The 1970’s; a decade characterized by social experimentation and where focus was shifting away from the social activism of the 1960’s to social activities for one's own pleasure, except for environmentalism, which continued to be high on the political agenda. The writer Tom Wolfe dubbed the 1970’s the "Me Decade." Feminism, Gay Rights and the Vietnam War are all synonymous with the decade and have been affecting world views since. Of particular significance was the changing perception of the established institutions of the nuclear family, religion and trust in one's government. Major developments of the sexual revolution included the impact of the contraceptive pill, an increase in divorce rates, single parent households, and pre-marital sex.
Amongst this decade of socially challenging politics, art and media were at the cutting edge. Following in the wake of the 60’s and often using shock value artists profoundly broadened perceptions and continued to challenge “the powers that be”. Two iconic legends of the 1970’s were Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones, with their outrageous performances and explicit reference to drugs and sex in the lyrics of their songs, and pop artist and radical personality Andy Warhol. Warhol began his career as an illustrator then became famous for his paintings of popular celebrities (see above & left, Warhols portraits of Jagger), icons (supermarket brands such as the Campbell’s soup cans and Brillo steel pads) as an avant-garde filmmaker, record producer, an author and controversial socialite.
It was the union of these two creatively “out there” greats that produced what was to be the "No.1 Greatest Album Cover" of all time. It was at a party in New York in 1969, that Andy Warhol casually mentioned to Mick Jagger that it would be amusing to have a real zipper on an album cover. A year later, Jagger proposed the idea for the "Sticky Fingers" album cover, the Stones' most drug-drenched album. The artwork, including a working zipper that opened to reveal a man in cotton briefs (rubber stamped "This is not etc.”), was designed and photographed by Warhol and released in March 1971. It featured a close-up of a male in tight jeans, one of Warhol’s hip enclave, not Mick Jagger as a number of fans thought.
"If you stand back from that cover," it was said by the producer of the album Craig Braun at the time "you can actually see the guy's dick” and it was not surprisingly banned from certain department stores. The cover was later parodied by American band Motley Crue on their debut album “Too Fast For Love”. The album also features the first usage of the "Tongue and Lip Design”, a caricature of Jagger’s lips and tongue designed by John Pasche and used since as a classic symbol or even “logo” for the band. This legendary album cover propelled the Rolling Stones into a more sexual mode and all involved in the project gained notoriety from this infamous image.
And thus, a 1970’s legend was borne.