Mark Blake is the author of "Us and Them: The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis”, the newly published history of legendary British design group Hipgnosis who were responsible for creating some of the most legendary album covers of all time for bands including Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
In 2018, he published “Bring It On Home: Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin and Beyond”, an authorised biography of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant.
Blake joined LedZepNews for a conversation about his work and the world of Led Zeppelin. You can read edited highlights of the interview on the LedZepNews website here.
Paying subscribers can listen to the full audio interview above and read the complete transcript of our conversation with Mark Blake below.
LedZepNews: I guess a good place to start really is the cultural impact of Hipgnosis, because I think a lot of people might not necessarily know the name of the company but they certainly know their work. And I guess that's quite an interesting point for you to come into, to sort of tell their story is, you know, people kind of may have known a little bit of their work already.
Mark Blake: Yes, well I mean, I think they were, for me growing up, I got...I knew their name from record sleeves. So I suddenly started to notice a lot of these records that I liked or that I was looking at in shops. In those days, you read everything on a record sleeve, because there's no other way of information, particularly with a band like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, because they weren't ever on telly, and they were hardly on the radio.
So I got to know the name from there. I think the cultural impact of it is such that now this artwork is being displayed in exhibitions and in museums, which is something they, Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, would never have imagined when they started the company in the late sixties.
I think for me, the fact that you see some of this imagery referenced in films and so on, you can hold up a cover of Dark Side of the Moon and people will know what it is even if they don't know the songs. They will know the artwork.
I remember a penny dropped for me in terms of Led Zeppelin when I started out as a writer, I got invited to the premiere of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure in the early nineties and there's a reference in it where Keanu Reeves talks about, and I mentioned this in the book, you know this, he talks about in 2000 BC or something when the world looked like the cover of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy.
I remember thinking at the time, everybody laughed, but it didn't show the sleeve. But it showed that the filmmakers knew that whoever was going to see this film about two knucklehead heavy metal fans would know that cover. That stayed with me because I thought that was really interesting that has now become a part of a broader culture, not just music.