You never would have guessed that superstar rock and roll band Van Halen had an identity crisis from the start. The current logo is very different from the original. The logo was just one part of the sometimes painful transformation process that the band members endured during their early years as a new sensation entering the music industry. Here is a very interesting story and the story behind the Van Halen logo.
The first Van Halen logo
According to Fandom’s Logopedia, the first Van Halen logo emerged in 1972. It was an internal project that was hand-drawn by Mark Stone, Van Halen’s original bassist. Stylistically, it was very different from the current version. The left side of the letter V was elongated at the top. It seems that it could have served as inspiration for the wings that would later be incorporated into the logo. The letters were simple with a unique combination of uppercase and lowercase letters (VAnhAlen). Older licensed merchandise, like T-shirts from this era, still feature the band’s original logo. This logo would remain in use until it was changed in 1978.
Van Halen’s identity crisis
The Rock File reveals the story about Van Halen’s identity crisis and how the situation affected the logo. Site staff pointed out how the first four albums lacked consistency with the Van Halen logo and style. There seemed to be a lot of confusion as they went back and forth between a variety of different styles. Until 1984, there was good consistency, but after that time it was disappointing to see the nondescript font spelling out the band’s name without fanfare. It was understandable to get rid of the original logo. It featured so many steep hills and V-shaped valleys that it didn’t make a very good impression. It’s more the lack of consistency and smoothness that led many to wonder if Van Halen was having an identity crisis. They were certainly concerned about their logo.
The Van Halen logo from 1978
1000 Logos provides an image of the 1978 logo that was much closer to the symbol that has been used ever since. The image took on the characteristics of the flying V-wings in a metallic-toned capital VH with the Van Halen name placed as a banner in the top center of the two initial letters. It was a cool look that features blue, black, and yellow accents. Warner Brothers Records introduced an alternate logo to the band members, and it was featured in a ragged font that turned out to be disappointing for the group. This was an attempt by the label to force Van Halen into the punk rock mold, which is something they were unwilling to do. Dave Bhang was the creator of the logo that proved successful in the end. It featured the famous and iconic wings that make the logo easy to recognize. It was a simple interpretation of the initials of the name VH.
Van Halen had to stand his ground
The battle continued for the punk rock interpretation of the logo. The rejected version appeared on a promotional EP. The band was so insistent that the album not be sold that they eventually wore down the executives in charge of the EP. Van Halen won when the label removed him. It’s worth noting that the iconic winged initial logo only appeared on two albums. Most fans have wondered why the “coolest logo of all time” wasn’t seen anymore. The history of the logo discrepancies only serves to support the theory that Van Halen had an identity crisis when it came to deciding on an image for the brand and then sticking with it. If there was ever any confusion about how Van Halen wanted his group to be represented, there was none when it came to gender choice. They weren’t willing to let a label consider them a punk band.
The wings turned into gold rings
In 1986, the Van Halen logo underwent another change. The V and H now featured a wraparound circle instead of the wings. The three rings with a VH were the only elements of the logo, creating a clean look, but did not have the same appeal as the wings. The new logo came about when Sammy Hagar took over as the band’s lead singer. When Eddie Van Halen checked into a rehab center in March 2007, the band changed their website and reverted to the original design. It’s worth noting that this logo is no longer used for licensed merchandise. Although there was something almost majestic about the lines that wrapped around the back, particularly in gold, it looked more like an engagement ring than the symbol of a rock and roll band.
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