There was an intense buzz about the band and its debut album Blind Faith, which on release topped Billboard's Pop Albums chart in America (as it did the UK charts) and peaked at #40 on the Black Albums chart, an impressive feat for a British rock quartet. In addition, Rolling Stone published three reviews of the album in their September 6, 1969 issue, which were written by Ed Leimbacher, Lester Bangs, and John Morthland.
They began to work out songs early in 1969, and in February and March the group was in London at Morgan Studios, preparing for the beginnings of basic tracks for their album although the first few almost finished songs didn't show up until they were at Olympic Studios in April and May under the direction of producer Jimmy Miller. The music community was already aware of the linkup, despite Clapton's claim that he was cutting an album of his own on which Winwood would play. The rock press wasn't buying any of it, knowing that Baker was involved as well, and then the promoters and record companies got involved, pushing those concerned for an album and a tour.
The recording of their album was interrupted by such a tour of Scandinavia, then a U.S. tour from July 11 (Newport) to August 24 (Hawaii), supported by Free and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. Although a chart topper the LP was recorded hurriedly and side two consisted of just two songs, one of them a 15-minute jam entitled "Do What You Like." Nevertheless the band was able to produce two classic hits; Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home" and Clapton's "Presence of the Lord."
An expanded, deluxe edition of the album was released in 2001, with previously unreleased tracks and 'jams' included. Two live tracks from the Hyde Park concert, Sleeping In The Ground by Sam Myers and the Rolling Stones song "Under My Thumb" are also available on Winwood's 4-CD retrospective The Finer Things.
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 space ship 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 space ship would be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the girl, the fruit of the tree of life.
The space ship could be made by Mick Milligan, a jeweler at the Royal College or 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 Tube 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.
Bizarre rumors both surfaced 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. This had never been done before. The name was printed on the wrapper, when the wrapper came off, so did the type." In actuality, however, it had been done before, many times, in fact, including on The Rolling Stones' 1964 debut album, Traffic's self-titled 1968 album, also in the 1965 album Rubber Soul and in the 1966 album Revolver (both by The Beatles).