Language is technically an isotype because it has no letters.
With the release of the album “Sticky Fingers”, the first released under his own label on April 23, 1971, The Rolling Stones presented to the world its famous logo of the language, which over the years became the unmistakable symbol that refers to the popular British ensemble without the need for texts, acronyms or clarifications.
The celebrated drawing was created by then-art student John Pasche and his immediate association with irreverence and sexuality sold by the group – perhaps because of its resemblance to the singer’s mouth, even though that was not the initial intention. – caused it to be adopted as an identity trait that operates almost with the same force as his music.
Fifty years later, not only there is no other band that can be presented graphically with just a symbol In which there is not the name of the group or its initials, but also that logo of the language is located at the same level of popular recognition as others that represent famous multinational companies.
The story originated a year earlier when Jagger had a first contact with Pasche in order to commission a design for a tour that the band would take through European territory, according to a record for Tlam. Diego Perri, one of the greatest historians and collectors in our country of material on the Rolling Stones and author of the book “Repblica Stone”.
According to the poster where a ship and an airplane appear as symbols of the tour, the singer, perhaps influenced by the Hindu fashion installed with the advent of hippism, showed him shortly after a poster of the goddess Kali as an example of what he was looking for. for a new venture: “Jagger wanted a logo like Shell’s, so you would know what it was about when you saw it”, puntualiz Perri.
The “Sticky Fingers” cover and the envelope that went inside. Track 1 of the album was “Black Sugar”.
Thus arose the famous symbol by which the gang paid Pasche £ 50, which was included in some VIP invitations to a show that the group gave in March 1971 at the Marquee club in London, as part of a special for the BBC and which, a month later, was to be used to identify the new record label of the group.
“Pasche once told that 50 pounds had seemed like good money because he never thought that design was going to be what it was, that was to become the most significant and important logo in the world, not only talking about bands but at a general level ”, recalled the Argentine collector.
Beyond this history, until today there is a generalized confusion that attributes to Andy Warhol the creation of the image of the language, due to the fact that the renowned New York pop artist was in charge of the design of the cover of “Sticky Fingers”.
Even, the cover photo with the close-up of the closure of a male jean trousers about to open It was so provocative and brought so many operational problems on the first release of the record that the image of the tongue went unnoticed at the time the record was released.
It so happens that that first edition included a true closure that invited to be downloaded with the latent threat that the anatomy of Joe DAlessandro, Warhol’s anonymous assistant who served as a model, would be exposed; but it had to be withdrawn from the sale because the device scratched in many cases the vinyls that were inside the case.
“In the original edition, on the back cover was a photo of a boxer shorts, but here in Argentina it was launched in association with the Levis jeans brand, so the logo of that brand appeared when the lid was turned over ”, Perri commented.
The original of the language is exhibited in the Museum of Art and Design in London.
After clarifying that in reality it is an isotype and not a logo -as it is usually said- due to the absence of lyrics, and to note that “more irreverent than that image is the cover of the record for what it proposes to open that fly”, the musician and graphic designer Javier Veraldi At Tlam’s request, he offered some details on the creation of Pasche.
“It belongs to the aesthetics of the moment it was made, a time when it was believed that the best design had to be as synthetic as possible, almost pictogrammatic,” commented the designer who from his studio Ground Floor C created covers since the ’90s. for countless discs.
And he added: “Now maybe I know because it is very installed, but at the time the image with whom it represented was not so pertinent. I mean, if you don’t know the band and I told you it was a logo for a toothpaste, it could be. That’s good. “
In this sense, Veraldi considered that due to his pop imprint he associates drawing more with sounds present in songs such as “Miss you” –A guide of the Stones to disco fashion- than to the traditional rock style of the group. “I associate it more with the works of Lichtenstein or with the Campbell soups of Warhol, a critique of the consumer society,” he pointed out.
“This image has synthesis. On the other hand, it is provocative by metonymy. TOHaving the tongue out means that there is a movement that is to stick out the tongue. Who sticks his tongue out at? What did they say to make you stick your tongue out? And there is also a metaphor because there is no guitar or a microphone, as if it were something related to sport there could be a ball ”, he analyzed.
At the moment, the original created by Pasche is in the Museum of Art and Design, London (known as the Victoria & Albert) after being acquired from its author in 2008, who this time could perceive a slightly more juicy figure than in 1971.
“The most curious thing is that Brian Jones, one of the founders of the band, never knew the logo of the language because he died in 1969. And he was also the member of the group who was most hooked on Hindu fashion,” he commented, by way of of conclusion, Perri.
But as Veraldi remarked, “logos are made by people” and what happened in these 50 years with the Stone language is the complete proof of how a drawing with no clue other than a mouth sticking out its tongue is synonymous with Jagger, Keith Richards and company, and play the riffs of “Satisfaction”, “Start Me Up” or “Honky Town Women” in the auditory memory.
The language stone at the Museum of Art and Design, London