Monday, 24 March 2014

The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos!

Should logos belong in music? The most recognisable logos around the world are big businesses Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Nike: not very rock and roll! And yet many of the AAA logos have become instantly recognisable, known around the world by fans who often don't even know English to understand the words. In this week's top seven we'll be looking at the seven most famous AAA logos, discussing who invented them and why and how successful they've been down the years:

The Beatles 'Drop T' logo (1963-present)

Amazingly this logo never appeared on an official Beatles product until the 'Anthology' TV series in the 1990s (where the camera zooms right up into the giant 'T' in the middle) but every Beatles fan will know the logo I'm talking about. The design was made not by an artist or illustrator but by a part-time drummer and music shop owner named Ivor Arbiter. When Brian Epstein offered to update the rather battered drum kit Ringo had been using his days with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, the drummer and his new manager went to Drum City, Arbiter's shop in Shaftesbury Avenue. Ringo had planned to buy an all-black kit, like most bands on Merseybeat, but whilst in the shop he became taken with the idea of black lettering on a white drumhead. Unfortunately, the only make of drums that came that way was the now world famous 'Ludwig' kit, which happened to be one of the most expensive in the shop. Epstein refused to pay the £238 the shop was asking (a lot back then) but came to an agreement where Ringo would trade his battered old Premier Drums kit and the band would agree to have 'Ludwig's name printed prominently on the drumhead. As final persuasion, Epstein also agreed to pay the grand total of £5 for a special logo to be made up, which Arbiter designed there and then inside five minutes, later getting local sign writer Eddie Stokes to paint the logo physically onto the drums. Epstein asked if Arbiter could emphasis the word 'beat' in the 'Beatles' name but otherwise left him to it. That actual drumkit was last used on the Beatles' first run of dates in Paris in February 1964 before being upgraded for the first Ed Sullivan TV show a week later. Reportedly Ringo kept the drumhead for luck and still has it in his collection today! Unusually, though, the Beatles never used the logo on any of their record releases - in fact they didn't use any logo until the 'Apple' days...

Grateful Dead 'Skulls and Roses' logo (1966-date)

Skeletons have become synonymous with the Grateful Dead and occur on many of their album sleeves - especially the archives releases since 1995. The most famous one, though, is the skeleton adorned with roses who appears on the front cover of the 1971 live record variously known as 'Grateful Dead' or 'Skulls and Roses' after it's cover. The illustration had been used to advertise Dead shows since 1966, however, right from the very first handful of shows the band played using this band name and actually dates back even further: it started life as a black-and-white drawing by Edmund Joseph Sullivan and was made for the philosophical book with the very catchy title, the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". The band's regular illustrators 'Stanley' and 'Mouse' loved the drawing so much that they simply traced it, turned it into technicolour and the distinctive lettering. The relationship between a skeleton and roses goes back to an early Christian martyr - not band favourite 'St Stephen' but 'St Valentine', who was so adored his skull was surrounded by roses when he was buried and his followers continued to do add roses to his grave every anniversary (his feast day of February 14th is still celebrated as Valentine's Day - but not by the Christian Church, who decided there wasn't enough evidence for him to be canonised and booted his 'day' off the calendar pretty much at the same time the Dead started using the logo - were they feeling sorry for him perhaps?!)

The Monkees 'guitar' logo (1966-date)

The Monkees' clever 'guitar' logo - with each of the letters in the band name drawn to fit the outline of a guitar with 'love hearts' attached instead of the frets - dates back almost as far as the band. The idea was first sketched by Screen Gems publicity agent Ed Justin after show creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider told him about their new series and requested something that a music-loving teenage audience would identify with. Justin then got in contact with Nick Lo Bianco - who had worked with Screen Gems before drawing illustrations of TV shows for lunchboxes -to make the final design. The logo ended up being used on almost everything the Monkees released across their ten original albums, as well as appearing prominently during the titles of their 52 episode TV show (though its noticeably absent from their feature film 'HEAD'). The surprise, really, is that the pair didn't go for a design that involved 'monkeys' in some way - along the same lines as the occasional 'American' version of the Beatles logo that featured - you guessed it - beetles.

