BandLogo
JukeBox is a blog for lovers of design and music in equal measure. All posts are written by experts who've been there and got the (band) t-shirt.

Who’s bad?

Who’s bad?

Writer Tim Rich gets hot under his buttoned-down collar about a Mod icon.

The Who. They were never my thing. Never my generation. And I’m not convinced they were anyone else’s. How does the old refrain go? Some of the early stuff was good. I happily get on the Magic Bus now and then, but little else Whoey really moves me. 

Then there’s the logo. It’s cherished by millions of fans and still sported by retromods, but I can’t bear it. I don’t blame its creator, the artist Brian Pike. He was asked to create something for the band’s first gig – at the Marquee – and what came flying off the drawing board ended up a rock icon. 

Strike a chord: the typographic version of the logo was designed by advertising art director Brian Pike. He created it specially for a poster touting The Who's Tuesday night residency at The Marquee Club, which kicked off in November 1964. Pete Townshend later had the idea of superimposing it on to an RAF roundel.

Strike a chord: the typographic version of the logo was designed by advertising art director Brian Pike. He created it specially for a poster touting The Who's Tuesday night residency at The Marquee Club, which kicked off in November 1964. Pete Townshend later had the idea of superimposing it on to an RAF roundel.

The post-rationalisations of others suggest the arrow above the o represents masculinity and the connected h’s unity. Perhaps. What do the midget e and o stand for? The name reads like something from Countdown: Th e wn o. 

Worse: the lettering runs over that fabulous RAF roundel, which I love (although my favourite is the red-on-blue Night Bomber version used between 1918 and 1938). The marriage of logomark and logotype; well, it should have been a messy one-night stand in a Soho bedsit – a Drinamyl-spiced coition of beauty and beast recollected in tranquillity. Be still my purple heart. But they remain together: one of those couples that can’t escape their combined gravity. You see, I lament not this logo’s creation but its continuation.

Da bomb: the author's preferred RAF roundel.

Da bomb: the author's preferred RAF roundel.

Th e wn o – it’s all a long way from Mod at its obsessive best. Clean lines, tough elegance. Aspiration and attitude. It could look flick-knife sharp. Sometimes it sounded sharp too. But, for me, the spirit of Mod has never looked or sounded like The Who. Still, at least their logo isn’t as ghastly as Paul Weller’s hair.

We are the Mods: a wearable, home-made version of the logo.

We are the Mods: a wearable, home-made version of the logo.

E1 — East 17

E1 — East 17

D1 — The Doors

D1 — The Doors