Members of rock band Canned Heat shared a house on Lookout Mountain Avenue in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles, right next door to Joni Mitchell’s place—until it burned down in 1969. Later that year the charred structure served as the setting for the cover of Steppenwolf’s At Your Birthday Party, shot by photographer Henry Diltz and designed by art director Gary Burden. “We just walked in there with a birthday cake, sat down and took these pictures,” recalls Diltz. “We had some bottles of champagne and everybody got a little juiced, so we had a little party in the burned-down house. It was hilarious.” Producer Gabriel Meckler stood in for absent guitarist Michael Monarch, donning a hat and sunglasses to make the substitution less noticeable. Burden designed a unique cover featuring a cutout that revealed the group photo in the gatefold. He drew a sketch for the artwork he wanted to surround the shot: a Civil War battle with the soldiers depicted as Mickey Mouse-esque caricatures. The record label balked at paying artist Rick Griffin to paint the picture properly, and to Burden’s dismay simply printed his sketch instead.

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