10 Great Albums that Feature Gibsons on their Covers
From Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive! to Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow, albums throughout rock’s glorious history have often featured Gibson instruments prominently on their covers. In a 2009 feature story, we focused on 10 classic discs that beautifully showcased Gibson acoustics and electrics. Below are 10 additional favorites — some of which are already considered classics, and some of which are destined to achieve that status.
Bob Marley & The Wailers, Live at the Roxy
Recorded on May 26, 1976, at the Roxy nightclub in Hollywood, this live album captured Bob Marley and The Wailers as they were first taking America by storm. Fittingly, the cover shot features Marley with his beloved Les Paul Special. A beautiful instrument, the guitar was distinguished by its aged cherry finish, its mahogany body and its mahogany neck. In an exclusive interview with Gibson.com, Stephen Marley revealed that his father often referred to the guitar as “Old Faithful.”
ZZ Top, ZZ Top’s First Album
What could be more fitting than a simple photo of Billy Gibbons’ cherished “Pearly Gates” Les Paul as the cover shot for ZZ Top’s 1970 debut album? Determined to own a Gibson electric after hearing Eric Clapton’s work in John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Gibbons first picked up a ’58 Flying V as his main guitar. Later, with proceeds from the sale of a vintage Packard automobile, he bought the ’59 Les Paul that has since risen to fame alongside the Reverend Billy F. himself.
Chuck Berry, Is On Top
Several Chuck Berry album covers sport terrific photos of Berry’s ES-335 variations, including shots of his ES-345 and ES-355. For the reissue of this 1959 Chess classic, the powers-that-be chose a terrific shot of Berry – and his ES-345 – in full performance mode. Featuring such gems as “Maybellene,” “Little Queenie” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” the album is essentially a mini-greatest-hits disc.
AC/DC, High Voltage
The cover for this 1976 album, which collected highlights from AC/DC’s first two Australian discs, showcased the instrument Angus Young used to create his signature licks and riffs. Tapping the essence of hard rock’s swagger and humor, Young went on to become a premier poster boy for the glories of the SG. Few guitarists in rock history have shown themselves to have a bigger grab-bag of terrific riffs.
Earl Slick, Zig Zag
Earl Slick was just 22 years old when David Bowie recruited him to replace Mick Ronson in the wake of the breakup of The Spiders from Mars. Slick’s searing six-string work, played primarily on one of several go-to Les Pauls, adorned such classic Bowie discs as Station to Station and Young Americans. Later, John Lennon chose Slick to be one of the main guitarists on his and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy album. This terrific solo disc, graced by a cover shot of Slick with one of his beloved Les Pauls, shows why he’s always been in such demand.
Larry Carlton, Plays the Sound of Philadelphia
Few guitarists have been more closely associated with a particular guitar – in this case, a 1968 ES-335 – than Larry Carlton has. The cover for Carlton’s latest album, which finds him interpreting such “Sound of Philly” classics as “Back Stabbers” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” shows the veteran players cradling his beloved instrument. Small wonder that Carlton is known to fans, followers and fellow musicians as “Mr. 335.”
Sheryl Crow, C’Mon C’Com
Sheryl Crow has used a variety of Gibson acoustic and electrics throughout her career, including a Hummingbird, a J-45 and a ’60s-era Country Western upon which a “Sheryl Crow Signature” model was based. As its cover implies, this 2002 disc features some of the sunniest, most hook-laden songs of Crow’s career. It could hardly by more fitting that the cover shot for this roots-pop masterpiece shows Crow playing her J-200 Super Jumbo.
Frank Zappa, Shut Up ‘n’ Play Your Guitar
Frank Zappa’s collection of Gibsons included a ’54 Les Paul Goldtop, an ES-5 Switchmaster, an ES-355 and a variety of SGs. The cover shot for this 1981 triple-album set – which focuses exclusively on Zappa’s mastery of the guitar – shows the late six-string maestro cradling the ’70s Les Paul Sunburst that was his mainstay instrument at the time. Anyone who aspires to play electric guitar should listen time and again to this treasure trove of Zappa solos.
Warren Haynes, Man in Motion
Warren Haynes has always been a Gibson devotee, often alternating among one of several Les Pauls, non-reverse Firebirds and ES-335s. The cover for his latest solo album, Man in Motion, features an elegant shot of Haynes holding one of his beautiful ES-335s. As regards the music contained therein, the disc finds Haynes giving voice to his profound love for southern soul music. Influences on the material range from The Meters to Wilson Pickett to Booker T. and The M.G.’s, with Haynes’ guitar work providing a tasty foundation throughout.
Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline
What better way to emphasize Bob Dylan’s detour into country music than to show him holding a J-200 Super Jumbo? Released in 1969, and chock-filled with classics that set the tone for country rock for years to come, Nashville Skyline remains one of Dylan’s finest efforts. “Lay Lady Lay” and “Girl from the North Country” get the most attention, but tracks such as “Tell Me That Isn’t True” foreshadowed a style the Eagles and other country rockers would adopt just a year or two after this gem of an album was released.