Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid: the art work

This article is part of a series in which we explore the creation of the covers of Bob Dylan’s albums.  An index of previous articles can be found here.

by Patrick Roefflaer

  • Released:        July 23, 1973
  • Photographer Manuel Palomino
  • Art-director:     John Van Hamersveld

Bob Dylan’s soundtrack for Sam Peckinpah’s western is packaged in a very sober cover: on the front there are only letters and on the back there’s one photo plus the credits.

Curiously enough, in the liner notes it says: ‘Photography: Manuel Palomino, Bob Jenkins & Sarah (sic) Dylan’. Three photographers for one photo? Strange.

The explanation can be found in an article in the American music magazine Rolling Stone of August 2, 1973: “A hodgepodge of film footage by staff photographer Bob Jenkins – and photos by Sarah (sic) Dylan – have been incorporated into a poster, which will be included with the LP.”

The unnamed author provides even more interesting info: “The cover design was intended to consist of a collage of paintings by Bob Dylan, which he had made on the film set [in Mexico].”

Charles Lippincott, head of the promotions department at the MGM film studios, explains why that didn’t go through: “The paintings were accidentally destroyed while packing in Mexico, to be sent to Los Angeles.”

After the film shooting in New Mexico, Dylan didn’t returned to New York, but moved with his family to L.A., where he has bought a house. For the first time, therefore, he does not call on anyone from the New York staff of CBS. After all, many graphic designers can be found in L.A. John Van Hamersveld was responsible for the album covers of Capitol Records from 1965 to 1968. He made Wild Honey by The Beach Boys and the American version of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. After that he focused on concert posters by Jimi Hendrix and Cream, and also continued to make covers such as Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones.


For the soundtrack album of Pat Garrett Van Hamersfeld comes with an extremely sober design: the title of the film in black Western type letters on a white background. Above the title, in sepia: ‘Bod Dylan Soundtrack’. For the first American pressing, the letters are embossed.

On the back cover we see a black and white photo by Manuel Palomino. It’s a scene from the movie, where Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) is on his knees, while Deputy Sheriff Bob Olinger (played by R. G. Armstrong) threatens him with a gun.

The (first) Japanese pressing has an alternate  sleeve, with more stills from the film.

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  1. The article leaves more questions than answers. The uncaptioned photo of the “hodgepodge collage poster” was apparently used in some fashion–there’s a current eBay listing for it, but I bought the Pat Garrett soundtrack when it was released, in fact have the embossed cover first printing, and there wasn’t any poster included.

    Searching for a Gem also maintains there was no poster included, in fact, the photo credits were changed after the first printing, but it apparently was used in some limited fashion for promotional purposes.

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