The Secrets behind the “Abbey Road” Cover

The Beatles' "Abbey Road" album cover

Fifty years ago, the Beatles walked across a street in London for a photo shoot and the rest is history. 

The image of George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon striding across the road outside EMI studios in St John’s Wood is probably the group’s most iconic image to date. The image, which was taken as part of a photoshoot with late Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, would then be made into the cover of their Abbey Road album by then Apple Records art director John Kosh.

The creator of one of the most iconic album covers talks about his creative decisions.

Kosh shared that since the album was initially planned to follow the White Album, he 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 released 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.”

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. “We thought, if you didn’t know the Beatles by now, where have you been?” he added. 

The four Beatles walked across the zebra crossing six times and the whole thing only took about ten minutes. Pic five of six would later adorn the album’s cover.