Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Logo #21: AC/DC
Despite repeated allegations by a few staunch Christian evangelicals that AC/DC's lightning bolt is a Satanic one, designer Gerard Huerta responds, "It is difficult to understand the controversy of this lettering when you know the origin. I was an album designer at CBS and in 1975 I did some lettering for a Blue Öyster Cult live album called "On Your Feet or On Your Knees." As it featured a church on the cover, I researched Bible lettering, in particular Gutenberg Bible, the first printed book. I designed the lettering based on these religious forms that came from hand-done calligraphy. I rendered them in metal as there was a limousine on the cover and I thought the idea of a car marque would be cool. In 1976 I designed some lettering for an album called "AC/DC High Voltage." They had used the lightning bolt to represent electricity in the Australian version so I was asked to design one into the lettering. In 1977 I was asked to design some lettering for an album called "AC/DC Let There Be Rock," on obvious reference to the bible. I recalled the lettering I used on Blue Öyster Cult and designed this version to be placed in the sky which was shining down on the group on stage. The orange contrasted nicely with the dark blue sky and I added dimension to the lettering as in the Blue Öyster Cult job. In the late '70s there was a rush of typography which seemed to be influenced by this style and was referred to as "Goth." Maybe as a result of the types of groups that AC/DC and Blue Öyster Cult were this typography started to be associated with heavy music. But as you can see from my standpoint it was more "Gutenberg" than "Goth"." This was a calligraphic style that also manifested in barrio murals and gang graffiti throughout the greater metropolitan Los Angeles area. Huerta also designed the logos for Nabisco, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and Eternity perfume(!). Fortunately, the satanic lightning-bolt crowd has moved on to the evils of Harry Potter and homos and we're all really glad they did.