A lot of celebrity butts sat in the peacock wicker chair.

The golden age of album cover design doesn’t have a specific start and end date, but many regard the late 1960s to 1970s as one of the field’s most exciting times. From the psychedelic rock covers of the ’60s to the glistening airbrush covers of the ’70s, the era was a kaleidoscope of colors worthy of placement in modern art museums.

But there’s one genre of cover so ubiquitous it almost flew under the radar. The covers typically featured a wide shot of the artist sitting on a throne-like wicker chair, like a king or queen. Usually the artist looked casual and relaxed; sometimes props would sit around them to decorate the scene. No matter what, the oversized woven chair was the main feature. This was the peacock chair album cover, and it was everywhere.

Al Di Meola, Dorothy Moore, Larry Gatlin, and Funkadelic album covers from the 1970s, each featuring its respective artist sitting in a peacock wicker chair.
Al Di Meola, Dorothy Moore, Larry Gatlin, and Funkadelic each sat on a peacock wicker chair for their 1970s album covers.

This might seem like a weird blip of a trend over a few years in the 1970s, but a closer look reveals how deep the wicker chair portrait tradition goes. Spoiler alert: a full century.

The video above tracks the origin of the peacock wicker chair portrait and tells the unlikely story of where this unique giant chair came from.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. And if you’re interested in supporting our video journalism, you can become a member of the Vox Video Lab on YouTube.

Author: Estelle Caswell

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