Iconic Album Art: Blind Faith

The cover art for the 1969 debut album of Eric Clapton's band Blind Faith remains one of the most highly controversial pieces of album art until today. It shows a naked 11-year-old London girl holding a model spaceship. The concept and photography for this cover was developed by American graphic artist and photographer Bob Seidemann.

The album was published as a wide release with this cover art in both the United States (Atco) and Europe (Polydor), but in the U.S. it was quickly replaced with a new cover showing a group picture. The original album cover shows the same landscape photo on the back sleeve, but without the girl. All the text is on the inside of the gatefold sleeve, the front and the back are both without any titles or the band name.

Bob Seidemann wrote a lengthy essay about the concept and creation of the Blind Faith cover. After he was contracted by Eric Clapton's management to design the cover, he was struggling with the task for a long time...
I stumbled through the streets of London for weeks, bumping into things, gibbering like a mad man. I could not get my hands on the image until out of the mist a concept began to emerge. To symbolize the achievement of human creativity and its expression through technology a space ship was the material object. To carry this new spore into the universe, innocence would be the ideal bearer, a young girl, a girl as young as Shakespeare's Juliet. The space ship would be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the girl, the fruit of the tree of life.
The image is so controversial because it shows a naked girl in the midst of puberty, and Seidemann explains why he felt he had to make this choice:
If she were too old it would be cheesecake, too young and it would be nothing. The beginning of the transition from girl to woman, that is what I was after. That temporal point, that singular flare of radiant innocence.
Today, Seidemann's Blind Faith artwork is widely considered an iconic piece of Rock'n'Roll history, and an original signed photo print sold in 2014 at Sotheby's for $17,500, far surpassing the estimated $2,000 — $3,000. The young cover girl is also part of Rock'n'Roll history, and here is how Seidemann found her:
I was riding the London Tube [...] when the doors opened and she stepped into the car. She was wearing a school uniform, plaid skirt, blue blazer, white socks and ball point pen drawings on her hands. It was as though the air began to crackle with an electrostatic charge. She was buoyant and fresh as the morning air.

I must have looked like something out of Dickens. Somewhere between Fagan, Quasimodo, Albert Einstein and John the Baptist. The car was full of passengers. I approached her and said that I would like her to pose for a record cover for Eric Clapton's new band. Everyone in the car tensed up.

She said, do I have to take off my clothes? My answer was yes, I gave her my card and begged her to call. I would have to ask her parents' consent if she agreed. When I got to the office I called the flat and said that if this girl called not to let her off the phone without getting her phone number. When I returned she had called and left her number.

Rames El Desouki

The Traveller Publishing

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