The lead singer of The Strokes will release his debut album sometime shortly, however the cover art has already emerged. It pays tribute to the iconic dog and gramophone image, best known today as the logo for various music companies, including Casablancas’ label RCA.



I’d always just assumed that the image had originated as a logo, perhaps because the owner of the company loved dogs or some such. However, the dog in question actually existed. His name was Nipper.

Nipper earned his name because he always tried to bite visitors on the leg, which makes him sound like exactly the kind of horrid little pencil-sharperner I hate encountering in other’s homes. But there must have been something really special about this dog because after the death of his owner Mark Henry Barraud in 1887 his brothers Philip and Francis continued to care for him.

Francis was an artist and not only did he inherit the little dog, he also took ownership of a cylinder phonograph and recordings of his late brother’s voice. When he played the recordings, he was taken by the way Nipper would look around and wonder where his old owner’s voice was coming from.


It inspired the painting “His Late Master’s Voice”.


It would later be changed to “His Master’s Voice” so that consumers weren’t made to feel too maudlin upon viewing it.

The painting became a logo and icon largely because Barraud himself recognised its commercial potential. He originally pitched it to the Edison Bell company but they thought it was a ridiculous notion that a dog would listen to a phonograph. However the Gramaphone Company ultimately purchased it for 100 pounds sterling after some modification.

Soon their US Partner Victor Records were using a simplified drawing as their logo and reminding consumers to “Look for the dog”.



By that time Nipper had past away, having been buried in 1895 in a beautiful park surrounded by Magnolia trees. And when the park was eventually built upon, a plaque was placed on the resulting building to commemorate Nipper’s resting place.

This pales in comparison to his ongoing status as the mascot for the HMV Group, the most impressive evidence of which is the four-ton Nipper that sits on a building in Albany, New York.


And the Nipper stained glass window.


Not only has this diminutive dog garnered enough large-scale public tributes to satisfy a third world despot, he’s inspired generations of impersonators and posthumously fathered a puppy called Chipper.


And now on the cover of Phrazes for the Young he sits intently at the feet of Casablancas, who seems blissfully unaware that he’s the second most famous guy in the photo.