Category Archives: Sticky Fingers album

The Rolling Stones’ “STICKY FINGERS” Album

Stones founder member Brian Jones had died in 1969 and the band hadn’t released and album since “Let It Bleed” that same year. Mick Taylor joined to fill Brian Jones’s shoes. But the group hadn’t been idle. They had begun recording new material for an album in March 1969 and come up with some of their strongest material. Further the new album, entitled “Sticky Fingers” was to be the first to be released on The Rolling Stones own record label (licensed to Atlantic Records). Mick Jagger had already approached Andy Warhol to suggest that he design the upcoming album’s cover.*

Mick Jagger's 1969 letter to Andy Warhol sending him material and a copy of Sticky Fingers and asking him to design somerthing wild.
Mick Jagger’s 1969 letter to Andy Warhol sending him material and a copy of Sticky Fingers and asking him to design something wild.

Warhol had already discussed the idea of having a zip fastener on a record cover and this was his opportunity. I have already posted a fairly detailed account of the cover’s production in my February 2015  post on “The sources of Andy Warhol’s record cover art – The Rolling Stones“, so I won’t go into it again here.

The album was released on 23rd April 1971. The UK and European editions had the band’s name and the record title like rubber stamps over the model’s right thigh while the US version had both the band name and title placed over the models belt. The Stones gave the record the titillating catalogue number COC 59100 for both editions. A later US and Canadian re-issue had the catalogue number COC 39105. I have thus far not been able to find out when this was released. Both my copies are the 39105 version.

The UK/European cover.
The UK/European cover.
The US/Canadian cover.
The US/Canadian cover.

However, in Spain, the cover was deemed too lascivious and a “politer” version illustrating sticky fingers covered in treacle was used.

The Spanish cover.
The Spanish cover.

The rear cover photo on both the UK/European and US/Canadian versions was identical with the jeans-clad posterior on both. The Spanish cover used the photo of the Stones that graced the UK and US inner sleeves.

In 2015, a remastered and expanded version of the “Sticky Fingers” album with an extra LP of live tracks. This was reissued with a working zip but with the tongue logo on the zip’s puller. Simultaneously there were several variations including a double CD with the same cover image but without a working zip, a box set with CD and a book – again without the working zipper and a super deluxe box set with a triple CD, seven-inch single and photographs. The CD in this box does have a working zip. This is the second time that a CD with real zip has appeared. Incidentally, this reissue series also includes a double LP with the Spanish cover.

Just recently my friends at London’s A and D Gallery got hold of a copy of the 1971 US release (COC 39105) signed by Andy Warhol along with a signed copy of “Love You Live” which they passed on to me!

My signed
My signed “Sticky Fingers” LP.
My signed
My signed “Love You Live” cover.

As many people know, Andy was not pleased by Mick Jagger adding the title to the front cover of the “Love You Live” album and usually refused to sign the front, preferring, as in this case to sign the inner spread. These two signed albums make a great addition to my collection of Warhol covers.

*Guy Minnebach points out that this letter cannot have anything to do with the decision to ask Warhol to design the “Sticky FIngers” cover as the letter refers to a hits package. Furthermore, Jagger sends a copy of the finished album with the letter, so the album CANNOT be “Sticky FIngers” as that was not recorded yet. The Stones DID ask Warhol to design a cover for their “Through the Past Darkly” hits album released in 1969, but apparently rejected Warhol’s design, which has thus far not been found.

The Sources of Andy Warhol’s record cover art, Part 2 – The Rolling Stones

Part one of this series on the sources of Andy Warhol’s record cover art dealt with the images on the covers of Rolling Stones bootleg albums. It seems logical to devote the second part to the three official Rolling Stones covers designed by Andy Warhol. Well, actually, there should be four official album covers that he designed for the Stones – but the design for their 1969 Greatest Hits album has been lost after Mick Jagger (was said to have) refused it. The three covers are (of course):
– Sticky Fingers (1971)
– The Rolling Stones (promotional EP) 1977
– Love You Live (1977)

Sticky Fingers
In 1969 Andy Warhol is said to have suggested to Mick Jagger at a party that he would like to design a record cover with a working zip. Jagger remembered this in 1969 when recording the Stones’ first album to be released on their own label, Rolling Stones Records. He wrote a letter to Warhol expressing his satisfaction that Warhol had agreed to design the cover.

Mick Jagger's 1969 letter to Andy Warhol sending him material and a copy of Sticky Fingers and asking him to design somerthing wild.
Mick Jagger’s 1969 letter to Andy Warhol sending him material and a copy of Sticky Fingers and asking him to design something wild.

So, what about the photo? There is uncertainty about who the model was and even discussion about who actually took the photograph. It is usually credited to Warhol. The identity of the model has never been confirmed, though many assumed the model was Jagger, it has often been rumoured to be either a hanger-on at the Factory, Warhol’s studio, named Joe Dallesandro, or Factory artist and designer Corey Tippin.

The album package was designed by Craig Braun who realized there had to be an extra layer of cardboard to protect the record from the zipper; that layer features another Warhol shot of a different man, possibly the twin brother of Warhol’s boyfriend and assistant Jed Johnson or journalist Glenn O’Brien, this time in his jockey shorts which (barely) contained him. The picture of a man’s pelvic region clad only in a revealing pair of white underpants was stamped with Andy Warhol’s stamp. Sticky Fingers was the first Stones record to show the  tongue logo, which has often erroneously been credited to Warhol. It was in fact designed by Ernie Cefalu and his version was used for much of the merchandising and was the design originally shown to the band by Craig Braun. However, the design used for the album was done by John Pasche.

While the cover of “Brown Sugar / Bitch”, the number one single from the album, in most countries had a portrait of the group taken by Peter Webb. However, in Mexico the single and an EP used the Warhol photographs.

"Azucar Morena" EP - front and rear cover.
“Azucar Morena” EP – front and rear cover.

There was also a shaped picture disc that used the classic Warhol image.

"Brown Sugar / Bitch" picture disc single.
“Brown Sugar / Bitch” picture disc single.

The Rolling Stones (promotional EP)
This four track EP was released in 1977 as a trailer for the forthcoming “Love You Live” double album. Warhol had taken a number of Polaroid photographs of the band members licking or biting each other or just sticking their tongues out. There seem to have been about twenty-five polaroids and these were printed on tablecloths used at the

Warhol's Polaroid photographs on the "Love You Live" launch tablecloth.
Warhol’s Polaroid photographs on the “Love You Live” launch tablecloth

“Love You Live” launch party thrown by the Stones at the New York’s club Trax, September 27, 1977.

The EP was released as a black vinyl EP in a picture sleeve bearing four of the Polaroid pictures.

The Rolling Stones' promotional EP cover.
The Rolling Stones’ promotional EP cover.

A picture disc EP also appeared with the same catalogue number. However, this was probably a bootleg.

Love You Live
Released on 23rd September 1977 was a double album with a gatefold sleeve designed by Warhol. His original design did not include the album title or the band name, which apparently were added by Mick Jagger much to Warhol’s annoyance. The front cover picture is of Mick Jagger biting what looks like a child’s hand – probably that of his daughter Jade. The inner sleeves show two profiles, possible Charlie Watts,  with extended pink tongues painted in.

Epilogue
Both “Sticky Fingers” and “Love You Live” have become classic record cover designs and rank with Warhol’s banana cover for “The Velvet Underground & Nico” as his best known covers.