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Buzzcocks band logo

How a design student created a wordmark that became an icon of UK punk. In memory of songwriter and singer Pete Shelley, 1955–2018.

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Dec 7th, 2018. Artwork published in .
    “Love Battery” poster, 1977
    Source: https://www.itsnicethat.com Malcolm Garrett. License: All Rights Reserved.

    “Love Battery” poster, 1977

    Released in autumn 1977, “Orgasm Addict” was the first single by punk band Buzzcocks, following their debut EP Spiral Scratch. It also marked the first appearance of the band’s logo in its final form. A proto-version had been featured on a promotional poster designed by 21-year-old Malcolm Garrett, then in his second year at Manchester Poly.

    “It was my first piece of professional work, and my first thing for Buzzcocks, which led to a relationship that continues to this day. People don’t really know the story of that original poster. I screen printed it by hand, in college. I was listening to Buzzcocks lyrics and this song Love Battery, from the first album, stood out.” — Malcolm Garrett, It’s Nice That

    Over on BandLogoJukeBox, Jim K Davies has a detailed account of how the logo came to life:

    [Garrett had] used the largest sized Compacta Regular Italic Letraset he could find, rubbed down the relevant letters, photographed them, printed them onto bromide paper, sliced them down the middle, stuck them down on board, and inked in the gap in Rotring pen. “It was a bit tricky, particularly to get the typeface thin enough,” he recalls.

    But he wasn’t quite happy with this early incarnation. “I felt the spacing around the Zs wasn’t quite right, so I modified them,” he recalls. The new and improved logo duly took pride of place in the bottom right corner of ‘Orgasm Addict’ — in a dark blue, running on the vertical. Its forward-slanting letterforms give it a sense of attack, the outside Z’s a jagged punky edge. It was accompanied by a striking montage of an iron-headed woman created by Linder. The iron came from an Argos catalogue, while the female torso was lifted from a ‘top shelf’ magazine.

    The logo with the nested double Z would appear on virtually all subsequent releases, in various forms including hand-painted and angular interpretations, and stayed in use until this day.

    Detail of a Letraset “instant lettering” sheet with (upright) Compacta in 144pt. The largest available size for Compacta Italic was 72pt, according to a catalog from 1990.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    Detail of a Letraset “instant lettering” sheet with (upright) Compacta in 144pt. The largest available size for Compacta Italic was 72pt, according to a catalog from 1990.

    This comparison shows unmodified Compacta Italic (resetting using the digital version by Bitstream) next to the Buzzcocks logo as it’s featured on the “Orgasm Addict” sleeve. See also the Soundgarden mark for another band logo with selectively elongated letterforms.
    Florian Hardwig. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    This comparison shows unmodified Compacta Italic (resetting using the digital version by Bitstream) next to the Buzzcocks logo as it’s featured on the “Orgasm Addict” sleeve. See also the Soundgarden mark for another band logo with selectively elongated letterforms.

    “Orgasm Addict”, United Artists Records, 1977.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Bart Solenthaler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    “Orgasm Addict”, United Artists Records, 1977.

    The rounded sans-serif caps used for the song title are probably not made with dry-transfer type, or any other type. They rather resemble the letterforms found in templates available for pantographic scribing devices like Keuffel & Esser’s Leroy. The image shows the related Stano-Script by Standardgraph. See also “From Lettering Guides to CNC Plotters ”— A Brief History of Technical Lettering Tools”. Oscar & Ewan’s Leroy (Colophon, 2012) is a digital font family based on a similar lettering template.
    Photo: Florian Hardwig. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    The rounded sans-serif caps used for the song title are probably not made with dry-transfer type, or any other type. They rather resemble the letterforms found in templates available for pantographic scribing devices like Keuffel & Esser’s Leroy. The image shows the related Stano-Script by Standardgraph. See also “From Lettering Guides to CNC Plotters ”— A Brief History of Technical Lettering Tools”. Oscar & Ewan’s Leroy (Colophon, 2012) is a digital font family based on a similar lettering template.

    Back cover. The title of the B-side, “Whatever Happened to?”, is rendered in caps from Rockwell Light, another face that was available as rub-down type from Letraset. This, however, is metal Rockwell, see the comments below.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Klaus Hiltscher. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Back cover. The title of the B-side, “Whatever Happened to?”, is rendered in caps from Rockwell Light, another face that was available as rub-down type from Letraset. This, however, is metal Rockwell, see the comments below.

    7″ record with small print on the label  in @typeentity:1160@.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Klaus Hiltscher. License: All Rights Reserved.

    7″ record with small print on the label in Univers.

    The logo as it appears on nine studio albums released between 1978 and 2014, including sliced and sprayed variants.
    Source: https://buzzcocks.squarespace.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The logo as it appears on nine studio albums released between 1978 and 2014, including sliced and sprayed variants.

    An outlined version of the logo, used as stage decoration at a Buzzcocks concert in 2010.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Marcus Kamps. License: All Rights Reserved.

    An outlined version of the logo, used as stage decoration at a Buzzcocks concert in 2010.

    Pinback button posted by Malcolm Garrett to commemorate Buzzcocks singer Pete Shelley, 1955–2018.
    Source: https://twitter.com Malcolm Garrett. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Pinback button posted by Malcolm Garrett to commemorate Buzzcocks singer Pete Shelley, 1955–2018.

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    6 Comments on “Buzzcocks band logo”

    1. Dec 7th, 2018  5:45 pm

      Thank you. Nice post.

      Just an extra note on typography for the Orgasm Addict sleeve. All the type on the back cover (including the Rockwell assumed above to be Letraset) was handset by me in cold metal in the typography department of Manchester Polytechnic’s Graphic Design building, which in 1977 was in an annexe in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. (The building is now a hotel)

    2. Dec 7th, 2018  5:59 pm

      Great to hear from you personally!

      Thanks for the extra info, it’s much appreciated. An interesting mix, in terms of production means! I’ve added a note to that caption. Is the other assumption correct; are the rounded sans-serif caps on the front cover based on a scribing device?

    3. Dec 8th, 2018  12:00 am

      Yes, the lettering for ‘Orgasm Addict’ itself was done with drawing office lettering stencil and Rötring pen (probably 0.5mm).

    4. Norman Hathaway says:
      Dec 8th, 2018  5:42 am

      Malc

      Am I drunk, or did you tell me you had some inspiration from a shitty fashion ad?

    5. Dec 8th, 2018  8:42 pm

      For the poster, yes. The image is, as you note, culled from a tiny b/w advert in a newspaper for ‘one-legged tights’. I just ripped it out and enlarged it!

    6. Dec 8th, 2018  8:43 pm

      The montage by Linder uses source material from a ‘Men’s’ mag and a domestic appliances catalogue.

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