Video: The tongue and lips logo returns to South Kensington
Victoria Broackes: When the V& A bought the Rolling Stones' tongue and lips logo for £50,000 in September 2008, there was a storm of interest from the public and the media. It is, after all, the best known band logo of all time. It was designed by a young art student, John Pasche.
John Pasche: I spent three years doing my BA degree at Brighton and managed to get into the Royal College of Art from there, which was quite an experience, really, because they were only taking very few students at that time. It was quite a prestigious situation to be in, to be admitted there. I think it' s probably the best three years of my life.
There was a fellow student called Storm Ferguson who was working with Pink Floyd at the time and he' d asked a chap, George Hardy, who was in the same class as me, to draw up the artwork for ' Dark Side of the Moon' . So, I was working on this Stones poster and he was working on the ' Dark Side of the Moon' image which I think is one of the most iconic pieces of the era as well. The commission I had from the Rolling Stones was when I was in my third year at the College. The College received a phone call from the Rolling Stones' office asking if they could suggest a suitable student to work on a tour poster which was going to be the 1970 tour poster for Europe. And they suggested that I go along and have a meeting with Jagger, Mick Jagger. Obviously quite an experience. I went along to his offices in Maddox Street and there was his manager there, Jo Bergman and just himself. We generally talked about design and art. Both had an interest in 1930s and 40s tour posters. The response when I did the first design that I took in to Mick Jagger to hopefully OK, was a bit lukewarm actually. He said that he thought that I could do better. I think it was possibly to do with the colour and composition of the one before. But I did, in the second finished poster, add some more interesting elements - I think Concorde for one was suddenly appearing in a 1930s/40s tour poster, if you like. But I think what he liked about it was that it was getting away from what had been done before. In other words, it wasn' t necessarily a picture of the band on the road, it was to do with touring and I think that was in line with the basic ideas that we talked about originally. Thankfully he really liked the last version I did and it went on to be printed and it turned out to be quite a success for the band and it led on to the logo commission.
I received a commissioning letter, which was basically a follow up to a phone call I had which asked me to go for a meeting with Mick Jagger, this time at his house in Cheyney Walk to discuss the new logo. It was quite a short meeting really, but he presented me with a cutting - it was actually something he' d found in a local corner shop. It was an Indian picture of the Kali goddess - the goddess with the pointed tongue that came straight down and said ' This is the kind of thing I' m into - I quite like this' . We talked about it and he said to just go away and do something and then come back and we' d talk some more. So I think it was almost, really during that meeting that I just suddenly thought the use of a mouth - I had an idea that that would be something to base some ideas on. I went away and did some drawings which were very similar to what we finished up with, but just variations really of angles and tones and so on. And he really liked it. So I finished one up as artwork and I think he went to show it to the rest of the band and they were very happy with it. And I got my £50 which was what I was paid for doing it.
A lot of the artwork then was produced in black and white on layers of film. So the different layers would be nomianted a colour and when it came to printing them it would then be printed in red and black instead of the two layers of black which is on the art work.
A lot of people ask me if it was based on Mick Jagger' s lips and I have to say that it wasn' t initially, but it might have been something that was unconscious and also really dovetailed into the basic idea for the design. It was a number of things and I' m certainly conscious of the fact that it might have been influenced by Mick Jagger himself.
I think it took about two weeks in all, really. Obviously I was sitting there every evening working on it non-stop! But I think having got the basic idea of what I wanted to do quite quickly, everything felt right about it, so it was really a matter of trying to express it in a very simple and very easy to reproduce manner. I was very aware that it would be used a lot of the time in a very small size, so it had to be something, as I said, would have to be very basic.
Victoria Broackes: The log was commissioned ion 1970 to be used on writing paper and tour programmes and was actually first used in 1971 as an insert to the album ' Sticky Fingers' It was such a striking image that it became the official logo for the band' s own record label, Rolling Stones Records and it has been used on every album since.
John Pasche: I think it' s stood the test of time because it' s kind of a universal statement. I mean, sticking out your tongue at something is very kind of anti-authority and a protest really. I think maybe that young people of various generations have picked that up.
When I' m out and about on holiday, it' s always a bit of a surprise when somebody comes around the corner wearing a t-shirt or whatever. I' m amazed now and probably will always be amazed that it' s been merchandised so much and travelled so far round the globe, really.
I think it' s great that the logo' s finally come back here because it' s so close to where I started at the College and it' s comforting for me to know that it' s somewhere where it' s safe and it will often be exhibited and it won' t be locked away or sold to somebody else, which might have happened if I' d sold it privately.
Victoria Broackes: The tongue and lips logo has come back to South Kensington after a 39 year absence and is now hanging at the Victoria and Albert Museum.