To mark The Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary a couple of years ago, the band asked artist Shepard Fairey to update their iconic tongue logo with a new design (pictured). The tongue was first used on the ‘Sticky Fingers’ album sleeve in 1971 and designed by John Pasche. It inspired us to look back at some other classic moments in music iconography.
Designed by drummer Patrick Wilson in 1993 during the mixing of Weezer’s debut ‘Blue Album’, this ‘W’ symbol has become a long-running feature of Weezer’s gigs, with fans replicating it with their hands as a sign of their fandom.
Often referred to by the band as the “angel’s asshole”, this circular motif was designed by Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis sometime around 1984.
Stourbridge “grebo” mob Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, notable for having two bass players, famously made more money from their merchandise than their music. During a three-year period during the early 1990s, the band produced over 80 different T-shirt designs.
NYC thrash metal legends Anthrax memorably teamed up with Public Enemy for the 1991 single ‘Bring The Noise’. Their pointy logo has adorned everything from baseball caps to wristbands. Recently the veteran band has found a second wind thanks to their song ‘Madhouse’ being featured in Guitar Hero 2.
Designed by Alan Forbes for The Offspring’s ‘Conspiracy Of One’ album in 2000, this skull logo, according to pictogram.blogspot.com, “points out that the cosmos of vengeance and lust for justice burning in one’s head can be – without the support and reinforcement of like-minded individuals – doomed to failure if it’s just one man tearing up the plans.”
Levellers bassist Jeremy Cunningham once sent NME a turd in the post after we gave the band’s 1992 album ‘Levelling The Land’ a 2/10 review. It was also Jeremy who, years earlier, sketched out this striking logo upstairs at his local pub, The Eagle in Brighton.
Another classic metal design, with the childish backwards ‘R’ calling to mind the terrifying “RED RUM” sequence in ‘The Shining’. After the band’s 1996 debut ‘Life Is Peachy’ came out, fellow nu-metal icon Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit tattooed the logo onto Korn guitarist Brian Welch’s back.
English artist Roger Dean has carved out a reputation for fantastical, colour-drenched landscapes, many of which adorn Yes album covers – along with the “bubble” logo he debuted on the band’s 1972 LP ‘Close To The Edge.’
Designed by Steve Craig in 1983, the thrash metaller’s logo found its most striking expression on the band’s 1987 album ‘Reign In Blood’, where it was set within a pentagram, bisected by swords.
Scissor Sisters’ logo was designed by the band’s guitarist Scott “Babydaddy” Hoffman in 2001, immediately after frontman Jake Shears came up with the band name (itself a slang term for lesbianism). “He told it to me, and I made the logo the next day,” recalls Hoffman.
Chuck D designed this logo himself in 1986. Many at the time assumed the figure caught in the target scope was supposed to be a cop, but Chuck D insists it was just a “B-Boy”……..
Contrary to popular belief, this pop art-inspired logo has actually never appeared on an album by The Who. It was designed by Brian Pike in 1964 for a poster advertising the group’s gig at London’s Marquee club. It subsequently found its way onto thousands of badges, becoming a key element of mod iconography.
‘Led Zeppelin IV’ – the band’s untitled fourth album – was originally listed in Atlantic Records’ catalogue as ‘Four Symbols’, a reference to the sequence of four runes featured on the reverse of the album sleeve. This first one supposedly represents guitarist Jimmy Page, although some fans assumed it was a word, pronouncing it as “Zoso”.
This is the logo that appeared on Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, as well as its attendant singles. Bafflingly, it was replaced with an altogether uglier logo for the band’s second album, ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’.
For their the third album ‘Minutes To Midnight’ LA nu-metal giants Linkin Park ditched the bracketed logo that they’d used on their first two albums, and opted for this bold design, whose clarity and simplicity has drawn praise from graphic design bloggers.
One of just five logos in our Top 50 to be written entirely in lower case. The others are Oasis, Daft Punk, Motorhead and Arctic Monkeys.
This distinctive motif appeared on the cover of Muse’s first two albums, but was missing from their third and fourth, before being reinstated for their recent live album ‘HAARP: Live From Wembley’.
The demonic skull was designed by Joe Petagno in 1977 in consultation with Motorhead frontman Lemmy in a pub on London’s Great Western Road.
Designed by drummer Paul Thomson (who once posed as a nude model at Glasgow School Of Art), this logo, like much of Franz Ferdinand’s artwork, was inspired by Russian avant-garde imagery.
The French electro duo’s logo is intrinsic to their enigmatic, anti-celebrity stance. 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.”
