The Who Sell Out – The Story Behind The Sleeve

The cover of this 1967 concept album was designed by David King and Roger Law and shot by New York photographer David Montgomery. Divided into panels, its front features Pete Townshend applying a giant stick of imaginary deodorant brand Odorono and Roger Daltrey sitting back to enjoy a bath filled with baked beans, referencing the track Heinz Baked Beans. The reverse of the sleeve depicts Keith Moon brandishing an oversized tube of Medac acne ointment and a Charles Atlas bodybuilding course-endorsing John Entwistle resplendent in leopard print, with a bikini-clad friend and teddy bear.

Daltrey later claimed to have developed pneumonia after being submerged semi-naked in the cold beans. Reminiscing about the 1967 photoshoot, he said: “[afterwards] I ended up with a week in bed with either the flu or probably the worst cold that I’ve had in my lifetime and I put it down to the baked beans because they’d just come out of the fridge; they were freezing cold!”

“I sat in them for twenty minutes until they had the great idea of putting electric fire round the back of the bathtub I was sitting in, which worked for a while.  It started to heat them up but then they started to cook. So my arse was roasting while my front was freezing and within 24 hours I was in bed with the sniffles. I don’t blame the beans, I blame the electric fire.”

International legal red tape meant that, in Canada, John Entwistle referred to ‘Isometrics’ instead of Charles Atlas, while Keith Moon’s Medac was replaced by Clearasil. The album, featuring pastiches of advertising jingles, reached only No. 13 in the UK charts and barely registered in the US. The first 500 copies pressed in the UK by Track Record came with a ‘psychedelic’ poster, and these now change hands for up to £450.