Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Best Classic Rock Logo?

The best of this bunch wind up being sketched in pen on more than a million different school notebooks,

They grace T-shirts, denim jackets, and yes, even body art.

From a purely artistic perspective, there are few musical genres that even come close to the branding tactics employed by the legends of classic rock. When was the last time you saw someone with "Pavarotti", "Boxcar Willie" or "Celine" tattooed on their bicep?

But, if you were to decide the Top 5 Classic Rock logos of all time, you would be hard-pressed to narrow it down to such a short list. There would be no shortage of nominees, including, Deep Purple, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Yes, Queen, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and many others ... but to pick only five is a tall order indeed.

Nevertheless, Top 5 Lists are what we do from time to time at TSB and since there were so many classic rock gifts handed out over the holidays (thanks KL!) and in keeping with the current "Rockband" craze, (actually saw Peter Mansbridge riffing the other night), here it is:

Here they are, the TSB Top 5 Classic Rock Logos of All-Time ...

In descending order, let's begin with ...

5. AC/DC

Can you believe the mileage the Angus and Malcolm Young have received from this after naming their band after their sister's sewing machine? There were a few different versions of the logo in their early days, but the current form has been used since the release of "Let There Be Rock" in 1977. The lightning bolt between the two groups of letters also perfectly fits, representing the electricity of the band (Alternative Current/Direct Current) and their music. The recent "Black Ice" CD release even has Wal-Mart worshipping this brand and what it stands for.

4. Led Zeppelin

The late Keith Moon (drummer from the Who) actually predicted that this new band founded by ex-Yardbird Jimmy Page would crash like a lead balloon. Page liked Moon's suggestion so much and instantly saw the dichotomy created by the light-heavy connotations of the name and how it reflected in Zeppelin's musical approach between acoustic melodies and blitzkrieg power chords.

3. Van Halen

More than three decades later the Van Halen brand is still able to leap off the tallest drum riser based on its 2007/08 highly successful reunion tour with original frontman David Lee Roth. The original logo was created by designer Dave Bhang for their debut album in 1978. The "wings" element may have been inspired by by the Aerosmith logo, but Dave gave Van Halen a bigger Bhang for their design buck by making the VH icon cleaner and sleeker.

2. Metallica

Lead singer James Hetfield deserves credit for creating the logo that defined where classic rock was heading as far back as the early 1980's. Metallica went through two other versions before reverting back to a re-working of their original logo for the release of their ninth studio effort, "Death Magnetic". Never afraid to break with convention, Metallica worked with design company Turner Duckworth to create packaging and branding for the album.

Turner Duckworth is better known for designing logos, packaging and visual identity systems for consumer brands like Coca-Cola and Amazon.com.


Still the biggest seller of them all with more than 3,000 licensed products. Guitarist Ace Frehley designed it but Gene Simmons was the business brain that catapulted KISS to the top of the rock and roll merchandising mountain. The New York-based rockers created this symbol for their second album "Hotter than Hell" in 1973 and is reported to have a value estimated at $500 million dollars.

That kind of cash could definitely inspire one to "Rock and Roll All Nite ... and Party Everyday".

We may have missed some of your favorites on this list, so don't be shy about letting us know.

Wonder what other Top 5 lists we could put together in 2009?

"The great thing about rock-n-roll is you realize the top of the mountain is big enough for more than one band" PAUL STANLEY



Mike Shanks PSP said...

IMHO an honorable mention should go out to Motley Crue and the one and only Alice Cooper.


Trepassey said...

Ummm....I gotta say Gair that I think the Rolling Stones 'lips and tongue' logo should be a top 5 over Metallica or Def Leppard. Also, Aerosmith. The original bad boys of rock.