Revered Album Art Director John Berg Passes Away Aged 83

16 October 2015 | 2:07 pm | Staff Writer

The veteran creative was instrumental in several of the late 20th century's most iconic covers

The Grammy Award-winning one-time art director of Columbia Records, John Berg, has passed away after suffering from pneumonia, it has been reported. He was 83.

Average music fans may not know Berg by name, but they almost certainly know his work; the man was prolific in his role as Columbia's art director between 1965 and 1985, having an instrumental role in crafting several memorable album covers from throughout the mid-to-late 20th century, including works by Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Santana, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, to name a few.

Berg routinely defied expectation with his art direction, earning one of his four Grammy Awards for his work on Dylan's Greatest Hits (1967), which features a back-lit shot of the wild-haired singer-songwriter (taken by photographer Rowland Scherman) mid-performance. As The New York Times notes, what set this particular album apart was that it "was packaged with an accompanying poster, commissioned by Mr Berg and memorably executed by [designer Milton] Glaser, that depicted Mr Dylan in profile, his hair a mass of brightly coloured psychedelic whorls".

The release echoed another standout for Dylan, 1966's Blonde On Blonde, which included an "immense" photograph of the musician which "opened vertically to reveal a nearly full-length portrait".

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Berg was born on 12 January 1932, joining Columbia in 1961 as an assistant to then-art director Bob Cato, taking over the role in 1965. He stayed with Columbia until 1985, becoming its creative director and a vice-president of the organisation in the process.

He is survived by his wife, Durell Godfrey, his previous wife, Rosamond Bassett, and daughter (with Bassett) Kristina.