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John Pasche

Pasche was awarded a sought-after place at the Royal College of Art after graduating from Brighton, where he found himself working alongside George Hardy who was working on the album cover for Pink Floyd’s iconic Dark Side of the Moon. Pasche was then himself recommended by the College to attend a meeting with Mick Jagger to discuss a commission for a Stones’ 1970 tour poster.

After the two discovered that they shared an interest in 1930s and ‘40s posters, he came up with the idea of departing from the traditional image of the band and produced a retro travel poster with Concorde flying overhead. The design met with approval and as a result John was commissioned to create a logo.

In a second meeting at his Cheyne Walk home, Mick Jagger showed John a picture he liked of the Hindu goddess Kali. Kali is generally portrayed with a pointed red tongue which has had many interpretations over the years, from a weapon or a symbol of blood to a defiant gesture designed to tease, mock or provoke. John immediately began to envisage the concept that would translate into one of the most famous images in our cultural history.

The hot lips logo expressed an idea in a way that was both simple and striking, and it had the added advantage of remaining easily recognisable even when greatly reduced in size. It was first used in 1971 as an insert to the album Sticky Fingers, and then became the official logo for the band’s record label, Rolling Stones Records. Since then it has been used on every album they have released and is known all over the world.

When asked whether the logo was based on the famous Jagger lips, John says no, but believes he may have been unconsciously influenced. He believes that one reason the design has stood the test of time is because, “It’s a universal statement, I mean sticking out your tongue at something is very anti-authority, a protest really… various generations have picked that up.”

Since 1970 John has been garlanded with countless awards, has held some of the most high-profile creative posts in the country and has lectured at the Royal College of Art. The original artwork for the tongue and lips logo is held in the collections of the V&A.

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