Boston’s hit song “More Than a Feeling” has long been a frequent presence on movie soundtracks and at wedding receptions. Just as instantly recognizable, though, is the cover of the eponymous first album on which the song appears. Designed by Paula Scher and illustrated by Roger Huyssen for Epic Records, the cover has a loyal following equalling the iconic art for The Beatles’ Revolver (designed by Klaus Voorman) and Cream’s Disraeli Gears (Martin Sharp). Album covers often carry emotive and symbolic weight—but what is it about guitar-shaped space ships fleeing an exploding planet earth on Boston that makes the image so special?
Scher, who once designed covers and worked as an art director for major artists such as The Rolling Stones and Maynard Ferguson, admits she's “mystified” by the continued interest in this album package. “The Boston cover was designed in 1976 and is now 39 years old,” she says. “It was, and still is, in my opinion, a mediocre piece of work.”
Yet the album has endured: The guitar-ship has been repeated on subsequent records and as backdrops on concert stages.
Album images don't always turn out as planned—their popularity is often a matter of timing. Take the cover for Boston: Tom Scholz, the band's guitarist and songwriter, wanted a guitar on the cover, which in Scher’s artistic lexicon was a cliché. She and Epic Records product manager Jim Charney compromised with a guitar-shaped space ship. “The first space ship cover idea we showed Scholz had a Boston invasion of the planet, but Scholz said that space ships should be saving the planet, not attacking. So we came up with the Earth-blowing-up idea,“ she said.