A Few Logo’s To Add To Gigwise’s List

A company I’d love to work for tweeted a link that has eaten my morning, thankfully I worked over the weekend so I have a few moments to enable my own logo addiction. Besides, I am someone that would watch a show titled “Behind The Logo” for hours.

Gigwise published a list of the 50 best band logos, and while their list is interesting and thorough, a few bands shot to mind that I couldn’t believe they either missed or omitted.  The list is a little obscure ska/punk/metal heavy and clearly left out a few obvious ones.

One sidebar: I find it pretty funny that underground or counter-culture bands place such a heavy emphasis on the logo or “brand”.  I also might disagree with Gigwise over font focused logos.  I think typography can say a lot without having to rely too heavily on pictures, if anything sometimes it can say more.

With that said, we’ll start with the most obvious omission:

The logo for the most famous rock band of all time has perhaps the simplest origin story. It was designed in 1963 by Ivor Arbiter — merely the man who sold Ringo Starr his drums — and applied on Ringo’s bass drumhead by London sign painter Eddie Stokes.  You could replace the band’s name and you would still recognize this font as belonging to four lads from Liverpool.  Now, one could argue that the brand is only recognizable because of the band, but there is something quietly elegant about the extended T, almost like the band itself is emerging from a heard of wannabes.  The centered “the”, the languid B, the way the word “the beat” kind of stands out, just like the music, there’s something soothing, familiar and charismatic about these two words in this particular font.  Like Sunday’s Wapo article on Facebook’s design, or the Gap logo, its no longer a logo, its just a part of life.

Ironic that the band’s first commercial mega-hit was a song titled “Give It Away”, a reference to an experience lead singer Anthony Kiedis had with an ex girlfriend regarding altruistic behavior and the value of selflessness.  All that aside, I can’t believe Gigwise would omit the Chili Peppers and will lean on one of my favorite sites, Logo Factory Blog, for a little back history.

RHCP front man Anthony Kiedis, as outlined in his book Scar Tissue, the symbol has no particular meaning, but began as a simple icon he drew on a piece of paper when asked by record label executives to create a band logo for promotional purposes. The eight pronged asterisk is a popular tattoo, and is often worn by fans as a sign of their affinity with the band. The merchandising rights to the Red Hot Chili Peppers logo are owned by Bravado International who recently sued Back-Lite, a Florida clothing company, for $11 million dollars after the company used the logo on a single jacket, at the request of an individual customer. 

Of course, fan subculture involves cultural myths including Angel’s nether regions and human orifices, but I sort of believe Kiedis’ account.  I’ve seen this as a tattoo one many times, the logo still adorns their drum set and I’d argue, the band technically has two logos: one being the asterisk, the other being their name in alternating white and red letters.  Oh yeah, Logo Factory has a pretty neat band logo quiz here btw.

Speaking of famous black and red logos, no question that RUN DMC deserve a place on this list.  J5 made the list, and sure, they’ve got a great logo, but why no black hat tip to Reverend Run?
Sure, its a simple font and somewhat bland design, but the impact of this logo is still felt.  They haven’t had to mess with it to stay relevant.  People have ripped it off to sell other ideas or products.  It’s still political even for different reasons. It’s timeless, and the shirts still sell.  The end.
Google this band and take in the range of artwork that has been done with their logo and identity.  Yet, the basic logo still finds it’s way onto the poster every time.  I’m not even a big Allman Brothers fan, but I know what this logo means. It means country, rock, folk and one endless instrumental riff, which is why I think the logo does a great job of representing their flavor of music.  The letters weave together just like the band does, and one has trouble finding where one word, letter, song or verse begins and ends.  It doesn’t have a political message and isn’t considered a graphic, but admit it, whether its peaches or mushrooms, this logo has been adorned with some mighty fine art.

I’d like to see numbers behind stoner consumers.  Because I’m willing to bet, that they outbuy, outmerch and outdo Miley Cyrus or Justin Beiber tweenagers any day, any show, any year.  Despite their perceived anti-consumerism, nobody buys like Patagonia wearing hippies.   With that in mind, my short list isn’t complete without the above. 

I’m guessing Gigwise would find this suggestion abhorrent, but speaking objectively, you can’t ignore the purchase power of Phish.  They’ve taken over where the Dead left off and demand a cult following that’s indisputable.  There’s something to be said about a band that inspires such loyalty that pacifist hacky-sackers will go to blows over your primacy as a band.  Click here for some great stoner conspiracy theories on hidden letters, pictures or pipes and to read about the injunction they’ve been given to control bootlegging and logo usage.  “Phans”, “phriends”, “phamily:, “phiends”, “Phishheads”, when you create a language, you’ve surpassed a logo.

Honorable mentions go to Journey, ABBA, Jimmy Buffett and Madonna.  I mention you because while I can “see” your logo even when I write your name, something just didn’t feel right adding them to a list of Best Of.   Buffett was a really tough one to ignore given Margaritaville is like Disneyland for 50-year olds. Madonna, on the other hand, has opted to start her own religion rather than a brand and Journey, well, I couldn’t find any info explaining that damn scarab, but it did inspire a cover band and a video game.


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