Bandleader Greg Ginn’s brother, artist Raymond Pettibon, designed the punk band’s trademark four black bars. Dave Grohl attempted to tattoo this logo on his left forearm when he was 12, but gave up after three bars (not the full four) because it was so painful.
Bauhaus bassist David J claims to have “stolen” this half-face/half-building logo in 1978, though he doesn’t say where from. Obviously the building motif is appropriate, given that the band’s name was inspired by an architectural movement.
The Beatles’ now-iconic logo had humble origins. 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.
First appearing on Aerosmith’s 1974 album ‘Wings’, this motif has lasted a lot longer than the man who designed it, original guitarist Ray Tabano, who had actually already left the band by the time ‘Wings’ came out.
This logo is always accompanied by the Finnish goth-rockers’ world-famous heartagram symbol. A combination of a heart and a pentagram, it has been described by frontman Ville Valo as a “Modern Yin Yang.” ‘Jackass’ star Bam Margera was so taken with the symbol he paid Valo for the right to use it on his own merchandise.
Reminiscent of ancient scripts such as Sumerian cuneiform, Klaxons’ highly original logo is often accompanied by a mysterious crab-like symbol, suggestive of pre-historic cave paintings.
Lead guitarist Ace Frehley came up with the logo, which first appeared on the band’s second album, ‘Hotter Than Hell.’ Frehley’s masterstroke was rendering the final two letters in Kiss as stylized lightning bolts.
First appearing on Jamiroquai’s 1993 debut album ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’, Jay Kay’s self-designed “Buffalo Man” logo – a stylized silhouette of himself wearing one of his trademark hats – has appeared in various forms on all of Jamiroquai’s albums.
Appearing on The Grateful Dead’s 1974 live double album ‘Steal Your Face’, it was a GD roadie who came up with the idea for the logo. He saw a similar design on a road sign and thought it would be a good motif to print on the band’s equipment as a way of identifying it.
In addition to this cracked typeface, the hardcore pioneers also used a circular motif, which according to frontman Bob Mould symbolized the creative commonality between the band members despite their differing personalities. Mould explained: “The circle is the band, the three lines across are the members, and the intersection is the common train of thought.”
This ransom-note-style, Sex Pistols-inspired typeface appeared on both Libertines albums, 2002’s ‘Up The Bracket’ and 2004’s ‘The Libertines’. Many obsessive Libs fans have been known to get the logo tattooed onto their skin.
Ditching the old-fashioned ‘typewriter’ font used on second album ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, My Chemical Romance frontman – a graduate of New York’s School Of Visual Arts – designed this scratchier, angrier logo for the band’s third album ‘The Black Parade’.
Designed by Atlantic Records VP and creative art director Bob Defrin, AC/DC’s now-legendary logo made its debut on the international edition of ‘Let There Be Rock.’ It is …
Magazines wishing to review Justice’s debut album were told they had to refer to it in print with a crucifix symbol (although Amazon stubbornly call it ‘Cross’) – leading to subbing quarrels across the land. The logo has since come into its own at Justice’s live shows, providing a glowing backdrop to the Parisian duo’s turntable heroics.
With its simple black and white lettering recalling Ivor Arbiter’s famous Beatles design, Oasis’ trademark logo has appeared on all of the band’s album covers, apart from ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ (where it was replaced by a transparent effort designed by guitarist Gem Archer) and forthcoming release ‘Dig Out Your Soul’
The Rolling Stones’ world-famous tongue logo, first used on their 1971 ‘Sticky Fingers’ album and recently purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum for Â£50,000, was designed by art student John Pasche in 1970. Pasche was paid just Â£50 for the logo, and a further Â£200 in 1972. The logo was inspired not just by Mick Jagger’s famous mouth but also that of the Hindu goddess Kali.
British artist Derek Riggs designed all of Iron Maiden’s artwork from 1980-2000, coming up the logo as well as the band’s legendary mascot Eddie, and supplying Maiden with perhaps the most cohesive and recognisable visual theme of any band in history.
In 1993, Prince threw off his moniker and “became” this unpronounceable logo – termed the “Love Symbol” – which incorporates the glyphs for Mars (male) and Venus (female). Cleverly, he even turned it into several custom guitars.
Lead singer Freddie Mercury, a London art-school graduate, designed the Queen Crest. Surrounding the letter “Q” are the four band members’ zodiac signs.
