Ellen Michaels: The Salsoul Orchestra Girl

An unfinished and quick dedication to one of the most memorable models to ever grace a series of record sleeves, and probably my first cover art crush. The Salsoul Orchestra were an incredible band, who created timeless music that still falls under dancefloor fire (and probably most famously sampled by Madonna for ‘Vogue’), and it was Ellen Michaels on the cover of Nice ‘n’ Naasty that made me pick the record out of a stack of second-hand joints and start listening to them. It cost about £2 from Northside Records in Melbourne, and was an instant musical education.

During the 70s Ellen was based in New York, becoming one of the city’s top models for advertising campaigns and book covers. It’s the work on record sleeves that stands out though, as well as The Salsoul Orchestra she was the body and face for Eric Clapton’s E.C. Is Back LP and the snake woman on the Barrabas full length Watch Out.

Funnily enough when the Nice ‘n’ Naasty photo was re-edited and used once more for Christmas Jollies (and Part 2) later in the year the censors attacked the label deciding that having her bare ass associated with Christmas was unexceptable, forcing a rather dodgy last second edit of some fur trim to be added.

Now a nature photographer you can check out her work at http://www.ellenmichaelsphotos.com. Her credits say that she appeared on countless sleeves during this era, but the complete list seems to be lost to time.