The British pop music magazine Smash Hits ran from 1978 to 2006. From Smash Hits Remembered:
Smash Hits was founded in 1978 by Nick Logan, who had previously edited the New Musical Express during one of its most creative periods and went on to create ’80s fashion bible The Face. […] The backbone of the magazine in its early years, and one of its major early selling points, was the publication of Top 20 song lyrics. […] During this period, appearing on the cover of Smash Hits was a sign that an act had finally ‘arrived’. […] For most of the 1980s and early 1990s it was the first choice magazine for many teenagers, at its peak selling half a million copies every bi-weekly issue. A record breaking issue in 1989, featuring Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, sold more than a million copies!
This post documents the first four versions of the magazine’s logo, spanning the publication’s most influential years — from italic Antique Olive Nord (1978) to equally heavy Futura-like caps (1980), to the iconic combination of Allegro and Volta (1982), and finally the angular condensed letterforms of Grecian (1985) which remained in use until September 2000.
All images courtesy of Brian McCloskey of Like Punk Never Happened, the definitive Smash Hits archive. He adds a new issue every fortnight, always on the thirtieth anniversary of the original publication date.
As mentioned in the article, the design of the first issue is credited to “Ross George”. According to Pop Life: Inside Smash Hits Australia 1984–2007, this was a pseudonym of Steve Bush, though. He later became the magazine’s fifth editor, and was responsible for all logo versions, see “The people who brought you Smash Hits” on the If You Were There blog.
In an interview conducted by Stephen Hill (non-Flash version hosted by Michael Mouse), Vici MacDonald, who was a designer (1984–85) and art editor (1986–87) at Smash Hits, comments on the magazine’s logos:
[Bush] made a point of changing the logo, quite arbitrarily, every year. This was designed in a purely instinctive manner; he’d just work his way through interesting font combinations till he came up with something he liked. Changing a magazine logo is generally considered a big deal, and market research is usually involved, so this was pretty radical stuff within a traditional publishing company like EMAP. Once Bush left, his final logo — an angular condensed woodcut introduced circa 1985 — was retained for around another decade before anyone else dared change it again.
I see Gill Sans in the second issue from October 1980.
“JOHN TRAVOLTA” is ITC Pioneer
“10 PLASTIC BERTRAND’S” is Premier Shaded
When I get time I find the name of the other fonts as I do recognise some of them.
You got those right, Luke! But this entry is just about the logos.
Photo(s) by “Steve” on Flickr.
Contributed by Gareth Hague
Contributed by Stephen Coles