Over five decades, Eagles sold more than 150 million records worldwide, winning six Grammy Awards and five American Music Awards, and their Greatest Hits compilation was the biggest-selling album of the 20th century. Their albums featured amazing, striking artwork and photography. Here we guide you through the ten best Eagles album covers.
10: ‘Live From The Forum MMXVIII’ (2020)
In 2018, Eagles played three nights at The Forum, a groundbreaking indoor arena in Inglewood, California, that had once been home to the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. Eagles were there to record a live album and concert film, later released in October 2020. For the sleeve, art directors Jeri Heiden and Ryan Corey decided to use an image of the stadium, with the band’s name emblazoned on architect Charles Luckman’s building. Both were experienced graphic designers: Corey had been art director for Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy album and Heiden had worked with numerous musicians, including kd lang. “Her approach to graphics is almost scientific,” said lang. “She was vice-president of Warner Bros’ creative department when she was still in her 20s. She is a pretty good singer, too.” Live From The Forum MMXVIII was the first Eagles album to feature new band members Deacon Frey (song of Glenn) and Vince Gill, alongside Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B Schmit.
Art directors: Jeri Heiden and Ryan Corey
9: ‘The Long Run’ (1979)
The late 70s were a difficult time for Eagles. Their Irving Azoff, whom the band joked had the job of keeping them out of prison, has talked openly about their “debauched” lifestyles. The artwork for their 1979 album, The Long Run, an unadorned design by John Kosh – usually known simply as Kosh – featuring four words in white on a black background, is unusual among Eagles album covers and reflected the band’s dark mood at the time. “We were physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively exhausted,” Don Henley told Rolling Stone magazine in 2016. The original vinyl pressings of The Long Run continued the band’s long-running in-joke of having text engraved in the run-out grooves of each side (“Never let your monster lay down” was on Side One). Producer Bill Szymczyk appears in a photograph on the back cover. He is posed behind a soundboard with a note saying “Hi Mom”, in a snap taken by Jann Zlotkin. The photographs of band members Henley, Schmit, Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh on the inside of the gatefold sleeve were taken by Manhattan-born photographer Jim Shea.
Photographers: Jim Shea, Jann Zlotkin | Designer: John Kosh
8: ‘Eagles Live’ (1980)
The double-vinyl Eagles Live, released in November 1980 as Eagles’ first live record, came at time when the band were already in the process of breaking up. Standing out among Eagles’ album covers, the artwork hinted at both closure and problems, with the image of a flight case bearing the number “86” on both sides (if something is “86’ed”, it is no longer available) and the letters “MIA” (“missing in action”) on the rear, in the style of an air-freight sticker. The record labels showed a picture of a bird’s nest filled with eggs and hand grenades. The artwork was created by Kosh – a graphic designer from London who made his name with work for the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera House before becoming creative director of The Beatles’ 1969 album, Abbey Road. The cover photograph was taken by Aaron Rapoport, who also shot the front image for the Supertramp album Breakfast In America.
Photographers: Aaron Rapoport, Henry Diltz, Jeffrey Mayer, Brad Elterman, Rick Diamond, Dave Harpie | Designer: John Kosh
7: ‘Eagles’ (1972)
The artwork for Eagles’ eponymous debut album was created by Gary Burden and initially intended to be a gatefold design. The photograph for the cover was taken at California’s Joshua Tree National Monument, where the band met to take part in a peyote ritual – which involves ingesting peyote cactus to induce an altered state of consciousness. “There was a lot of laughter and a sense of camaraderie,” Henley said in 2016. “It was on one of those trips that Glenn Frey saw a huge eagle fly right over him at a relatively low altitude. Naturally, we took it as a sign.” Burden’s firm, R Twerk & Co, was credited in the liner notes of this earliest entry among the best Eagles album covers.
Photographer: Henry Diltz | Designer: Gary Burden
6: ‘Long Road Out Of Eden’ (2007)
The cover of 2007’s Long Road Out Of Eden, like the photo that adorned their 1972 debut album, was shot in the California desert, with band members photographed for the rear sleeve, in a setting just outside of Los Angeles, by 39-year-old German Olaf Heine. The front image, which features a lovely image of the sun setting over empty dunes, was chosen by Jeri Heiden, who was in charge of art direction and design for the album. “What you have to think about as a designer for music is the iconic image,” she said in 2015. “That’s something we can only know historically. If you become really famous and you make amazing music, I can guarantee you your covers will be classics.” The liner notes credited Nick Steinhardt for the “logo”.
