The history of the logo and album covers of the AC / DC group
Wondering where it came from iconic AC/DC logo? Where did Angus Young come from, impaled by his own Gibson SG… or shaking from a powerful electric shock… or with horns and a tail?
The AC/DC Beyond The Thunder podcast discusses these questions with art director Bob Defrin, the man who helped one of the greatest bands of all time become one of the greatest brands of all times.
Background: The band's beginnings with Atlantic Records
When AC/DC became more or less popular, the participants decided that they needed to develop. They signed with Atlantic Records. The label later played a big role in the band's career.
When Phil Carson, VP of Atlantic Records, the man who signed AC/DC to the label, is asked, why he wanted to work with this group, he replies without a twinge of conscience:
“They were a great rock and roll band. And the contract with them was the best deal in the history of the music business.
And this despite the fact that the group back in 1975 did not have one tenth from the popularity and the fanbase that she will have in the future. But Atlantic Records already saw a powerful musical potential in young Australians.
At the moment signing the contract, the art director of Atlantic Records was Bob Defrin - it was thanks to him that the group got a new logo and it was thanks to him that the group began to have exorbitant creative album covers.
Bob Defrin's introduction to AC/DC
Back in the early 1970s, Defrin became the main artdirector Atlantic Records. The label had musicians at its disposal from Aretha Franklin to Eric Clapton and FOREIGNER. Then came AC/DC, which looked more like cartoonish.
Defrin listened to this obscure Australian band and decided that the art design associated with them "should be similar to their music. She comes in, hits you on the head and leaves. The cover of their album should do the same.”
Defrin on the 'AC/DC Beyond The Thunder' podcast cover to cover explained ideas, which underlie each of the AC/DC album covers he has produced for them. Starting with the very first - Let There Be Rock. Defrin also talked about origins one of the band's greatest, if not greatest, symbols, the gothic AC/DC logo.
“Then I should have received a fee for this!”
From the golden era of the 1970s albums Powerage, If You Want Blood (You've Got It) and Highway To Hell, to the 1990s The Razors Edge and Ballbreaker, Defrin's initial rapport with the Young brothers shifted into communication through sketches, photo shoots and phone calls.
“When I had ideas that I was going to use, I called Malcolm or Angus and described them to them. “They were always involved in matters of album covers, but they did not sit at your shoulder telling you what to do. It was just amazing to work with them. You could chat with them and not suspect that you are talking to some of the leading rock musicians on the planet. I really enjoyed doing design work for AC/DC."
If you describe the work of Defrin, it begs epithets: straightforward, powerful, uncomplicated, and sometimes shocking. Back in the days before Photoshop existed, expanded special effects ideas for LP sleeves. A striking example is the cover of the live album If You Want Blood (You've Got It).
Defrin in an interview boasted idea:
"We stuck Angus' guitar in him!"
The famed designer also talked about collaborations with the band during the 1980s, including designing covers for their monster LP Back In Black and subsequent For The About To Rock and Flick Of The Switch. By this time the group had begun take more creative control.
"Maybe I would do something different, but what an art director does is unique, it's a big responsibility," he says. "You're packaging someone else's talent so you can't let your ego get in the way of it."
In that combined The band's incredible music catalog and intense art work gives the impression that AC/DC as a band and as a brand won't end never.
“A good cover does not necessarily help a good album. But the bad one can kill the album.”
Defrin's words can perceive as a creative mantra that transcends the time when vinyl was king.