Virgin Killer - Scorpions
Scorpions may be one of the all-time best-selling heavy metal bands, with over 100 million records sold worldwide and thirteen consecutive albums reaching the top ten in their native Germany. But today, they're most well known for two things, the persistent and compelling rumor thatthe CIA wrote their biggest hit, and the time they used child sexual exploitation imagery as a record cover (“child sexual exploitation imagery” is what we'd traditionally call child porn, but let's not use that term, "child porn" is an oxymoron, as porn is made by and for consenting adults).
1976's Virgin Killer features a naked ten-year-old posed provocatively, with a shattered glass effect (as if a crack in the camera lens) obscuring her genitalia. We won't be reproducing the image here. The cover art was controversial at the time, and an alternate cover depicting the band members was used in some countries; in others, the record was sold sealed in opaque black plastic, but that seems to be the extent of it. It wasn't until over thirty years later that any real controversy occurred when the Wikipedia page for the album was reported to the FBI. The FBI investigation prompted the UK's internet watchdog to blacklist the page, effectively blocking anyone in the UK from editing Wikipedia. That decision was reversed. But in 2015, a court in Sweden considered the record to constitute child pornography (their term).
The band members are split on the Virgin Killer controversy, with lead guitarist Uli Jon Roth lamenting that he "should've done everything in [his] power to stop it," and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker defended it while claiming that the image was just used to get attention. Lead singer Klaus Meine said that the image was the record company's idea to drum up controversy and help album sales, but still insisted that it was intended as art, not pornography.
Common sense prevailed when a 2023 remastered edition of the album used the alternate cover depicting the band members.