One of the first logos that should spring to every punk head, no matter generation or clique, is the four simple black bar logo of Black Flag. Raymond Ginn, Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn's brother, is credited this genius stroke of simplicity, a very distinct and easy recognizable graphical image, easy for even the fans with no artistic skills to reproduce, either by cutting out a stencil or simply doing it by freehand. Of course I made dozens of home made BF tees and patches myself, using that stinky marker so the shirts had a tendency to be unusually short lived. But what a great fucking piece of DIY masterpiece, along with the name, which was also Raymonds idea.
Design: Glenn Danzig/Jerry Only
Few bands in punk and hardcore have been more successful at brand marketing, conceptual gimmick and conduction of a unique style that set them apart from most other bands among their peels, almost to the extent of being a sub genre of punk themselves, or at least, the very true originators of “Horror Punk” or “Death Punk”. All this embodied in that enigmatic skull that first appeared on the Horror Business 7”. The skull was adopted from a poster for the The Crimson Ghost, a 1946 Horror movie. Timeless motif for ya punked up,patched up leather jacket, sticker for guitar or skateboard and of course on the pitched black t-shirt.
How simple can it possibly be done? And yet so graphically strong, symbolically charged and most perfect as a unifying symbol for the private teenage cult singer DARBY CRASH envisioned in his “Circle One”. This inner circle of female followers, “Crash Trash”, stalkers and copycats was initiated right after launching the band, clearly inspired by Charles Manson, Ron Hubbards Church Of Scientology and other New Religious sect, with himself on top, of course. Despite the anti-fascist resentments standing strong within the punk even in the early morning of Punk Rock, DARBY never tried to cover up his liking for fascism, quoting from Mein Kampf in some THE GERMS interviews. He was probably looking a visual symbol which had the qualities of a political symbol, minimal, distinct and suitable for a bandana, just to ensure the fascist connotations even more. DARBY made references to the "eternal recurrence" concept of Friedrich Nietzsche and Oswald Spenglers cyclical historical understanding to explain the choice of the logo further, as to the “Germsburn”(cigarette burn on wrist) rite, leaving a circle formed scar on skin that was to show the lifelong association with the band and “Circle On”. However, it was actually drummer DON BOLLES that came up with the idea of using the symbol as band logo.
This was the first punk logo that grabbed a hold of my obsession, resulting in “DKs” all over the place, on rucksacks, school books, public walls, wardrobe closet doors etc. JELLO BIAFRA, who should have proved his sense of business and successful marketing strategies by now, was no fool hiring the graphic design genius Winston Smith for the job of providing logo as other legendary cover and inlay artwork for the DEAD KENNEDY'S. Many punks will probably say this is the number one punk/hardcore logo of all times, possessing a somewhat iconic shrine that should be tough to compete with.
CRASS was a story of their own. They might be credited for transforming a youth quake of nihilism, hedonism and total lack of political preferences into just the same miserable strain of utopian belief and far fetched dreaming as the previous template of youth rebellion proved itself to be. If anyone should know a thing or two about this particular paradigm shift in the history of popular music, it ought to be this collective. Originally, before punk came around, they all were long haired hippies who had managed to survive the transition from the escapism of the late 60s to the violent 70s. Now they cut their hair, put on black suits made out of some military surplus, bandanas, waving circle-A banners in the air, basically looking like some new born fascist grassroots urban guerrilla group. But the ideals were trusted to be left unchanged; “…do they owe us a living, course they fucking do…”. CRASS had this unique blend of politics, Do-It-Yourself ethics, art, protest culture and, needless to say, just the same ambitions and goals of becoming something like THE CLASH as everybody else, though they put a lot of effort into keep that last element hidden between some bombastic refrains in stencil print fonts. I have always wondered if a lack of technical skills or musicianship forced they to put extra effort into the gimmick side of the band, crafting a conceptual approach towards the world of both art and politics; with their suits, bandanas, banners, stencil prints etc. Their logo is somewhat a little work of genius, a symbol perfectly set to capture all of the threads mentioned above, but at the same time remaining genuinely fictive. Originally, Dave King designed it for drummer and chief ideologue PENNY RIMBAUDS Christ’s Reality Asylum book, where he basically took the Christian cross, the Union Jack, the Swastika and two ornamented snakes and fused them together, in a mish mash of ancient and modern symbols. A most suitable amalgamation of several "icons of authority", I must say, in a striking black and white image.