The iconic jagged lettering was created for Metallica’s first album ‘Kill Em All’ by singer/guitarist James Hetfield in 1983. Controversially, it was changed to a blander version for 1996’s ‘Load’ album – although the stabbing ‘M’ and ‘A’ were reinstated for 2003’s ‘St Anger’.
The Nine Inch Nails logo was designed in 1989 by Trent Reznor and Gary Talpas, who worked as art director on ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, ‘Head Like A Hole’, ‘The Downward Spiral’ and ‘Further Down the Spiral’. The design was inspired by the sleeve of Talking Heads’ ‘Remain In Light’ album.
Groundbreaking Staten Island hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan got its unmistakable Batman-style trademark from DJ Allah Mathematics. Already well-versed in the art of graffiti when he joined the Wu, his design found its way onto countless Clan album covers.
John Lydon came up for the idea for this logo for his post-Sex Pistols band, Public Image Ltd. He wanted it to resemble an aspirin – or indeed a “pill”. The man he commissioned to design it was Dennis Morris, who had been Sex Pistols’ official photographer.
Psychobilly oddballs The Cramps announced their affinity with the lurid comic books of the 1950s when frontman Lux Interior cribbed the band’s logo from EC Comics’ gorefest ‘Tales From the Crypt.’
Designed by Jamie Reid for the Sex Pistols single “God Save The Queen”, released in July 1977, and ultimately the “Never Mind the Bollocks” LP, the cut-out lettering meshed perfectly with the torn T-shirts and safety pins dreamt up by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood as a visual hook for punk rock.
Van Halen’s logo is an example of formal design perfection – although, interestingly, they changed its wings from straight to curvy to announce the arrival of Sammy Hagar and the departure of original vocalist David Lee Roth in 1995.
As the band’s name is an acronym for the two couples in the group – Agnetha & BjÃ¶rn, and Benny & Anni-Frid – Swedish designer Rune SÃ¶derqvist wanted the two B’s to face each of their respective partner A’s.
Simple yet effective, this no-nonsense logo found its way onto countless badges, patches and T-shirts in the late ’70s.
One of punk rock’s most enduring images was actually plagiarised. In 1979, Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig saw the skull on a poster for the film ‘The Crimson Ghost’ and decided to use it himself.
Glam, snarky and imperfect, the New York Dolls’ smudged lipstick logo nodded a head to their past in fashion, and to their future in protopunk.
The xx chose their name because they liked the way that the two x’s sat together. So it makes sense that their logo would emphasise it.
Though Pink Floyd went through several versions of their logo (including a Phish-like psychedelic number), the most striking one is from the cover of ‘The Wall’. Funnily enough, the cover art for ‘The Wall’ didn’t feature a logo or a band name- the info was on a sticker on the brick-effect cover.
From phallic wrenches to clean graphic lines, Tool’s logos have always emphasised the group’s interest in visual art and progressive musical media.
Reminiscent of the logos of classic new wave bands such as the Cars, The Strokes’s chrome logo tipped a hat to their knowing indie sound.
Though Slipknot’s logo doesn’t actually include the titular knot, it is alluded to in the stylised gothic ‘S’.
Psychedelic group Phish have hidden a few things in their logo. Count the amount of gills the Phish fish has, and the air bubbles. Yep, 4/20 4/20. Hardly a coincidence.
Designed by graphic artist Stanley Donwood, and Thom Yorke (under the alias ‘Tchock’), Radiohead’s ‘modified bear’ first appeared on the artwork for ‘Kid A’.
The Pixies’ logo was designed by Chris Bigg for the artwork for 1991’s ‘Alec Eiffel’, off final album ‘Trompe Le Monde’. The logo’s stuck around since though, on t-shirts and promo items.
Created by artist Paul Romano, Mastodon’s logo strikes a balance between their clean instrumentation, and the heavier aspects of their output. Unlike other metal groups, Mastodon have opted for a neat, legible font. No gothic lettering here.
The flying double-‘F’s of the Foo Fighters’ logo bring to mind the origin’s of the groups’ name. A ‘Foo Fighter’ was a WW2 slang term used by pilots to describe flying fireballs that they saw from their planes.
Disturbed’s logo includes a cross (Christianity), the Star of David (Judaism), the Pentagram (Paganism) and the Crescent Moon (Islam). The mix of different symbols stands for the unity of religions.
Taken from the album ‘Furr’, Blitzen Trapper’s carved wooden logo perfectly echoes their alt.Americana.
Composed of four elegant swoops and a inverted pyramid, Black Veil Brides’ logo is surprisingly tasteful for the OTT rockers.