Artist Michael Whelan • Birth ♋ Thu 29 Jun 1950 (72 years, 0 months, 6 days, 26304 total living days)

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Michael Raymond Whelan is an USA artist of imaginative realism. For more than 30 years, he worked as an illustrator specializing in science fiction and fantasy cover art. Since the mid-1990s, he has pursued a fine art career, selling non-commissioned paintings through galleries in the United States and through his website. (Text and image taken from Wikipedia)

The paintings of Elric of Melniboné originally used for Michael Moorcock‘s fantasy novels, have been used for all four Cirith Ungol studio albums. The cover art has their own titles and were all made in the 1970’s. Some of the paintings are available at Whelan’s webshop. Here is an overview of which chronologically painting has been used for which album cover.

Elric Of Melniboné (1976)

The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.


Sailor on the Sea of Fate (1976)

Michael Whelan has done 7 full color paintings, many black and whites illustrations, and drawings of Michael Moorcock’s anti-hero Elric of Melnibone. This painting is his favorite.

The full painting can be seen and bought at the official Michael Whelan website and here.


Urish’s Bane (1976)

A fascinating book that gave me the fun of painting a “no-holds-barred” demon. In many ways I did this one for me–dark–and I’m pleased it has received such a positive response from the readers.

The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.

Stormbringer (1977)

King of the Dead (1977)

The full painting can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.


White Wolf (1977)

Elric derives his strength and magical powers from his sword Stormbringer which feeds on the souls of those it kills.

The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.

Elric Demonslayer (1980)

Originally done for the frontispiece of a special hardcover edition of THE VANISHING TOWER by Michael Moorcock.

Demonslayer (incorrectly is Dragonslayer). The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website and here.

Elric and The Sinking City (1984)

As Michael has said many times, he loves painting texture and he really enjoyed it for this cover. He also enjoyed portraying Elric in a more somber and reflective pose than on his other covers.

The full painting can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website and here.

Sister Mary Came From The Shadows (1988) – (Little Sisters of Eluria by Stephen King)

Elric in Exile (2012)



    The Corroseum: Your covers were done by the formidable M. Whelan. How did you manage to get his permission to use his works? Do you consider the elf warrior on all your covers some kind of trademark for the band, some kind of mascot? What would be the best album cover of the band in your opinion and why

    GREG: Michael is the finest fantasy artist around. I think maybe some people buy the album for the cover art and throw the record away! The series of Elric paintings gives the albums a nice sense of continuity. And Michael has a couple more Elric paintings that could be used for a new album. Personally, I think the F & F cover is one of the best album covers ever.

    Metal Heart: How did you get in contact with Michael Whelan by that way, the drawer of your very impressive album-covers? Just phoned him and he said: Yeah? Has he ever heard your music and what does he think of Cirith Ungol? Did you have to pay for the covers a lot?

    ROBERT: At the time we wanted a “Sword and Sorcery” (S&S) theme cover called “Berserker” by Frank Frazetta (a famous S&S artist) but it was taken by the country rock band Molly Hatchet! I was reading “Stormbringer” by Michael Moorcock at the time and was thinking man this is the ultimate cover art! I never thought we could use it but I contacted the publisher who got me in touch with Michael Whelan, who is one of the few people in our entire music career who was honest, friendly and kind, and he let us use it. I think we were the first album covers he had done at the time and we really wanted to use all his “Elric” series on our covers which we did! I told him that I always wanted to buy the painting for the cover Stormbringer from him if we made it big but we never did. He was quite successful then, but now he is probably the world foremost fantasy artist/painter/illustrator and his paintings cost $$$. I think he liked our music especially “Frost and Fire”. We really didn’t pay him much money back then but now I’m sure he would be very expensive. Recently he painted Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell” and some covers for the band Sepultura. It is funny, Deep Purple had an album named after the book and we got the cover. Blue Oyster Cult also had a song “Bane of the Black Sword” which was based on Michael Moorcock’s writing. Moorcock himself wrote and played with an English band “Hawkwind”.

    Truemetal: As usual you used Michael Whelan’s painting for the album cover. How does this collaboration begin? Is he a Cirith Ungol fan?

    Rob: This fantastic painting we chose for the cover, “Elric in Exile”, perfectly reflects the dark and brooding mood of this album. Yes, it was painted by Michael Whelan, whose art graces our 4 other studio albums, our single, “Witch’s Game”, and our live album, “I’m Alive”. He is a world-renowned artist, whose masterpieces have been featured on albums by bands such as; Sepultura and Smoulder, and authors; Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, and Arthur C Clarke.

    Ever since we forged a relationship with Michael Whelan with our first album, “Frost & Fire”, our dream was to use his series of Elrić of Melnibone covers from the 1980’s DAW Book editions, for all our future covers. Of course, back then we were a young band and had no idea what the future held for us, or how many albums we would ever produce. Once again, we are honored and privileged, to have this renowned artist’s work again gracing our latest album, and hope to continue to work with him on any future projects! He has been one of the bands best and most stedfast friends throughout the years, even coming out to see the band play in Brooklyn, New York at the “Defenders of the Old” festival!

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