When I designed a logo for an unknown band from Manchester in 1993 I had no idea the affect it would have on my life and career. The band themselves would go on to be the biggest rock n roll phenomenon of their generation and were of course, Oasis.
In early 1993, Oasis had no fans, no record deal and no logo. In an attempt to change the metrics of this dynamic, Noel Gallagher with Oasis in tow headed to Liverpool to record the band’s first demo session with Liverpudlian band The Real People producing and helping out. Noel had befriended the Real People while on tour with the Inspiral Carpets with whom he was a roadie. The Realies were a proper band, with a recording contract and, more importantly, recording equipment. Once the session was completed, Noel – who knew a thing about marketing and how the industry worked via his experience with the Inspirals, knew that the presentation of the newly finished ‘Live Demonstration’ cassette was almost as important as the music contained within. With this in mind he commissioned friend of the band Tony French to create a band logo, based on the Union Jack, an approximation of which was painted on their Boardwalk rehearsal room wall.
Tony took the Union Jack motif and in down time at work ran it through a programme called Quark Xpress – the result was the ‘Union Jack Swirl’, he knew he was onto something and added the type using the font Univers Black italic. Tony’s concept was the vortex created by Oasis’ mind bending music took you to another dimension through the swirl. Noel, on the other hand, commented it looked like the flag going down the plughole and asked Tony to add a plug to the design!
In a decision that affected a million teenagers bedroom walls, Tony omitted the plug from the design, then ran off ten copies of the cassette inlay and the cassettes themselves in Guigsy’s bedroom. I was given one of the ten, now legendary cassettes (last one sold changed hands for £6,000!!!) I detail in the video HERE what happened to my copy.
A few months after recording the session and running off the tapes Oasis were seen by total chance by Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records who offered to sign them on the spot, he too was given one of the cassettes – but later said he’d already made his mind up to sign them based on the live performance alone.
Once signed, the band had to start thinking of record sleeve artwork and a logo that would work across every type of media imaginable, including black and white press ads – this was of course in pre-internet times and the printed medium was king. It was the need for a logo that worked clearly in black and white that led to a need for change from the Union Jack swirl device.
Noel asked me to take charge of all Oasis artwork having seen the work I'd previously done for (The) Verve. I met the band for the first time as a whole in any creative capacity (I’d met Liam and Noel several times before) in Sheffield when they supported the BMX Bandits in October 1993 – at this meeting, the new ‘Decca Records’ inspired logo was conceived, inspired by the Rolling Stones second album I saw in a book I’d taken to the meeting – not to get ideas, but to see what they did and didn’t like.
To see how the logo was developed and to find out what happened to my copy of one of the ten cassettes, give the video 'Oasis Band Logo History' a view HERE. It’s the first offering from the new Microdot YouTube channel. I have been promising this channel for about ten years now and as a result of being super busy never actually got round to doing it – now I have done it, if you like the first vid, please like, share, subscribe to the channel, tell your friends – all the rest of it and if I get a good response I’ll do more films about all the other artworks we created at Microdot for Oasis, The Verve, Ash, Super Furries, Suede and many more.
Brian Cannon - Microdot Creative Director.