let it bleed: lame brand images

Missing You. Memo From Turner: the Rolling Stones graphics really suck. Lame and tame. You can’t always get what you want, but….. unless you really care…..

Art Chantry (art@artchantry.com):

This poster/advert/whatever for the 1975 Rolling Stones world tour (specifically promoting the gator bowl concert) is a mystery to me. Frankly, it’s probably that last cool poster the Rolling Stones ever had. If it wasn’t for the ‘some girls’ record cover a few years later, I might even go as far as to say this is that last time the Rolling Stones even had any cool graphic design. And this is 35 years old!

AC: it seems something broke in their 'daring meter' and they went with chickenshit instead of redlining. same could be said for their entire generation, if you ask me. boomers are such whiners.

The Stones used to be so vital and so amazing. They had the midas touch (a dirty nasty midas touch). everything around them turned into cultural gold – very dark scary gold. It was a gift. They had a moment in pop history and they ran with it. But all good things must come to an end – even Elvis got fat and old. Elton John recently called Keith Richards, “an old wallet that mumbles.”

And so went their graphics. At one time they hired the coolest, the best, the greatest talent of their generation: Andy Warhol, Robert Frank, Robert Brownjohn, Richard Avedon, Guy Peeleart, Jon van Hammersveld, John Pasche, Annie Leibowitz, and on and on. what happened?

AC:ya know, i just never thought that tattoo image from that record was very good either. by that time it just looked like some old duffers trying to look street savvy in the face of the punk onslaught. came off as lame among everybody i knew. we already had cooler tattoos crawling all over our bods by then, anyway. now, it they REALLY DID get full facial tats like that, THEN it would be very cool, totally anti and agro. but, it was just poseur territory.

Something got lost back there. The graphic design they use now just looks bad. Even amazing talents like Steven Sagmeister, Mark Marek and even the godhead of Tibor Kalman couldn’t save them. It’s like their taste for quality and adventure got left at the station.

This poster/advert image I clipped from a magazine (possibly a rolling stone magazine) back when I first saw it. I was very young (about 21 in 1975). but, I was already supporting myself doing graphic work. I saw this image and i thought (even then), thank god! the Stones are back with some decent graphic style. Even the ‘glaser stencil’ typography (so uncool then) looked great. There is a smart eye working here.

AC:remember they sold that with a piece of red-colored cellophane shrink-wrapped over it? like they were too embarrassed to actually let anybody see it? there was a cool mark marek illustration on the back or somewhere. but, they seemed to walk away from him like they did with the whole record - like everybody involved with it was poison. too bad. they could have gone places with marek on board.

p>Sadly, this was the only place i ever ran across this image. I actually went to see the Stones on this tour and they had for sale at the event a tour poster somewhat along these lines, but really lame. It was a particularly bad color illustration of a bald eagle with jet engines coming down for a landing. It may sound cool in that description, but believe me, it sucked. That’s why you’ve never actually seen it reproduced anywhere since. Too embarrassing.

The history of Stones graphics since ‘some girls’ (to be kind) has been one of terrible dreck and pompous overkill. Great graphics can’t save a lousy record – but lousy graphics can kill a good record. I think maybe the same thought could be extended to an entire professional enterprise. A lame brand image is cultural death. Especially if you are in the biz of selling culture.

Perhaps them Rolling Stones should do a little more research next time and tap into one of the amazing artists working around the gigposter.com scene, eh? The worst artist on that sight can do better work for that band than anybody they’ve come up with in the last twenty years.

But, this little image really stands alone. Who did this? I read somewhere that this “jet engine eagle” idea was Charlie Watts’ concept. Izzat true? I know he has some nicely developed talent a visual artist (both illustration and painting). So, it’s well within the realm of possibility that he did this.

Anybody out there know anything about this image? It would be cool to find out who did the last good Rolling Stones poster.

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