Paul Whitehead's album cover artwork

Genesis-Nursery Cryme front cover

Paul Whitehead is a British painter and graphic artist known for his surrealistic album covers for artists on the Charisma Records label in the 1970s, such as Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator. An art show in London in the mid-sixties led to Whitehead being picked up as an in-house artist for the London office of Jazz record label Liberty Records. Previously, he had been studying at the University of Oxford on an art scholarship. The first record cover he designed was for a repackaged Fats Domino album. This was followed by a series of work for other reissues for the UK market. In 1968, Whitehead became the original art director for Time Out in London magazine, which led him to further commissions for album covers. After a meeting with producer John Anthony, Whitehead was introduced to Tony Stratton-Smith, the founder of Charisma Records. Stratton-Smith introduced Whitehead to Genesis, and he was hired to do the cover to their 1970 album, Trespass.

Genesis-Trespass (1970) front cover

Genesis-Trespass full cover

Charisma Records allowed Whitehead complete creative control over his work. Fruitful work in collaboration with Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, Lindisfarne, and Peter Hammill followed at Charisma.

Genesis-Nursery Cryme (1971) full cover

Van Der Graaf Generator-Pawn Hearts (1971) full cover

Genesis-Foxtrot (1972) front cover

Genesis-Foxtrot full cover

Additionally, Whitehead is also credited as a performer on the Peter Hammill albums Fool's Mate (drums) and In Camera (percussion).

Peter Hammill-Fool's Mate (1971) full cover

In 1973, Whitehead moved to Los Angeles, where he continued to work on album covers as a freelancer. He provided cover art also for some albums of the Italian prog rock band Le Orme. 

Le Orme-Smogmagica (1975) front cover

Le Orme-Elementi (2001) front cover

Le Orme-L'infinito (2004) front cover

Paul Whitehead is still mostly associated with progressive rock, and designed the 2000 logo for NEARfest. As a founder of the Eyes and Ears Foundation, he conceived of and organized the "Drive Though Art Gallery" Artboard Festival in February 1977, where artists painted on donated billboards. He has also created murals and designed corporate logos. Whitehead was in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest indoor mural, which he painted at the Vegas World casino (since demolished and replaced by the Stratosphere casino) in Las Vegas.

Renaissance-Illusion (1971) front cover