Art of the Album: In the Court of the Crimson King by Barry Godber

Art of the Album

In the Court of the Crimson King by Barry Godber

The story goes that Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield asked Barry Godber, the only artist he knew, to paint something for In the Court of the Crimson King that would get the album noticed in record stores. Sinfield, working a day job as a computer programmer at the time, created the iconic cover, an illustration of the song “21st Century Schizoid Man”and the lesser known inside art, a representation of the sad-eyed but smiling Crimson King.


In an era where album cover art was at its peak and there were many talented and innovative artists working on covers for various well-known bands, Godber’s cover art seared through the eye candy, a more modern and alienated take on Munch’s ‘The Scream’ that seemed to pop right off the canvas (or album cover).  It helped the band and the artist get noticed, but sadly Godber was not to enjoy his newfound fame for long–he died of a heart attack in 1970.

 In the Court of the Crimson King is Godber’s only album cover, yet that single piece of art has become as unique and iconic as the album itself. In a piece in Classic Rock Magazine from December 2009, original Crimson vocalist Greg Lake said of the cover:
“We all stood around it, and it was like something out of Treasure Island where you’re all standing round a box of jewels and treasure…this fucking face screamed up at us from the floor, and what it said to us was ‘Schizoid Man’- the very track we’d all been working on. It was as if there was something magic going on.”  .
The original painting is owned by Robert Fripp

Related Content: King Crimson: A 21st Century Guide

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