From page 15 of Classic Rock Magazine July 2007
★ STRANGE DAYS RELEASED 1967 HIGHEST UK CHART POSITION DID NOT CHART SLEEVE DESIGN JOEL BRODSKY When Joel Brodsky died in March this year at the age of 67, he left behind him one of the most thrilling portfolios in rock photography. A native of Brooklyn, New York, who set up his first studio there in 1966, Brodsky will be remembered for the album covers he shot for successive generations of bands, starting with Eric Andersen’s ’Bout Changes And Things that year. But it
was his work with The Doors that secured his position among the greats.
Brodsky met The Doors when the band arrived in New York as the latest signing to Elektra Records. He took the shots on the back of the band’s selftitled 1967 debut, and they called him again for the cover of its follow-up, 1967’s Strange Days . Over the years that followed, and even after the band’s demise in 1972, Brodsky earned repeat commissions for The Doors, taking photos for the cover of 1969’s The Soft Parade and 1979’s An American Prayer , and also the now iconic ‘Jesus Christ pose’ shots of frontman Jim Morrison.
When it came to the cover of Strange Days , however, the singer didn’t want to play ball. “Originally the band were going to appear in a mirror carried by the two dwarves,” Brodsky recalled in 2005, “but
Morrison was adamant he didn’t want to appear on the sleeve.” (Ultimately the band appeared on a discrete poster.)
Instead, taking inspiration from Federico Fellini’s 1954 film La Strada , Brodsky decided to people his chosen location (a quiet residential Manhattan mews called Sniffen Court) with an oddball collection of circus performers: strongman, a juggler, a trumpet player, two acrobats and a pair of dwarves (one on the front, one on the back).
In reality only the acrobats were genuine. With the summer circus season in full swing, Brodsky had to hire the dwarves from an acting agency; the strongman was the bouncer from a New York club; the trumpet player was a passing cab driver who was paid $5 for the job. The juggler was later revealed to be Brodsky’s assistant, Frank Kollegy, whose inability to keep more than two balls aloft meant the shoot was constantly interrupted when the photographer chased the balls down the street.
While genuine, the acrobats were not much better: “They were terrible,” Brodsky said. “The guy underneath could only hold up his partner for a few seconds. It took us hours to get it right.”