Rebel sell

Wealth and taste: V&A buys original Rolling Stones logo
By Peter Walker
September 2, 2008
The Guardian

It is perhaps the most recognisable logo in the history of pop music, and it has been a symbol of brash rebellion for almost 40 years. But now the Rolling Stones’ famous tongue and lips symbol has well and truly entered the establishment with a place in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A has paid slightly over £50,000 at auction for the original drawings of the symbol, devised by British designer John Pasche in 1970, it announced last night. In a fitting detail for a band who have, in the main, gradually abandoned dissolute personal lives and anti-establishment bravado to embrace the mainstream, Pasche said he sold the hand-painted black and white work, to finance private school fees. “I have an 11-year-old son and this money is going to go towards his education,” he said.

Pasche had already decided to sell the drawing at a US auction house when the V&A enquired about borrowing it for an exhibition. On learning the work was for sale, the museum lodged a winning bid of $92,500 on Saturday, half of which was provided by the Art Fund charity. Pasche was a 24-year-old postgraduate design student at London’s Royal College of Art when Jagger went looking for new talent, having become dissatisfied with the record label’s artworks. After meeting the singer, Pasche designed a tour poster and was commissioned to come up with a band logo.

Pasche said: “Mick had a picture of Kali, the Hindu goddess, which he was very keen on. India was very much in fashion at the time, but I thought something like that might go out of date.” The inspiration for the eventual logo, which took Pasche around two weeks of work, has never been in doubt. “I wanted something anti-authority, but I suppose the mouth idea came from when I met Jagger for the first time at the Stones’ offices. I went into this sort of wood-panelled boardroom and there he was. Face to face with him, the first thing you were aware of was the size of his lips and his mouth.”

The logo first appeared on the inside sleeve of the 1971 album Sticky Fingers and has been used ever since, soon becoming a visual shorthand for the group as well as the stage design for gigs such as the Stones’ show at the Superbowl in 2006. Initially paid just £50, when the Stones copyrighted the design Pasche received a share of royalties rights, later selling this for a lump sum. Pasche, who also worked with the Who and Paul McCartney, said he never expected the image to be used for so long: “I’m still amazed by how popular it is. I get emails from people saying, ‘I’ve just had the logo tattooed on my arm.'”

See also: Victoria & Albert Museum

John Pasche

The Art Fund


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