Guy Webster, Rock Album Photographer, Dies

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One of Guy Webster’s most recognizable photos. The record label was forced to cover the toilet bowl with a sticker when stores refused to carry the album

The photographer Guy Webster, whose work adorned album covers by such rock greats as the Doors (their self-titled debut), the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas (If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, their debut, and Deliver), the Rolling Stones (Big Hits—High Tide and Green Grass), the Byrds (Turn! Turn! Turn!), Paul Revere and the Raiders, Chicago, and Simon and Garfunkel (Sounds of Silence), died February 9, 2019.

Neither the place nor the cause of death were announced but Webster suffered from diabetes and liver cancer.  He was 79.

Watch a video spotlight on Guy Webster

Born and raised in Los Angeles, the son of successful songwriter Francis Webster (“The Shadow of Your Smile,” “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”), Guy Webster took up photography while serving in Vietnam. Upon his return he was hired as the art director of Lou Adler’s Dunhill Records, where he was assigned to shoot the cover art for the debut by the new male-female quartet the Mamas and the Papas. Webster posed the group seated in a bathtub, with a toilet bowl visible. Some retail outlets refused to carry the album because of the toilet, causing the label to recall the albums and cover the offensive potty with a sticker.

Related: Rock photos by Elliott Landy

Guy Webster (Photo from his Facebook page)

Webster quickly became a photographer of choice in the L.A. music scene. In addition to his many familiar album covers (which also included Van Dyke Parks, Waylon Jennings and others), he photographed such well-known music figures as Bob Dylan, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Bobby Darin, Canned Heat, Ravi Shankar, Rick Nelson, Randy Newman, Carole King, David Crosby, Harry Nilsson, Janis Joplin, Paul Simon, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix and many others.

He also photographed Hollywood legends and other celebrities, including Liza Minnelli, Natalie Wood, Truman Capote, Jane Fonda, John Belushi, Leonard Nimoy, Jack Nicholson, and Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

The Doors’ debut album, photo by Guy Webster

Webster’s work was the subject of a book, Big Shots: Rock Legends and Hollywood Icons: The Photography of Guy Webster.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Pete
    #1 Pete 9 February, 2019, 16:23

    I believe he also shot the cover of the American version of The Rolling Stones Aftermath (the American version) in 1966

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