The True Story Behind Pink Floyd Album Cover ‘Wish You Were Here’


Most bands would not have been able to follow an album like Dark Side of the Moon, but Pink Floyd created another smash hit with Wish You Were Here. Despite the daunting task for follow-up, they clearly put their blood, sweat, and tears into both.

Dark Side of the Moon | Photo Credit Amazon
Dark Side of the Moon | Photo Credit Amazon

By 1974, Pink Floyd was well known across the globe. The superstars then had to figure out how to continue the legacy. For the band, this meant continuing to push the boundaries of their music and even their album artwork.

In a way, some of this came because of the absence of Syd Barrett.

Building A Legacy As Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd | Photo Rolling Stone

Pink Floyd asked for founding member Syd Barrett to leave the band due to drug-related issues. Surprisingly, the loss helped the band by inspiring them to write songs about the missing piece of their dynamic. Specifically, Roger Waters wrote songs to honor his friend and encourage the band to keep pushing forward. For Wish You Were Here, Waters said that he wanted to keep pushing the limits and demand more of himself.

The song, “Although ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” was written for Syd.

Storm Thorgerson Designs Another Classic

Storm Thorgerson | Photo Credit Birmingham Mail

Designer Storm Thorgerson created the cover for Dark Side of the Moon. The designer used the lyrics of the album for inspiration. By using the themes from the lyrics, Thorgerson explored the true ethos of rock and roll, as well as a little anarchy.

In an effort for the album to “stick it to the man,” it was meant to showcase the emptiness of materialistic capitalism. Buying and selling is no way to communicate. The cover— specifically the LP sleeve— is full of imagery as such.

The burning man highlights the soulless salesman. Where two men are shaking hands, one of them is literally burning to death. Clearly, two stuntmen were hired for the image, which also appears to be shot on a studio lot.

According to legend, one of the men actually lost his eyebrows and mustache due to the wind that day. The album remains iconic as a follow-up to Dark Side.

What is your favorite album by Pink Floyd?