Album covers have always been a tried and true way to attract the attention of potential buyers, so it’s not surprising that a lot of attention is paid to designing and composing them. The right kind of cover can really hit the target with potential buyers, and if it’s successful enough it might even spawn an entire series — like what occurred when country-rock band Pure Prairie League featured a beloved cowboy character on its albums.
It certainly caught my attention, because I’m not only a fan of cowboy stuff but also of the art of Norman Rockwell, whose Dreams Of Long Ago inspired the whole thing. (You can see many of the album covers in the slideshow below.)
Pure Prairie League was an Ohio-based band that was at its most popular during the 1970’s and 1980’s, although it has been restarted a few times since. It was originally put together in Columbus by Craig Fuller, George Powell, Jim Lanham, and Tom McGrail, and took its name from a ladies’ temperance movement in an old Errol Flynn Western movie.
Drummer McGrail was later replaced by Jim Caughlin and steel guitar player John David Call was added to round out the group, which issued its first album in 1972. For the next decade PPL would be a popular attraction around the country and would also sell a lot of records, with songs like “Arnie,” “Let Me Love You Tonight,” and “Still Right Here In My Heart.”
Pure Prairie League would generate a number of solid albums that would provide plenty of opportunities to feature Rockwell’s cowboy, but even during the good years the group experienced a lot of turnover in personnel. That pattern would continue in later versions of the band, but the music has always been first rate.