Visual art goes hand and hand with music and a logo is no exception. Hundreds of dedicated fans purchase extended merchandise from their favorite artists with their iconic identity plastered all over it. Whether it’s hovering 50 feet over your favorite artist, on a sticker on your old file cabinet, or scribbled on the kids desk next to you in school there’s nothing quite like seeing your favorite musician’s mark. Here’s my personal top 10 favorite musicians logo’s of all time in no order:
Logo: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Designed By: Anthony Kiedis
This bold asterisk-like icon was designed by the band front man, Anthony Kiedis in 1984. Legend has it he sketched it on a piece of paper when the label needed a logo last minute. It’s often referred to as the “Star of Infinity”. The band refers to the logo as the “Angel’s A-Hole” as a well known inside joke.
Logo: The Beatles
Designed By: Eddie Stokes
In May of 1963, Ivor Arbiter owner of the London music store Drum City unwittingly designed the simple yet iconic The Beatles “drop-T” logo. Of The Beatles Arbiter said, “I had a phone call from the shop to say that someone called Brian Epstein was there with a drummer. Here was this drummer, Ringo, Schmingo, whatever his name was. At that time I certainly hadn’t heard of The Beatles. Every band was going to be big in those days!
Epstein requested the band’s name appear on Ringo’s kick drum. Arbiter sketched the logo including the iconic “drop-T” on paper. The reasoning behind this move was to emphasize the word beat although I don’t think it translated that way in the end. Drum City was paid £5 for the design and was hand painted by Eddie Stokes.
Here’s a photo of Ringo playing the original hand painted drumhead that was delivered to him on May 12, 1963.
Logo: Rolling Stones
Designed By: John Pasche, Art Student, 1970
The big red mouth Rolling Stones logo, also known as the “Tongue and Lip Design”, dates back to 1970, and was created by the British art student John Pasche. The Rolling Stones logo actually represents the intense and rebellious mouth of Mick Jagger. The tongue is basically an indication to the Hindu goddess Kali, goddess of everlasting energy, and signifies the use of free expression in their music.
Logo: Led Zeppelin
Designed By: All 4 Band Members
The symbols came about because the band (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham) decided their 1971 album couldn’t be called “Led Zeppelin IV.” Jimmy Page explained “We decided that on the fourth album, we would deliberately play down the group name, and there wouldn’t be any information whatsoever on the outer jacket. Names, titles and things like that do not mean a thing. . . . I had to talk like hell to get that one done.”
Adds Robert Plant: “Each of us decided to go away and choose a metaphysical type of symbol which somehow represented each of us individually–be it a state of mind, an opinion, or something we felt strongly about, or whatever. Then we were to come back together and present our symbols.”
Designed By: Joel Zimmerman aka Deadmau5
Joel Zimmerman aka Deadmau5 (pronounced Dead Mouse), former web designer and now dance music icon designed his own iconic mouse head logo. Part of the Deadmau5 logo was a grinning mouse head with oversized ears. He decided to turn it into a mask. He contacted a firm in Toronto who made props for films, who agreed to build it. The first time he wore it at a club in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the audience were stunned. “I remember putting it on and looking out of the visor and seeing everyone in utter bewilderment,” he says. “They were like, who is this guy? Is he for real? But they warmed up to it real fast. When the lights came on in the helmet and they started blinking to the beat, the place went crazy.”
Iconic Deadmau5 performing live under intense visual stimulation.
Designed By: Ace Frehley
Ace Frehley, Kiss’s lead guitarist designed this iconic mark when it first appeared on the band’s follow up debut album “Hotter Than Hell”. The new name made its first appearance when Frehley scribbled a version over Wicked Lester on a poster outside a club where the band was scheduled to play. When he created the now-iconic logo, making the “SS” look like lightning bolts, the runic letters appeared similar to the insignia of the Nazi SS, a symbol that is now illegal to display in Germany. Since 1979 most of the band’s album covers and merchandise in Germany have used a modified version of the logo, in which the ‘S’ characters are modified and rounded (see German tour guide cover below).
Logo: Daft Punk
Designed By: Guy-Manuel deHomem-Christo
Daft Punk’s iconic “patch” logo was created by designer Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and was meant to replicate the patches that many punk bands have their own emblems stiched on. By taking the form of a patch, it symbolized and emphasized their anti-celebrity stance. As bandmate Thomas Bangalter explains, “To us, the Daft Punk logo should be the star — the concept is to keep us more low-profile than the music itself.”
Logo: Wu-Tang Clan
Designed By: DJ Allah Mathematics
Designed by DJ Allah Mathematics, this bird/batman like symbol has remained one of the most iconic symbols in hip hop. The font choice seems horrible but is somehow redeemed and balanced out by the shape and gives it some Asian inspiration.
Logo: Grateful Dead
Designed By: Bob Thomas
This Grateful Dead logo is just one of the different versions that the artist Bob Thomas did for the band throughout their career. The logotype was originally commissioned to Bob Thomas by the band in 1969. It was a version of a former logo that had been designed with the purpose of marking the flight-cases of the band in order to identify them easily during their tours. The original logo only featured the blue, red and white circle with the ray, and was usually sprayed on the flight-cases. This way, Thomas added the skull image to it. The logo was not used on an album cover until the release of “Steal Your Face” in 1976. It was also used later in a couple of compilations, and it still remains the main identity for the band
In 1992, a year before his death, Bob Thomas revisited the logo to produce 50 signed, numbered and hand colored prints as a hardwood block engraving.
Logo: Sex Pistols
Designed By: Jamie Reid
Jamie Reid is a British artist and anarchist. His work, featuring letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note, came close to defining the image of punk rock, particularly in the UK. His best known works include the Sex Pistols album “Never Mind the Bollocks”, “Here’s the Sex Pistols” and the singles “Anarchy in the UK“, “God Save The Queen”. He created the ransom-note look used with the Sex Pistols graphics while he was designing Suburban Press, a radical political magazine he ran for five years. This logo set the trend for a whole era of Punk imagery.
What musician’s logos are in your top 10?