Perhaps no genre on earth has seen as many iconic band logos as punk rock. There is The Ramones’ crest, The Descendents’ Milo cartoon, and whatever the hell Jawbreaker’s thing is. However, none hold as much impact as Black Flag’s bold four-bar design.
Designed by artist Raymond Pettibon, the Black Flag logo is one of the most immediately recognizable logos in music history. Henry Rollins even has it tattooed on himself four times. He may have more, actually, but I haven’t seen him nude.
Anyways, fans of the group have long debated their favorite frontman or recording but diehards will tell you the dispute that has plagued them for years is deciding the best of the four bars. After weeks of intense (and sometimes verbally assaultive) discussion with my Hard Times colleagues, I have come up with the ultimate ranking.
The least spectacular of the bunch, the far-right bar looks like it’s ready to jump off the logo. The logo would honestly be better off without it.
Look at those daring, brazen lines and the vacuous shade of black. The logo represents a vicious antithesis to the white flag of surrender, and with the inclusion of a beautifully constructed bar like this, it’s easy to see why. However, rumor has it this was Keith Morris’ least favorite of the four.
Black Flag famously slowed down the tempos on My War, directly inspiring the creation of sludge metal. I want to slow down my tempo and look at this beautiful bar all day long. The way it’s nestled between the adjacent two is playful and coy, but its firmly drawn lines hint at a level of sincerity the other bars lack.
Boy, does the logo start off with a bang. This is truly the Mona Lisa of black rectangles. Your eyes start at the top, skitter through the monolithic mass of black nothingness in the center, and then fall to a soft landing at its base. It’s truly a masterwork. Kudos, Mr. Pettibon!
Well there you have it, the irrefutable ranking of the Black Flag bars. Henry, if you’re reading this, please return my calls.