May 22, 1971, The Rolling StonesSticky Fingers album, with a working zipper on the cover, an idea conceived by Andy Warhol, hits #1 in the US.

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This album, published in 1971, was a breakthrough in the Stones’ career. It was the first recorded studio album without Brian Jones, who had died in his pool in strange circumstances in 1969 (his replacement was Mick Taylor). At the same time, this album was first published by Rolling Stones Records, the band’s own record label after they ended their relationship with Decca. And… the album has the distinction of being the first to carry the famous tongue and lips, one of the world’s most iconic logos.

Sticky fingers, which captured the band at the absolute peak of their powers, on timeless tracks such as Brown Sugar, Wild Horses, Bitch, Sister Morphine and Dead Flowers, also will always be remembered for its original cover. In 1969, Andy Warhol presented a peculiar folder design for the album Let it Bleed in which the disc was wrapped in a woman’s stockings in cut jeans; Immediately the staff of the group’s office rejected this proposal. Finally, Warhol and the Stones would return two years later the trousers go for the Sticky fingers folder. The peculiarity of this cover is in the occurrence that Warhol had to put an authentic zipper. As the zipper could scratch the disc, Warhol placed inside a hard inner sleeve with an underpants photograph to protect the vinyl. The artist must have loved the idea of being able to touch objects on the album covers: previously he designed the cover of The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967), with the banana that could be peeled by removing a sticker.

Who hides behind Sticky fingers’ pants photo? An urban legend says that was Mick Jagger, but he wasn’t. There are more than one candidates because several models were photographed by Warhol. One of the possible owners of the famous crotch is Joe Dallesandro, protege of Andy Warhol and the main actor of the films rolled in The Factory. However, Glenn O’Brien, one of Warhol’s assistants, did not agree with this option. According to O’Brien, it was Jed Johnson, lover of Andy Warhol, the real owner of the pants. Even Glenn O’Brien went further and claimed that underpants were his own underpants. But, Jed Johnson denied O’Brien’s story.

The last candidate is another member of The Factory, Corey Tippin, but the real answer to the question of who hides behind Sticky fingers pants is still a secret.

Alternate covers

The original Andy Warhol artwork for Sticky Fingers was banned in Spain under General Franco, so the band arranged for John Pasche (who designed the first tongue logo), and Phil Jude (who later photographed the goat’s head for the inner sleeve of Goats Head Soup) to create alternative cover artwork:

Alternative cover artwork Sticky Fingers
Alternative cover artwork Sticky Fingers

But Spain was not the only country that released this album with a different cover to the one designed by Warhol. Russia, instead of posting the image of the men’s trousers, launched a female replica of the Sticky Fingers photograph for an unofficial release in the 90´s.

Sticky Fingers Russian unofficial release
Sticky Fingers Russian unofficial release

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