LONDON.- The Victoria and Albert Museum has paid slightly over £50,000 to buy the original art work of the logo made for the Rolling Stones by British designer John Pasche. The tongue first appeared on their album Sticky Fingers and hast stayed with the band ever since. The artist was paid just £50 for the logo, and a further £200 in 1972.
Among the logos that are universally recognizable across the globeApple's apple, McDonald's golden arches, Nike's swooshonly one hails from Rock & Roll: "The Tongue." Created by British graphic designer John Pasche, the Rolling Stones' wildly popular icon has come to transcend the realms of music and entertainment. Of course, seeing the fiery-red design with its luscious lips, pearly whites, and bulbous drop-of-blood tongue immediately calls to mind Mick and Keith, Sticky Fingers, "Brown Sugar" and marathon, ecstasy-inducing live shows. But the Tongue symbolizes far more. In an age rife with corporatization and bland homogenization, Pasche's enlightened design still achieves its original aims, encompassing the very essence of rebellion, anti-establishmentism, the counterculture and the sexual revolution. It is also a monumental, museum-worthy work of Pop Art that single-tonguedly synthesizes the psychedelic era in which it was born.
Pasche hand-painted his masterpiece in black gouache on light-gauge artboard, which he then overlaid with a semi-opaque drawing cell, causing the black gouache to transmit as grey. He subsequently detailed the cell in black along the tongue's centerstrip and right edge, as well as in the crevice of the mouth. It was this exact artwork that Pasche submitted to the printer so that the trademark red color could be added in the production process, as was customary practice at the time. The cell sheet is adhered to its background with vintage brown tape, and the work demonstrates minor peripheral wear, as well as a tiny fleck missing from the crevice of the mouth. These negligible blemishes are mentioned only in the interest of strictest accuracy, and in no way distract from the overpowering visuals of the historic piece. Mirroring the artwork in its 22" x 34" frame is a full-color, high-resolution digital proof produced (from the original) and signed by Pasche a year ago as an aesthetic addition for display purposes.
In his signed LOA, dated June 9, 2008, John Pasche recounts the background history of his creation of the Tongue. The letter reads, in full, "On 29 April 1970 Jo Bergman, who was running the Stones office at the time, wrote to me to confirm that they had commissioned me to design a poster for their forthcoming 1970 European Tour. At this time, I was in my final year of a graduate design course at the Royal College of Art in London. I was very honoured when Mick Jagger turned up at the College to see my final degree show. A short time later, I met with Mick again who asked me to design a logo or symbol for The Rolling Stones' letterhead and other press related print. It was also adopted for use on their own record label. During a meeting at his house in Chelsea, Mick showed me an image of the Goddess of Kali which was the starting point to our discussion regarding the design of the logo. I was originally paid £50 for the design which took me about a week to complete. In 1972 I was paid an additional £200 in recognition of the logo's success. The first use of the logo was on the inner sleeve for the Sticky Fingers album. The outer sleeve was designed by Andy Warhol, a reason why he had sometimes mistakenly been credited for the logo design.
Soon after, as the registration of the logo had not been fully extended worldwide, a jeans manufacturer registered the tongue design in Germany for its own products. This situation, and the fact that the tongue was getting used by unauthorised manufacturers of badges and t-shirts, prompted proper registration worldwide and a merchandising agreement to be drawn up between the Stones and myself to capitalise on the growing success of the logo as a piece of merchandise.
My design concept for the Tongue was driven by the following factors: the band's rebellious attitude to authority; Mick's mouth and the obvious sexual connotations. I designed it in such a way that it was easily reproduced and in a bold graphic style which I hoped could stand the test of time. Due to its continuing popularity, the Stones have stayed with it over the years and I believe that it has now become one of the strongest and most recognisable logos in the world. And of course I'm proud of that. The simplicity of the design has lent itself to many different manifestations over the years but always instantly recognisable as the symbol of The Rolling Stones.
My busiest time creating artwork for the Stones was from 1970-1974 during which time I designed four tour posters, single and album sleeve work plus many other items of print. This led on to work for Paul McCartney, the Who and countless other artists and bands through to 1994 when I started working as Creative Director for the South Bank Centre Arts Complex in London. I am presently a freelance designer working out of my studio at home and still remain in contact with the Stones office in London.
The Stones ultimately bought the copyright but I retained ownership of my original artwork. This hand-painted artwork, which is now up for a sale, is unique and originalI can confirm that there are no longer any other copies or related drawings in existence."