Richard Avedon and Kenny Rankin’s ‘Family’ Album

(Last Updated On: December 2, 2014)

I confess I had never heard of Kenny Rankin until one of our readers pointed me toward this album cover.  The cover is from Rankin’s second studio album, Family, and features the musician holding his two daughters Gena and Chandra.  What I particularly love about this cover is that it is a simple, straight-up photographic portrait of father and children, except that everyone is nude.  The cover symbolically says, “This is just me and my children, no pretenses.”  The album was released in 1970 and is very much in keeping with the hippie spirit of the times.

Ray Harris over at Novel Activist has frequently pointed out that children raised in free-spirited, unconventional households, including kids who have appeared in challenging artistic images, often wind up going on to do amazing things, and Rankin’s kids definitely fit that trend.  Gena Rankin-Ray is apparently Vice President of Operations at Freshwire and has held several other important positions in the music industry.  And according to this article, Chandra has a doctorate, though the article does not specify what she is a doctor of.

Anyway, a beautiful cover and a beautiful family.  Rankin passed away in 2009 of lung cancer, and it’s a shame he left us before I even got to know his work.  Meanwhile, some of his music is available on Spotify if you want to check it out.

Edit: Man, talk about missing the boat.  If I had only read all of the long article I posted earlier, I would’ve learned that the image was actually taken by world-class photographer Richard Avedon!  Now that’s something to be excited about!  Avedon was, of course, one of the most well-respected photographers in his field, most famous for his glamor and fashion photography, as well as a certain nude portrait of actress Nastassja Kinski with a snake.

Richard Avedon - Kenny Rankin - Family (cover)

Richard Avedon – Kenny Rankin – Family (cover)

Wikipedia: Richard Avedon

Kenny Rankin (official site)

Wikipedia: Kenny Rankin

14 thoughts on “Richard Avedon and Kenny Rankin’s ‘Family’ Album

  1. It is also relevant on this site to take note of which on-topic albums came out earlier, and therefore ON VINYL LP.
    The large size of LP covers is the obvious reason why it makes such a difference.

    Such albums include:

    Blind Faith – Blind Faith
    Virgin Killer – Scorpions
    Family – Kenny Rankin
    On the Seventh Day – On the Seventh Day
    Tschaikovsky, Symphony No. 2, “Little Russian” – Berlin Symphony Orchestra
    Woodstock, Three Days of Peace and Music, 2-LP set
    Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin
    Heroes are Hard to Find – Fleetwood Mac

    • P.S. Remember that in the case of “Virgin Killer”, the on-topic cover was NOT the one that was used in the United States.
      There are online sources like “GEMM” though which foreign-made vinyl LPs can be obtained.

      • Yet another type of vinyl LP cover is when it features a
        child of ambiguous gender.

        I own the LP “The Best of the Early Years” by the Ohio Players. The front cover shows the top half of a large photo of a nude black child, and the back cover has the bottom half of the picture.
        It is kind of a side/rear pose.

        I find it impossible to determine if it is a girl with sort-of-short African-American style hair, or a boy with
        sort-of-long African-American style hair.

        • Interesting cover. I don’t know the gender of the child either. If it were a different time frame I’d call it as a girl, but given that this is from the 70s, it very well could be a boy. I don’t suppose it matters much given the context. But if you have the record, you can search the credits, which should be somewhere on the sleeve. See if they identify the photographer, and if so, we might be able to find out more info.

          • Good suggestion!
            The text on the album cover gives the photographer as Garry Gross.

            Unless he is a namesake, this was the photographer who took those famous pictures of Brooke Shields at the age of 10.
            Six years later, she and her mother unsuccessfully sued him in an attempt to prevent his re-releasing those pictures for public sale.

          • I was not. I did a fairly thorough search, and although I found several images from Gross’s series of Brooke Shields (some of which I had never seen before), I never found out anything about this photo. Sorry.

  2. Another album of interest that I own is “ON THE SEVENTH DAY”, which seems to be the name of the group and of the album.
    The cover of that vinyl LP features a little girl and little boy, frontally nude.
    The picture is such that I find it difficult to determine if it is from a photograph or a drawing.

    P.S. Here is a relevant link, but unfortunately AllMusic did not include an image of the album cover.

    http://www.allmusic.com/album/on-the-seventh-day1-mw0001106297

  3. P.S. ALSO, thanks for digging up the information about the family, which is very interesting!
    I am sorry to hear that Rankin has died, which I did not know until now.

    • No problem. Initially I hadn’t planned to reveal the information about the children’s adult lives, but I recalled what Ray Harris said about children who have been raised in unconventional households often going on to do great things and felt it was worth bringing up here. I really think he was onto something.

      • Moreover, I just found out that the photo (as well as the clothed portrait of the entire family on the back of the album) was taken by Richard Avedon.

  4. Thanks a lot for putting up this post.
    I was the reader who told you about this album,
    and I am happy that you were able to produce the scan,
    because I have neither the equipment nor the know-how
    to be able to scan things.

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