Artist Frank Frazetta passed away on May 10th in Fort Myers, Florida, subsequent to a stroke, at the age of 82. A monumentally influential creator of fantasy landscapes that were as ubiquitous on rock album covers as they were in comics and science fiction, Frazetta specialized in bold, epic visions of warrior heroes on thunderous steeds, fearsome villains, and curvaceous femmes fatale, in locales ranging from verdant forests to icy netherworlds. As a tribute to his seminal work, here’s a gallery of album covers either created or inspired by the late, great Frank Frazetta, the Michelangelo of the sword-and-sorcery set.
Molly Hatchet – Molly Hatchet
Just as Roger Dean’s album covers for Yes forever linked prog rock to trippy, surreal planetscapes, so too did the art for the first Molly Hatchet album answer the question “What’s the connection between Conan The Barbarian-style characters and second-generation Southern rock?” with a hearty “Frank Frazetta!”
Molly Hatchet – Flirting With Disaster
What, in this day and age, you never heard of a sequel? For their second album, Molly Hatchet decided to go from strength to strength, following up their use of Frazetta’s doomy Death Dealer image with the more heroic figure of a Frazetta piece called Dark Kingdom. Maybe they looked at Frazetta’s musclebound, bearded adventurer and though “Hey, that’s what we could look like if we put on Thor helmets and worked out for a couple of decades!”
Molly Hatchet – Beatin’ The Odds
If the history of modern American culture has taught us anything, it’s that something worth doing twice is worth doing three times. The final installment of the Frazetta/Molly Hatchet trilogy finds a hard-bitten horseman leaping into battle despite being outnumbered by his foes. Maybe the Hatch saw this as a metaphor for the increasing difficulty of keeping their Southern rock sound relevant as they entered the New Wave ’80s…
Dust – Hard Attack
The 1972 sophomore release by proto-metal act Dust was Frazetta’s first album cover, and its musclebound warriors and swinging axes set the template for much of what would follow. Little did anyone know at the time that Dust drummer Marc Bell would go on to become Marky Ramone six years later.
Nazareth – Expect No Mercy
Things get decidedly more spooky and supernatural in this Frazetta piece called The Brain. Scottish hard-rock vets Nazareth made the most of this image of a classic Frazetta-style warrior locked in battle with a devilish figure backdropped by some sort of supersized brain. Either they thought it had something to do with man’s inner struggle between his good and evil nature, or they just decided the dude with the horns and the sword looked bad-ass.
Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – War To End All Wars
You’ve got an album full of fiery heavy metal guitar shredding and a martial album title, but nothing in mind for the cover. Who you gonna call? Yeah, that’s right, Frazetta! Well, just to keep the record straight, almost none of Frazetta’s covers were actually made to order, they were mostly pre-existing works chosen for album-art use. But even in 2001, there still seemed to be nothing quite like a fierce Frazetta image for an album of in-your-face guitar heroics.
The Dead Elvi – Buddy Bought The Farm
Okay, so horror-rockers The Dead Elvi might not be as well known as Molly Hatchet or Nazareth, but you don’t exactly hear Dust’s name come up every day either, do you? And if this relatively serene graveyard scene seems significantly less intense — not to mention less populated — than your average Frazetta cover, it might have something to do with the fact that this is the only album cover Frazetta ever actually did design to order.
Wolfmother – Wolfmother
Just in case you thought there was no high-profile album art happening in Frazetta’s final years, feast your eyes on the angelic dame either about to ascend to another plane or descending from one (or simply hanging around looking otherworldly). Since Wolfmother had a lot to do with bringing classic heavy rock back to the forefront in the 21st century, it’s only fitting that they had a Frazetta fixation — they used his work for a number of their singles too.
Saxon – Crusader
For as many album covers as Frazetta’s work adorned, there were probably hundreds of others that featured images inspired by his work. Here’s a perfect example from classic NWOBHM band Saxon’s 1984 album Crusader. Painted by Paul Gregory, it may be a bit more medieval than the standard Frazetta fare, but the doomy mood, magisterial warrior figures, and heap of post-battle casualties all seem like a straight-up homage to the man.
Armored Saint – Saints Will Conquer
The cover of the 1988 live album by L.A. metallists Armored Saint is so Frazetta-like it’s a wonder there wasn’t a lawsuit involved. It looks like the Death Dealer and Dark Kingdom images from the first two Molly Hatchet albums had some sort of unholy mating process to produce this conflation of scenarios. Well, if imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery, it would be hard to find a more heartfelt tribute to Frazetta than this.
Source: LimeWire Music Blog