The Secrets of the “Abbey Road” Cover

The iconic album cover of "Abbey Road"

The creator of one of the most iconic album covers talks about that day, fifty years ago, when the Beatles walked across a street in London for a photo shoot. 

Apple Records art director John Kosh, the man who turned the shots into an album cover, says that since the album would follow the White Album, he first came up with the idea of having four separate portraits of the group against a black background for contrast. “They were kind of falling apart, and that was supposed to be their swan song,” he says. “So a ‘black’ album was my answer to the White Album. It was supposed to be the last thing they were going to do. Was I wrong!”

But then Abbey Road replaced Get Back on the release schedule (by the time Get Back was unveiled it had a new title, Let It Be). Kosh had to come up with a new cover in a matter of two days. “We had a deadline,” he said. “We had to go to press and the album was late and you just had to deal with it.”

Given that the album was titled Abbey Road, Kosh decided to use the shots taken on the street of the same name and not to use the band’s name on the cover. According to Kosh, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, all signed off on the idea. 

The most iconic image of the four was taken by the late Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan. “They walked across the zebra crossing six times,” he said and apparently the whole thing only took about ten minutes. 

The story was first reported by Rolling Stone.