Photographer: Olaf Heine | Designer: Jeri Heiden
5: ‘Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975’ (1976)
There were ten of the best Eagles songs on Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 – Take It Easy, Witchy Woman, Lyin’ Eyes, Already Gone, Desperado, One Of These Nights, Tequila Sunrise, Take It To The Limit, Peaceful Easy Feeling and Best Of My Love – which helped it become the best-selling album of the 20th century. It also meant that the iconic sleeve, with art direction credited to both Boyd Elder and Glen Christensen, was in the homes of millions of people around the world, making it one of the best-known Eagles album covers. Elder, who studied painting and sculpture in Los Angeles at the Chouinard Art Institute, painted the plastic cast of an eagle skull for the cover, which was set against a light-blue background made of silver mylar. Elder was paid a flat fee of $5,000 for his work. The lettering on the album was credited to El Bwyd De Valentine MFS and Henry Diltz.
Photographer: Tom Kelley, Jr | Art directors: Boyd Elder, Glen Christensen
4: ‘On The Border’ (1972)
On The Border, which was eventually certified double-platinum with sales of more than two million copies, featured a striking cover illustration by renowned Navajo artist Beatien Yazz, and a typeface created especially for the album by Rick Griffin.
Yazz’s painting had been bought at a yard sale by Gary Burden, for a quarter of a dollar, and the art director felt it would fit one of his Eagles album covers. “I did not know it was an original painting or who the artist was. I just thought it was a beautiful thing,” he explained. “When it came time to create the artwork for On The Border, I pulled out this piece of art and everyone agreed that it would be perfect.
“When I tracked Yazz down,” Burden continued, “the best I could find was that he picked up his mail at a trading post on the Navajo reservation. The record company sent a sizable check to the artist, and we never heard if he got it or not. If so, it must have come as a surprise, money out of the blue. I always have felt good that millions of people who bought or saw this Eagles album cover, who never would have been exposed to this wonderful Navajo art otherwise, got to see it and hold it in their hands.”
Illustrator: Beatien Yazz | Photographer: Henry Diltz | Art director: Gary Burden
3: ‘Desperado’ (1973)
Desperado’s powerful artwork was in keeping with the cowboy theme of the album. Gary Burden drew the band as outlaws for the front cover, and photographer Henry Diltz, who also did the lettering for the sleeve, created a re-enactment of the capture of The Dalton Gang for the back image. The photograph shows all four Eagles, along with Jackson Browne and JD Souther, posing dead and bound on the ground as a posse stands over them. The posse included producer Glyn Johns (wearing a white hat), manager John Hartmann, road manager Tom Nixon, artists Burden and Boyd Elder, and some roadies. The photo-shoot for Desperado took place at the Paramount Ranch, once a film set for westerns. During the shoot, the band and their entourage kicked up huge quantities of dust. “This cloud of smoke rose up,” Diltz recalled in the documentary Who Shot Rock & Roll: The Film. “The fire engines came because people reported that the hills were on fire.”
Photographer: Henry Diltz | Art director: Gary Burden
2: ‘One Of These Nights’ (1975)
Former marine Gary Burden, who was in charge of the art direction and design for One Of These Nights, said that as a kid he had loved the “jazz record jackets for Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis albums” and learned from them the power of music packaging and the need to grab a listener’s attention. He hired Boyd Elder to create the illustration for the cover – and he used a cow skull, paint and feathers for the piece that adorns One Of These Nights. “I chose this particular piece of art because it represents, to me, where the band was coming from and where they were going,” Burden explained in a post on his website. “The cow skull is pure cowboy, folk, the decorations are American Indian-inspired, and the future is represented by the more polished reflective glass beaded surfaces covering the skull.” The image of the band, which appeared on the back of the album sleeve, was taken by acclaimed photographer Norman Seeff, who said he captured the band “being themselves in a confident way”. Forever securing its place among the best Eagles album covers, the finished design received a Grammy nomination for Best Album Package.
Illustrator: Boyd Elder Photographers: Tom Kelly, Jr, Norman Seeff | Art director: Gary Burden
1: ‘Hotel California’ (1976)
John Kosh was invited to a meeting at Irving Azoff’s office and played the title track of Hotel California by Glenn Frey and Don Henley. “I was floored but the brief was just, ‘What are you going to do?’” Kosh recalled. He and photographer David Alexander looked at several possible hotels to use on the front cover – including the Hotel Green in Pasadena – and in the end settled on the Beverly Hills Hotel, at 9641 Sunset Boulevard. They decided their aim was to turn the bright cheerful façade into “something that would better match the album’s dark, sinister subject matter” by photographing it at sunset. “We hired a cherry picker because we had to get above the hedges,” Kosh added. “I was scared out of my wits to be so high.” Kosh was so happy with the final shot that he decided to use the “trick” of leaving the band’s name off the cover. Initially, lawyers from the hotel threatened to sue over unauthorised use of the building’s image, until it was pointed out to them that requests for bookings had tripled in the wake of the album’s release. Don Henley said he thought the sleeve, which tops our list of the best Eagles album covers, was magnificent because it summed up the atmosphere of “faded glory, loss of innocence and decadence” that was the point of the title song.
Photographer: David Alexander | Art director: John Kosh
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