Halfnelson first Bearsville album cover

Halfnelson/Sparks Bearsville records Lp album cover
Halfnelson first Bearsville album front cover
The "car interior" cover designed by Ron Mael

In the early 70's Halfnelson/Sparks used to practice in a room in a factory somewhere in the Valley that made bunk beds for dogs... Russell Mael christened it "The Doggie Factory". The Band used to put photos and cut out newspaper articles all over the wall of the rehearsal room but the pics were constantly falling on the floor... The Doggie Factory was a bit of a mess...
Ron Mael tacked on the wall an old photo which looked like a promotional photo from General Motors of a model in an automobile... The picture fell on the floor. One day somebody picked it up, held it in the air and said "Hey... This could be our first album cover !"...

When it came time to design the album cover, lo and behold there it was. Ron Mael decided to use that old photo for the album cover. He cut out photographs of band members and glued them on the promo picture so it looked like the boys were peering in. Everybody in the band really loved it... The album came out in 1971 under the name "Halfnelson" but didn't have much impact on its initial release. There was no promotion and the first Halfnelson album flopped...

Halfnelson/Sparks Bearsville records Lp back cover
Halfnelson first Bearsville album back cover
Halfnelson members - photography by Larry Dupont

So Albert Grossman's Bearsville suggested the boys change their monicker. Albert Grossman actually wanted to rename Halfnelson into "Sparks Brothers" saying that they reminded them of the Marx Brothers but in the end it was decided only to use the first part of that name. The name "Sparks" was easier to pronounce, even if Sparks' tunes were hardly to swallow...

The record company thought the album should be repackaged under the name "Sparks" with a revamped packaging too. So Ron Mael and Larry Dupont (photographer and Sparks' manager) designed the famous album cover with the fake brick wall.
But it just wasn't as interesting as the first car interior cover. It fact it was kind of boring and the album didn't sell more than the original release... -

These informations regarding the story of Halfnelson first album cover were obtained from Harley A. Feinstein.

The Hidden Camera : On the back cover of Halfnelson original first Lp there was a shot of the band and Ron Mael can be seen wearing shades and with a full Mexican-style moustache - Sparks' road manager also had a moustache and that was just before Ron Mael's controversial Hitler/Charlie Chaplin look.
But this photography by Larry Dupont had been resharpened and resized for the back cover of the Lp.
So, when you take a look at the original pic it appears that Ron Mael was holding a (his own?) Canon photography camera.
At the time Sparks keyboardist was very involved with photogaphy. Ron Mael did numerous pictures for the band and twelve photos for the inside gatefold of "The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren" record
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Ron Mael from Sparks holding a Canon photography camera

Halfnelson Bearsville album Lp
Sparks A Woofer In Tweeters Clothing Album Cd reissue

When "A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing" was released in 1972 Sparks decided to propose an obvious cover with a very classic photography of the band. A photo session was scheduled with photograph and friend Larry Dupont in the basement of the UCLA Ethnic Arts Museum.
Strangely the band decided to put a blurred shot on the front album cover and a "straight" pic from the same photo session was used as Lp back cover. - read more about the original cover...

2 Original Of Sparks - Double Lp Bearsville England

In 1975, after Sparks' huge success in Europe, Bearsville Records reissued Sparks' first self-tiled album and "A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing". This double package was called "2 Originals Of Sparks". This combination of the first two albums came with a revampted cover of the original design of the very first "Halfnelson" Lp and a beautiful deluxe 16 pages large booklet with the history of the band by ex-Sparks' manager Joseph Fleury, photos, lyrics and Ron Mael and Russell Mael commenting each song. This double package is a pretty scarce item nowadays. Most of informations regarding Sparks on this website were taken from this fantastic booklet.

- more than 30 pages - in french -
- Halfnelson menu page -
©2006 by XAVIER LORENTE-DARRACQ / GRAPHIK DESIGNS - FRANCE duplication strictly prohibited