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August 29, 2018

Mariora Goschen: The Young Girl Featured on the Controversial “Blind Faith” Album Cover in 1969

1969 saw the formation of one of rocks most underrated and under-appreciated supergroups in the form of Blind Faith. Formed by Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood initially, bassist Ric Grech and drummer Ginger Baker would join a little later and the outcome of this musical melding of minds was their self titled album, Blind Faith, released in August 1969. On the cover of the record is a naked, 11-year-old girl named Mariora Goschen.

This is the cover art for the album Blind Faith by the English supergroup Blind Faith.

Blind Faith wasn’t only known for the instrumental prowess of the group’s players. The album’s cover was one of the most controversial in rock history. It featured a photo of a nude 11-year-old holding a phallic-shaped metallic model of a futuristic airplane. “Eric and I put the band together, because musically we thought we had something to offer,” said Winwood. “But things started to escalate a little out of our hands. I still think the album was a great album and it stands up by itself as a great album, by a great band.”

The cover was deemed too controversial for the American market, but was later reinstated on a subsequent reissue. “At the time I didn’t think anything of it at all,” admitted Winwood. “But now I can see how controversial it is, because I have children of my own.”

US cover

The cover art was created by photographer Bob Seidemann, a personal friend and former flatmate of Clapton’s who is primarily known for his photos of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. In the mid-1990s, in an advertising circular intended to help sell lithographic reprints of the famous album cover, he explained his thinking behind the image:
“I could not get my hands on the image until out of the mist a concept began to emerge. To symbolize the achievement of human creativity and its expression through technology a spaceship was the material object. To carry this new spore into the universe, innocence would be the ideal bearer, a young girl, a girl as young as Shakespeare's Juliet. The spaceship would be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the girl, the fruit of the tree of life. 
“The spaceship could be made by Mick Milligan, a jeweler at the Royal College of Art. The girl was another matter. If she were too old it would be cheesecake, too young and it would be nothing. The beginning of the transition from girl to woman, that is what I was after. That temporal point, that singular flare of radiant innocence. Where is that girl?”
Seidemann wrote that he approached a girl reported to be 14 years old on the London Underground about modeling for the cover, and eventually met with her parents, but that she proved too old for the effect he wanted. Instead, the model he used was her younger sister Mariora Goschen, who was reported to be 11 years old. Mariora initially requested a horse as a fee but was instead paid £40.

Bob Seidemann's Blind Faith at Brooklyn Museum's "Who Shot Rock & Roll" exhibit in 2009. (Photo by Eric Weiss)

Bizarre rumors both contributed to and were fueled by the controversy, including that the girl was Baker’s daughter or was a groupie kept as a slave by the band. The image, titled “Blind Faith” by Seidemann, became the inspiration for the name of the band itself, which had been unnamed when the artwork was commissioned. According to Seidemann: “It was Eric who elected to not print the name of the band on the cover. The name was instead printed on the wrapper, when the wrapper came off, so did the type.” This had been done previously for the Rolling Stones’ 1964 debut album, the Beatles’ albums Rubber Soul in 1965 and Revolver in 1966, and Traffic’s self-titled 1968 debut album.

In 1994, more than a quarter of a century after her one-off photo shoot, a 36 years old Mariora Goschen said in an interview: “The nudity didn’t bother me. I hardly noticed I had breasts. Life was far too hectic. I was mad about animals and much taken up with family and friends. But now, when people tell me they can remember what they were doing when they first saw the cover, and the effect it had on them, I’m thrilled to bits.” She added, “By the way, I’m still waiting for Eric Clapton to ring me about the horse.”

A portrait photo of Mariora Goschen in 2014. (Tom Pilston/ The Times)



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