The 7 Most Iconic Bay Area Band Logos

Categories: Lists

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The third eye logo of Oakland hip-hop crew Hieroglyphics.
By TAMARA PALMER and IAN S. PORT

Having a great band logo is more than art; it's also part science, alchemy, and business smarts. To create something impactful is like capturing lightning in a bottle, and a successful effort results in an image fans will want to show off for years. A few local greats have managed to do pull that off. Here are our picks for the seven best band logos in Bay Area music. Leave yours in the comments.

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7. The Coup

The Coup has such a well-defined aesthetic musically, and the star logo for the radical Oakland hip-hop group led by Boots Riley fits it well. The image suggests a sense of historical and cultural pride -- and the shotgun hanging over the figure's shoulder lets you know the people behind it aren't kidding around.


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6. Mac Dre

Think about late Vallejo rap legend Mac Dre, and chances are the image that pops into your head is a version of this one of him from the cover of 2002's seminal (yes we said it) album Thizzelle Washington. He has another Thizz Nation logo, but this one has been stenciled into logos, painted on alley walls, and imitated countless times. In it, Dre is making his famous "thizz face" -- the look one wears in the grip of an Ecstasy high. Sadly, the ubiquity of this logo-portrait probably came about after (and as a result of) his tragic murder in 2004. But thanks in part to this image, Dre lives on with one of the most recognizable silhouettes in Bay Area music.


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5. The Dead Kennedys

With a seal seen on punk jackets from Berkeley to Berlin, the Dead Kennedys created one of the genre's most enduring logos. Crucially, they didn't go with a stylized type attempt (which has worked well for local punk bands like NOFX and Rancid), but created a circular, nearly symmetrical logo with the band name initials. It's simple and badass.


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4. Green Day

The heart grenade issued circa American Idiot is definitely the bomb, an elegant way to describe the explosive mission of the music. You could argue that it's more a symbol of the album and the Broadway show than the band itself, because Green Day has not been good at sticking with one logo. (Or, more accurately, one way of writing its name.) Nonetheless, the resonance of the heart grenade and its instant association with Green Day make it the East Bay band's strongest visual imprint.


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3. Hieroglyphics

As the legend goes, the Oakland rap collective's international calling card was thought up by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien in elementary school. The group has kept it fresh by using the iconic third eye logo in clever remixes such as the image above.


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2. Metallica

This one also says the actual band name, but 10 million doodle-filled school notebooks aren't wrong. Brilliant in its razor-sharp simplicity and foreboding intensity, Metallica has one of the most iconic logos in music, period.


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1. Grateful Dead

Yes, the Bay Area band with the most iconic logo is without a doubt the Grateful Dead. It had one of the longest-lasting wordless logos in pop music, period. The band also has the cuddly bear logo, but doesn't everyone prefer the skull? It's become visual shorthand for an entire subculture, and it still looks crazy hard.


-- @teemoney415



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14 comments
John Lilly
John Lilly

Flipper had a good one. Maybe Exodus. Journey's infinity thing.

scottabilly
scottabilly

Why is Metallica in this list? Since when is Metallica from the Bay Area?

Greg Smith
Greg Smith

Hiero is the most iconic symbol ever, even beyond music. Where's Dialated Peoples and Visionaries?

Matt Sundstrom
Matt Sundstrom

I remember seing the sign on cats folders and book covers in high school back in 90/91 and not knowin what the hell it was.

Scott Winter
Scott Winter

Dude said since he was 8.. Fuck, I'm old...

Rob Diaz
Rob Diaz

ive been listening to Hiero since i was 8 and that symbol has stayed with me since then it has becomes more than a logo, but a symbol of ideas ,evolution, love and life. Even if the music ever stops, the symbol will live the ideas will flourish and carry on.

steelerboy26
steelerboy26

It seems like that Bay Area group that has a Scarab in most of their artwork and is pretty much known world wide might have made that list... maybe it's just me.


baghdad
baghdad

these are all on point except the Green Day grenade. Are you kidding?

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