Who designed The Rolling Stones logo?

Regarding branding for a band, The Rolling Stones offer up a golden case study. While they weren’t the first to move into this area, the Stones have perhaps the most recognisable logo around with their iconic tongue and lips image. But how did the image come to be so well-known, and who designed it?

Go to any Rolling Stones show, and you’ll be greeted by a sea of branded merchandise. Maybe more so than any other band, the group have stuck their logo on just about everything. Lighters, T-shirts, socks, full tracksuits, mugs and beyond. While Jagger is one of the most charismatic frontmen on the planet, he’s also clearly business-minded as he puts that London School of Economics education to good use and helps the band rack in the dough through a decades-long production line of tatt.

That’s the power of a great logo. The Stones’ symbol is timeless and unique. The lack of the band name or any stylised font to fall out of fashion has allowed it to endure as a rock music staple. Years on from its first outing, the image still feels fresh and exciting. It still manages to capture the rock and roll energy of the band, even now the members are pensions.

But what’s the backstory to the image that’s graced a million T-shirts? Who designed the everlasting logo, and how did it come about? We’ll tell you.

Who designed The Rolling Stones logo?
A major misconception is that the Stones logo was designed by Andy Warhol. The pop artist worked with the band for their album covers for Sticky Fingers and Love You Live, but he didn’t design their logo.

Instead, the iconic tongue and lips logo was designed by John Pasche in 1970. At the time, Pasche was just an art student and the Stones were at the absolute height of their fame. The band were trying to design a poster for their 1970 European tour but hated all the options their label offered them. So Jagger took matters into his own hands and approached Pasche after seeing his work at the Royal College of Art degree show.

Jagger had the idea to do something related to the Indian goddess Kali, who is painted with her tongue out. Pasche explained: “The design concept for the tongue was to represent the band’s anti-authoritarian attitude, Mick’s mouth, and the obvious sexual connotations. I designed it in such a way that it was easily reproduced and in a style I thought could stand the test of time.” He took Jagger’s brief but Americanised the inspiration and made it more cartoon than spiritual.

Pasche completely nailed it, and his design was accepted on only his second draft. Part of the design was the tongue and lips which are now globally recognised. He was paid only £50 for that initial drawing.

However, the actual image we see everywhere isn’t Pasche’s. The band liked the design so much that they decided to keep it. When their 1971 album Sticky Fingers came around, they wanted to slap their new logo on it. The designer Craig Braun was tasked with pulling it all together with the Warhol artwork and the band’s branding, so he needed the logo. When he reached out to Pasche, it was revealed that he only had some rough sketches of the design. The Rolling Stones Records boss, however, had a stamp made of it.

Braun recalled, “I said for him to stamp it a few times, put it on a fax which, on a thermal fax machine, the quality is just shit, but I could see the silhouette of it, where the art student was going, very fuzzy, and about ¾ of an inch, so I blew that up to about 12″ and I had an illustrator working for me and I said, ‘I want you to re-draft this for me’.”

“After many a back-and-forth, trial-and-error fleshing-out with the illustrator, the Rolling Stones’ tongue and lip logo as we now know it was being hatched,” he said. According to Braun, he’s the creator of the logo, as the band use his version for all their merch, albums and posters.

It’s a subject still disputed to this day. Pasche claims to have been the original creator of the image, while Braun argues he was the one who properly and fully brought it to life.

Where are The Rolling Stones from?
The Rolling Stones are a London band through and through. Up there with telephone boxes, Beefeaters and the royal family themselves, The Rolling Stones are probably one of London and the UK’s biggest and most beloved exports.

The city well and truly made the band. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first met just outside the city as they went to the same primary school in Kent. Later on, they reunited during a chance meeting at Dartford station when Jagger was carrying a Chuck Berry record, and Richards struck up a conversation. When the band got going, they started hanging around the Ealing Jazz Club in West London, where they met Brian Jones. In their infancy, the Stones played in clubs across the city, including the iconic Marquee Club in Soho.

While their fame and success have taken them international, their London shows always mark a homecoming. Their most recent record, Hackney Diamonds, took its name from an area in the city as a homage to the place that made them.

Who were the original members of The Rolling Stones?
When The Rolling Stones got underway, their lineup was a little different. Over time, they’ve had a few different iterations as members have come and gone or sadly passed away, but the core team stays the same. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards stand as the heart of the band, writing the majority of the hits and being the only two remaining original members.

They didn’t start the band, though. Brian Jones was the founder of The Rolling Stones as Jagger and Richards simply started jamming with a group of musicians he’d already put together. In 1969, after becoming increasingly unreliable and unlikable due to his drug addiction, Jones was fired from the group and sadly died a few months later.

The other members of that original troupe were Ian Stewart, who contributed keys before being relegated to more of a logistical role helping to secure the band bookings from his office job desk, and Bill Wyman, who played guitar for the band for a long time until the 1990s. Wyman contributed to 19 of the band’s albums and was an instrumental part of their early lineup.

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