The sixties and seventies will forever be remembered as some of the most interesting years in the history of music. Classic rock celebrates the music of these two decades, which gave birth to genres like hard rock, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and glam rock. During this time, rock music has also evolved, with the emergence of heavy metal and punk rock. To this day, prominent bands from the classic rock era are loved because of their timeless hits and powerful anthems.
Without a doubt, classic rock bands also had some of the most iconic logos that remain to be some of the best band logos to this day. These memorable logos have stood the test of time and will continue to endure as some of the most widely-recognizable symbols of what is considered to be the golden age of rock music. Here, we highlight 10 of the best classic rock band logos, a few of the music industry’s most resounding images. Find out how they came about and what went behind each logo, and what makes them the best band logos today.
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1. The Beatles
One of the best bands in the history of music has an equally iconic logo to match their legacy. The Fab Four have cemented their place in the music industry with a simple yet classy typeface logo. The famous drop T logo first appeared on Ringo Starr’s bass drum head in 1963. It was designed by the owner of the only drum-only shop in London at the time, Ivon Arbiter. Starr and their manager, Brian Epstein, went down to Drum City to replace Starr’s old Premiere kit. Arbiter wanted the brand name, Ludwig, to appear on the bass head. Epstein agreed, but only if The Beatles’ name appeared on it as well. Arbiter quickly designed the now iconic logo, highlighting the letters B and T to emphasize “beat.” He was paid five pounds for one of the most memorable logos in history.
2. Led Zeppelin
Considered to be one of the most influential rock bands in history, Led Zeppelin are regarded to be the pioneers of hard rock. With their heavy guitars, solid playing, and innovative music, the group has enjoyed great success throughout their career, making them true rock legends. Their logo was created by famed English design group Hipgnosis, led by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, as part of their album “Houses of the Holy,” released in 1973. It was coupled with the imagery of the band’s record label, Swan Song, said to me a representation of the Greek god Apollo. The wonderfully-designed typeface logo is one of the best classic rock band logos remembered to this day.
Probably the most ubiquitous classic rock band logos, appearing in over 3,000 licensed products, the KISS logo will definitely take a long time to be forgotten. Designed by former guitarist Ace Frehley, it was first drawn on a poster outside a club they were slated to play at in 1973. It has a runic typeface, with the two Ss made to look like lightning bolts. However, it was speculated that the Ss were made to look like the Nazi Schutzstaffel symbol, which is why in 1979, the KISS logo was modified for their German audiences. Today, it remains to be one of the most recognizable logos, with its catchy red palette and bold font.
Another highly familiar logo comes from Australian hard rock band AC/DC. With its thick and daring typeface printed in a bold red color, with the lightning bolt right smack in the center their logo is hard to miss. Designed by Bob Defrin and Gerard Huerta, it was inspired by the first book ever published, thanks to Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press – The Bible. The rustic font was meant to match the religious imagery found in their song, “Let There Be Rock.” The color palette and the lightning bolt add an interesting touch to an otherwise biblical logo, making it one of the best classic rock band logos today.
One of the most influential progressive rock acts of the classic rock era, Yes was known for their otherworldly themes and elaborate instrumental and vocal arrangements. Their band logo, a creative take on psychedelia, is a playful design created by English artist Roger Dean. It first appeared on the band’s LP, “Close to the Edge,” in 1972, and has been the symbol best associated with the progressive rock pioneers.
6. Van Halen
Known for their stylistic instrumentals that made them one of the most important hard rock bands, Van Halen’s original logo also remains to be one of the most iconic classic rock band logos today. It was designed by Dave Bhang in 1978 as metallic and winged logo bearing the initials of the band, appearing in their self-titled debut album that same year. However, after the departure of their original vocalist David Lee Roth, who was replaced by Sammy Hagar, the logo underwent some modification to indicate the new line-up. In 1986, the wings were changed into wings to symbolize the change. But when Roth came back on board and the band released the album “A Different Kind of Truth” in 2012, the original logo was used again, re-establishing its place in music history.
7. The Who
Unlike most of the other best classic rock band logos, the iconic The Who logo never appeared on any of the band’s releases. The clean font was designed by British artist Brian Pike for one of The Who’s London shows. The bull’s eye had the same color palette as the British flag, and the two Hs were connected to signify unity. The O resembled the symbol of masculinity. All these elements together formed one of the most memorable logos in the industry.
One of the most successful hard rock bands today, Aerosmith carried a logo that has gained the same iconic status as them. Designed by former guitarist Raymond Tabano, who wasn’t in the band for long, the winged A and the stylized font bearing the band’s name first appeared in their 1974 album “Get Your Wings.” It has represented the band since and has become a remarkable symbol of classic rock.
Voted the best British band of all time, Queen had a regal logo to match their place in the ranks of music royalty. Designed by vocalist Freddie Mercury, who graduated from Ealing Art College, the Queen Crest is one of the most interesting and well-designed classic rock band logos. Partly inspired by the British coat of arms, Mercury took each of the member’s zodiac signs and used these symbols to surround the letter Q that had a crown inside. Above it, a phoenix hovered, and with its bold red hues, it remains to be one of the classiest and most creative band logos.
10. The Rolling Stones
The iconic big red mouth is one of the most recognizable logos today, and The Rolling Stones will forever be remembered because of it. The classic tongue and lip designed was created by English designer John Pasche in 1970, meant to resemble vocalist Mick Jagger’s signature big mouth. It was also partly a tribute to the Hindu goddess of everlasting energy, Kali, who was used to symbolize the spirit of rock and roll. Today, the symbol for the Stones still stands as one of rock music’s most memorable images.