Thursday, July 29, 2021

L.A. Album Cover Locales

Many an album cover was photographed in L.A., it goes without saying. Where, though? Here's a tour.

You can't go inside, sorry, but Carole King and her Kitty were photographed in Carole's home at 8815 Appian Way, high above Sunset Plaza. Carole had great success in the 60s writing for others, from the Monkees to the Byrds, but it was Tapestry, among the bestselling albums of all time, that was her coming out party. An excerpt from the photographer's obituary says it better than I can: "Photographer Jim McCrary was on the verge of shooting one of his most famous images when he stopped to ask singer Carole King if the cat sleeping across the room could be part of the tableau.

"When King assured him that her pet was docile, he carried the tabby and its pillow to the window ledge and into the frame. By the third click of his camera, the cat had slipped away but McCrary had what he needed: a picture of both the barefoot songstress and her whiskered feline that became the cover of King's landmark 1971 Tapestry album."

An abandoned house in Topanga Canyon was used for the front cover of The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968) and the back of Linda Ronstadt's Hand Sown Home Grown (1969). The Byrds were photographed by rock/celeb photographer Guy Webster at what he referred to as an old stable in Malibu Canyon, but the house has recently been spotted and verified one canyon over in Topanga, not far from the old Topanga Corral (647 Old Topanga Road).

The Byrds as pictured on the cover are: (left to right) Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn, and Michael Clarke. Although David Crosby appeared on several tracks on the album, he had unofficially been fired from the band. There is speculation that the inclusion of the horse (rather than Crosby) was an inside joke, but Guy Webster denies the accusation.  Linda Ronstadt appears on the right as photographed by Eddie J. Caraeff.

The covers for two Love LPs, Love and Da Capo, were shot at what was once Bela Lugosi's $30,000 mansion at 2227 Outpost Drive. Today a private residence, the home was purchased in 2018 for nearly $4 million.

Many of the photo locations are obvious: Bonnie Raitt's cover for Takin' My Time is a waiting room in the glorious Union Station downtown and, while there isn't a “Hotel California,” the LP's iconic location is the Beverly Hills Hotel. The interior shot of the band, though, is not. That instead is the Lido Apartments at 6500 Yucca Street, just a stroll from Hollywood Blvd. Head down Highland passed the Hollywood Bowl and turn right on Barham Blvd. Once over the ridge, you’ll see Warner Bros. Studios, the location for Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. It was also the site for Petula Clark's These Are My Songs, which had the hit "Don’t Sleep in the Subway." The Doobie Brothers used a collapsed freeway overpass from the 1971 Sylmar quake to photograph their The Captain and Me LP. Last one for the obvious: Going For the One from Yes features the twin triangular buildings, the Century City Towers.

For me, a sentimental one is the Norman Seeff photo for Art Garfunkel's Breakaway, which was taken at a booth where I’ve sat on numerous occasions in Dan Tana’s (9071 Santa Monica Blvd.), that splendid survivor of an ever-expanding Lost L.A. (We will miss you, Mike).


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