As the longtime art director for Warner Bros. Records, Ed Thrasher created some of the most enduring and definitive record covers in pop music history, helming sleeves for classic LPs spanning from the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Are You Experienced? to Frank Sinatra's Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back. Born in Glendale, CA on March 7, 1932, Thrasher was the son of Los Angeles city councilman Edward Lee Thrasher, Sr. After high school, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, returning stateside to study art and illustration at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and the County Art Institute. Hired in 1957 as an assistant in Capitol Records' art department, Thrasher earned his first of 12 Grammy nominations in 1962 for his work on Edith Piaf's Potpourri par Piaf. Two years later Warner Bros. named him its new chief art director, and his portfolio mirrors the trajectory of the label itself, first focusing on traditional pop (e.g. Sinatra's September of My Years, Dean Martin's Houston) before transitioning into psychedelic rock via Hendrix's landmark debut Are You Experienced? and the Grateful Dead's Anthem of the Sun.
Thrasher's work adorns a staggering number of mainstream smashes and cult classics, among them Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey, Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle and Neil Young's self-titled solo debut. In addition to graphic design, he also snapped the photos accompanying many of his covers, and additionally tenured on WB's print advertisements and posters. After collaborating with architect A. Quincy Jones to design Warner's Burbank headquarters, Thrasher teamed with fellow art director Christopher Whorf to win the Grammy for best album package for Mason Proffit's 1973 LP Come & Gone -- that same year, he also titled and photographed Sinatra's comeback effort Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back, a phrase also employed in advertising for the crooner's return to live performance. But as more and more musicians demanded creative control over their album art, Thrasher grew dissatisfied with his shrinking role and in 1979 left WB to found his own advertising firm, Ed Thrasher and Associates. He also made tabloid headlines in 1983 when his 22-year marriage to Dallas star Linda Gray ended in divorce. After battling cancer, Thrasher died at his L.A. home on August 5, 2006.