Basquiat Designed an Album Cover for a Grimy Punk-Ska Band 35 Years Ago. Now, a Limited Edition of the Album Is Being Reissued
Originals of the record regularly sell for thousands of dollars, though oddly almost no one knows the band.
Basquiat’s 1984 design for the cover of The Off’s First Record.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a music fanatic and wannabe drummer who before he hit superstardom as a visual artist often needed cash—fast. Sometimes the two worlds collided. Once was in 1981 when the young Basquiat agreed to design an album sleeve for his friends in the punk-ska band, The Offs, in exchange for $400, which his mother needed to pay her rent.
Basquiat’s design for the album, called simply First Record, included some of the earliest examples of motifs that would come to define his work—a cartoon-like, black-and-white totemic figure standing atop a triangular mound with a crown of thorns hovering above his head. The punk band’s name appears written in Basquiat’s signature scrawl in three spots. Today, original copies of the album sell for thousands of dollars.