Steve Douglas on May 14th, 2010

Ramones logo

Like most logos, the design for the Ramones was created with a purpose. To brand the group as the quintessential All-American rock band using imagery from The Presidential Seal. And while the Ramones are no more, their legend, and famous eagle, live on.

So you think you know logosThe Ramones‘ logo was designed by New York City artist Arturo Vega, a longtime friend who lived with several members of the band. Vega also served as the band’s lighting director and produced the band’s T-shirts, their main source of income during early touring days. Most of those designs featured artwork based on an American Bald Eagle belt buckle whichRamones album cover had appeared on the back sleeve of the Ramones’ first album. Vega was inspired to create the band’s logo design, basing it on The Presidential Seal, after a trip to Washington, D.C., wanting the design to portray ‘An All-American Band’.

The scroll in the eagle’s beak originally read “Look Out Below“, but this was changed to “Hey. Ho. Let’s go” taken from the lyrics of the band’s first single, Blitzkrieg Bop. As an aside, that phrase is also used in several Stephen King novels, while the Ramones recorded the soundtrack song to the film adaptation of King’s Pet Sematary which is, beyond a doubt, my all-time fave Ramone’s track (listen here). Anyhoo, the arrowheads were inspired by a design on a polyester shirt Vega had bought, and were meant to “symbolize strength and the aggression that would be used against whomever dares to attack us.” Similarly, the branch was meant to symbolize an olive branch “offered to those who want to be friendly.” Those with a keen eye will notice that the branch isn’t actually an olive branch at all, but that of an apple tree. The reason? It was changed to represent the Ramones being “as American as apple pie.” The addition of the baseball bat was arbitrary and due mainly to Johnny Ramone‘s love for baseball.

Ramones color logoReplacing the “Seal of the President of the United States” in the circular border, Vega paced band member names, changing them as the band’s lineup evolved over the years. The logo was originally designed in full color (right), but is more often seen in a raw black and white form (above), partially because of the minimalist tread in the New York punk scene of the 1970s, but mostly because it was cheaper to reproduce.

Despite calling themselves the Ramones, all of the band members adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname, and none of them were actually related. They performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years until 1996, when the band played a farewell show and disbanded. Since the breakup, the band’s three founding members – lead singer Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, and bassist Dee Dee Ramone – have all died. Ironically, one of the Ramones’ best selling albums was entitled Too Tough to Die.

RSS subscribe iconThis is part of an ongoing series of So You Think You Know Logos? and was featured in Quiz #2 on rock band logos. To keep up in the latest logo design trivia, subscribe to our blog via e-mail or through your favorite news reader.

 

 

 

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7 Comments to “So you think you know the Ramones logo?”

  1. Thanks for another enlightening entry, Steve. This is one of those logos that– to me– actually works better in B/W. Oh, and the whole “Brain Drain” album’s pretty good, but there’s something about “Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight)” that I dig more than “Sematary”.

    Looking forward to the next entry.

  2. Steve Douglas says:

    Hey Rafael. Agreed on the BW version being much stronger and more effective. It’s got that 70s punk comic book vibe that that Vega has stated he was after.

    Not many true fans dig Pet Sematary, but I have a particular soft spot that goes beyond the song itself. It was the song that was playing when my very first iPod was murdered. I was on my bike listening to Sematary, the iPod fell out of my pocket but was still working when I went back for it. Before I could grab it off the road, a bloody Toyota went ripping over the top of it, smashing it to smithereens. Little click wheels and chips everywhere.

    Sadly there was no iPod Sematary to bury it in.

  3. [...] I don’t know why but I just can’t stand Punk music. By the way, Ramones is one of the earliest and most influential “real” punks bands, and in this article, Steve wonderfully describes the history and design elements of Ramones logo. A few fundamental influences on the genre include MC5, The Velvet Underground, The Who, The Stooges, and yeah, Jimmy Page’s work with The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin – The Logo Factor [...]

  4. Mike Maguire says:

    Question: so… who owns the rights to the logo? Do t-shirt companies pay a licensing fee to the Ramones to the Ramones “estate”?

    Very curious if anyone has any insight into this.

    (Thanks in advance for any and all responses.)

  5. Elle says:

    Good question

  6. Sid Terror says:

    The baseball bat that is held by the eagle was more meant in a band content of one of their songs: “BEAT ON THE BRAT” (…with a baseball bat), than John’s personal love of baseball. There was also a variant in which the eagle was holding a ICBM missile, which was a nod to their album ROCKET TO RUSSIA.

  7. [...] designer of the “Hey Ho Let’s Go” eagle/baseball bat/band member’s name logo that adorned their shirts for 20 plus years. He also provided care for the band in their formative [...]