrations of the  guest musicians. We did a complete package for this and a libretto, and that’s my favourite package of all. We won Best Album Package at the Grammys in 1974 for this.”

Barry White
Stone Gon’

Barry White – Stone Gon'“I suggested we do a giant ‘love’ greeting card for this and Barry loved the idea,” Craig recalls. “I hired Norman Seeff, the very talented South African photographer. We rented the 2001: Space… set from MGM, rented a white grand piano and we did the shoot. He wanted his girlfriend in the picture… I replied, ‘We want to sell this album to women’. My compromise was to include a bit of her arm and hand resting on the piano! It took two months to get him to write the love poem inside the card.”

Click here to read our interview with Craig Braun, and the full story behind The Rolling Stones’ lips logo