The Beastie Boys have been described as iconic, original, and influential. However they were also incredibly spontaneous, which is apparent when you hear artists talk about album covers they played a role in creating for the legendary group.
Juxtapoz magazine, who has a whole issue devoted to the Beastie Boys, interviewed the artists behind the band's cover artworks. While some artists were contracted in the ordinary way, some were just randomly hit up by a Beastie who liked their style. But each story has some magic that attests to the group's charm.
Glen E. Freidman shot pictures of the group on the street. He took happenstance photo of the Beastie Boys that effortlessly captured their free, down to earth aesthetic. It became the cover of "Check Your Head." However photographer Bruce Davidson was called by the band who was asked to use one of his photos for the cover of "Ill Communication." Davidson asked to hear their music first. When he heard it, he said he couldn't make heads or tails of it, calling it a "secret language." Nevertheless, he said to them that the music was good and allowed his picture to be used.
The magazine itself goes in deeper, explaining the extended stories behind the covers. For instance, graffiti artist Cey Adams talks about designing the band's first logo, and how it lead to him becoming the head of the in-house design team at Def Jam records. Apparently Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin made him learn graphic design fast: "They were just like "do it," and they assumed it was right, and if it went to the printer and came back looking like a traditoinal ad, it went right. If it came back looking like shit they would be like, "You’re an idiot. Why do we have you around here?""
As time passed, the group began playing a more active role in the visuals accompanying their music, though in their youth the band was more carefree, and yes, spontaneous. The issue can be bought here and through iTunes.