You may not be familiar with 70’s English super group Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) or H. R. Giger, the designer of their logo, but you’re probably aware of his illustration and set design work in the movies.
So you think you know logos? Here’s a nice obscure one for you. Before the release of Brain Salad Surgery in 1973, British super group Emerson Lake and Palmer didn’t have a logo per se, but when keyboardist Keith Emerson saw Swiss artist Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger‘s airbrushed illustration work for the cover, he decided to make the stylized E, L and P from it (right) the official band mark.
Despite being released over forty years ago, the album art – a die cut fold out that opened up to reveal a painting based on Giger’s wife – is still featured on most ‘best album art’ lists. The die cut aspect of the original vinyl release is not featured on most subsequent CD re-releases.
Never paid for?
According to a book written by Giger, the band never paid his bill for the artwork, even though the imagery has become part of the band’s overall brand, and is even featured on the fuel tank of Emerson’s Harley Davidson and on his personal website.
The logo has been stylized many times over the years, including a version that sees it sitting on a shield, above crossed swords.
Most of you will be more familiar with Giger’s work in the movie Alien, for which he designed the original monster, as well as most of the alien spaceship featured in the first half of the film. He won an Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects in 1979 for that work.Giger has worked with many recording artists, designing album covers and logos for Deborah Harry (Blondie), Danzig and The Dead Kennedys.
One of my heroes.
I first learned of H.R. Giger way back in 1974. I was a kid of 13, just starting to explore music and I picked up a copy of ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery album, for which – as we mentioned earlier – he had designed the cover. I was also just starting to explore the world of illustration at the time, found the artwork fascinating yet disturbing and needed to know more about the guy behind it. I signed out a couple of books about Giger from the local library, spent hours pouring over the pictures inside and reading little anecdotal stories about this strange, yet obviously genius, Swiss painter and sculptor. Since then, I’ve always been mesmerized by his sculptures, acrylic and air-brush paintings and he’s either my first, second or third favorite artist depending when you asked (Pat Nagel and Roger Dean are the others.) In a world where there’s very little originality, Giger’s work is instantly recognizable – unique and sometimes frightening. His style would eventually be copied by many, but nobody could touch his disturbing, weirdly erotic masterpieces. The creature from Alien may be his most famous and commercially successful creation, but that’s just a tiny bit of his immense portfolio and volume of work.