Classic Rock Corner: The Greatest Band Logos of All Time, Part 2
An early example of rock art...
We're back to reveal the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the cappo di tutti cappi of classic-rock band logos evah! And when we say "greatest," we look for a combination of things including memorability, longevity, graphic design, influence and appearances.
And yes, there will be shouts of joy, tears of rage and many fists shaken at computer screens from those whose faves either made it, didn't make it high enough or were left off. Leave comments and death threats in the box at the end. Ain't interactive media grand?
8. Van Halen
7. The Who
And we'll pick up things in the Windy City with...
5. Chicago: Perhaps the most consistent logo in rock history, showing up on all 30-plus albums by the band with the big-city name. It's also the most versatile, appearing not only as a graphic, but chocolate, carved wood, handtooled leather, a garden, letter-sealing wax, woodcuts, and a fingerprint.
For many, in the days before Photoshop, an actual model had to be built, then photographed (the "chocolate" cover of Chicago X is actually masonite). The logo's origins of the logo lie with Chicago's producer/guru James Guercio. Assigned to shepherd the group by Columbia Records, he wanted to create a logo that would replace photos of the band for a more collective identity.
Guercio worked with singer-turned-designer Dean Torrence (of Jan & Dean fame) to create an early version that lifted the big curved "C" from the Coca-Cola logo. Unsatisfied with the rest of the lettering, Guercio turned the project over to Columbia art director John Berg. He refined the logo with sketches, then collaborated with artist and model maker Nick Fasciano to create the final version that appeared on the cover of 1969's Chicago Transit Authority.
By the follow-up, the band dropped the last two words (after the real Chicago Transit Authority threatened lawsuit), and its slightly tweaked logo become one for the ages.
4. AC/DC: These Aussies just gave a devastatingly rocking live show at Toyota Center, and their famous logo - plastered on T-shirts, posters, hats, calendars and even boxer shorts (like the ones memorably flashed by Angus Young during "The Jack" - oozes the hard-edge power of the band's music.
It was designed by artist/letterer Gerald Huerta, who was commissioned by Atlantic Records' Bob Defrin for the group's Let There Be Rock album. Inspired by a previous job with Blue Öyster Cult (itself a pioneering band of umlaut rock), Huerta combined a metallic look with a gothic letter styling inspired by the Gutenberg Bible.
The lightning bolt is perhaps a nod to the electrical nature of the band's name, not bisexualism as religious nuts tried to proclaim in the '70s.Then again, they thought the Eagles were Satan worshippers.
3. The Grateful Dead: Featured on tens of thousands of bumper stickers on the back of VW buses, the Dead's "Steal Your Face" logo is interesting in that it first appeared years after the group had its initial success, and was meant for more utilitarian than design aesthetics.
The logo was originally commissioned to Bob Thomas in 1969, a twist on a previous logo designed for the band's road cases to make them more easily identifiable (this was the era of multi-band festivals, you know). Thomas added a skull to the road case design. It remains a classic with a '60s/'70s colorful psychedelic feel, and adorned the cover of the band's 1976 Steal Your Face record.
The Dead has other logos including teddy bears, skull 'n roses, and Jerry's hirsute face, but it's this red, white, and blue that's the keeper.
2. KISS: Self-proclaimed All Around Genius Gene Simmons may be an obnoxious blowhard, but the bassist/singer is a marketing genius when it comes to band branding. Sure, you can see the KISS logo on their records and T-shirts, but don't forget about the toys, dolls, toothbrushes, condoms and even a friggin' KISS casket for the ultimate journey.
The logo was designed from a sketch by original guitarist Ace Frehley in 1973 for the band's self-titled debut. And - despite the outcry from parents - it's neither shorthand for "Knights in Satan's Service," nor symbolic of their affinity for Nazi beliefs with the lighting bolt "SS" design as tribute to the dreaded German solider unit.
In fact, both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are Jewish, and in the German market only, the "SS" is modified to look like a backward "ZZ." It's unclear if Frehley, who was fired from the group, gets any residuals for his work.
Well, kiddies, we've counted all the way down to #1 (thanks, Casey Kasem!). And that leads us to the Greatest Classic Rock Band Logo Ever which belongs to...
1. The Rolling Stones: Ah yes...those lips, that tongue, the delicious red color...is there any band logo more identifiable with a group than this one?
Created in 1971 for the Stones' own record label by then 25-year-old art student John Pasche, the concept (at Mick Jagger's direction), was based just as much on paintings of the Hindu goddess Kali - frequently shown with protruding tongue - as the singer's own trademark puckers.
It first appeared on the inner sleeves of the band's Sticky Fingers record, whose cover was designed by Andy Warhol and thus led to the mistaken impression that the New York pop-art icon also did the logo.
Every inch the former business student that he was, Jagger and the band copyrighted the logo, giving Pasche just L50 for the task, with a bonus of L200 a couple of years later as a nod to its success. However, Pasche got a bit more proper remuneration a few months ago when London's Victoria & Albert Museum bought the original black-and white-drawing for $92,500.
Well, that's the list. Internet posters and disgruntled rockers - flame away! - Bob Ruggiero
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