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.
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.
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.