Apple (The Beatles, 1968-present)

Strictly speaking, of course, the famous Apple logo identifies the record label, not the Beatles. But as the creators, backers, writers, producers and biggest sellers on the label, that logo is always going to mean 'Beatles' for their many fans who wanted to get their 'five a day' of Apple singles. Both the name and logo were thought by Paul McCartney together when the band needed a name for the company they were planning. A keen collector of art, one of Paul's favourite painters was the surrealist Magritte (also beloved of Lindisfarne's Alan Hull, who sought special permission and reportedly paid millions to use a painting as the cover of his solo album 'Pipedream'). One of Paul's closest 'art' friends was 'Indica' gallery and bookshop owner Robert Fraser, who organised the art show where John Lennon first came across Yoko Ono and was the poor chap who was arrested at the infamous Rolling Stoned 'drug bust' of 1967 and unlike Mick and Keef actually served his six-month sentence. Paul had an open arrangement where Robert would keep any Magritte paintings that came in to be sold to one side for him and he would pay a good price for them. One nice Magritte painting of a green apple did and Fraser popped round to Paul's Cavendish house; finding the Beatle was busy filming in the garden - probably one of the 'home movies' that inspired 'Magical Mystery Tour' - Fraser left the painting in Paul's sitting room with a note. Already looking for a logo to go with the company the Beatles had started, Paul realised what a great image it was when he first saw it ('A is for apple' is what was taught at many a school back in the Beatle's childhood) and how many variations the Beatles could use. Starting with the single 'Hey Jude' most Beatles singles featured a 'whole' Granny Smith on the 'A' side and a 'cut' Granny Smith on the 'B' side but this idea was changed a few times over the years: the  American version of 'Let It Be', licensed along with the film on 'United Artists', used a red apple to avoid confusion with the Beatles' label; George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass' paints the apple 'orange' (and includes a jam jar on the 'Apple Jams' disc!); the twin John and Yoko/Plastic Ono Band albums feature the apple in black and white; Ringo's 'Back Off Boogaloo' single has the apple in blue; best of all Harrison's album 'Extra Texture' features an apple with a bite taken out of it - his comment on the way he felt the company was going in the late 1970s, with each Beatle taking a 'bite' out of the business! The computer company Apple got into repeated trouble in the 1980s and 1990s for using the 'Apple' name without the Beatles' permission; they currently have an 'understanding' that they will never use the fab four's distinctive 'green Granny Smith' design and now part-own the rights to the Beatles logo with the understanding that the group can continue to use it indefinitely.

Rolling Stones Tongue (1971-present)

John Pasche was a graphic art student right out of London's Royal College of Art when he was headhunted by Mick Jagger to draw a new tour poster for the band in 1971. Pleased with what they saw, the band asked him to come up with a 'logo' for them that would represent their image with an anti-authoritarian-but-nothing-likely-to-be-censored logo. Meeting up with Jagger to discuss designs, Pasche says he was struck by just how big Jagger's lips were in person and decided to incorporate them into the image, adding the tongue as a gesture of 'cheekiness'. Pasche was reportedly given a one-off payment of £15 for his work despite the many millions who have seen his work since (the logo has appeared on practically every Stones release since the 'Sticky Fingers' album in 1971 and is the entire front cover of the compilation 'Forty Licks' and the concert album 'Live Licks', where the tongue is shaded green). Pasche doesn't seem to have been too upset though, working the band many times since (most notably the actual 'goat's head soup' being brewed on the inside sleeve of that album). 

CSN Logo (1994 'After The Storm' CD)

Sadly Crosby, Stills and Nash have only used this brilliant logo for the one album and tour, which is a terrible shame. After 25 years without a 'brand', Graham Nash decided to come up with one for the cover of the band's album 'After The Storm'. Nash's interest in art and photography had been growing down the years to the point where he now had his own studio, 'Nash Intermedia' and he got his colleagues Kate Nook and Rand Wetherwax to come up with a startling image of the letters 'C' 'S' and 'N' painted on a stormy backdrop. Stephen Stills later added his suggestions, so he gets a co-credit for the design too on the record label. The logo cleverly sums up the CSN ethos: the letters encircle each other but they're also separate - for instance the 'N' has a link through an elongated 'S' which is also looped by a giant 'C'. Sadly this clever logo has lain dormant ever since 1994 - not least because all the CSN family records since then have featured either CSNY, CN or members of the band solo!

And that's all for another week! Goodnight from all of us here at the 'jukebox logoed' Alan's Album Archives!TM

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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