The story of how the Beatles got their famous logo

News 21/11/2018

We all recognise the Beatles iconic logo, but what's the story behind?

Basically for the first few years the band didn't have a logo. It was never featured on any of the Beatles' original albums recorded in the UK, and it only came about in April of 1963, three years after the foursome formed the band. 

The logo's first appearance was on Ringo Starr's bass drum, a Ludwig set which he got from Drum City, a shop on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. Founded by Ivor Arbiter in 1929, Drum City was a popular destination for jazz drummers at the time. Arbiter recalled his encounter with “Ringo, Schmingo, whatever his name was, at that time I certainly hadn’t heard of The Beatles.”

The Beatles were already reasonably well-known by this point though, having released their debut studio album 'Please Please Me' the month before, which remained at No. 1 for 30 weeks - and unprecedented feat at the time. 

Despite Arbiter's claims of not knowing the band, he still agreed to give Ringo his last Ludwig Downbeat drumkit in oyster black pearl finish for free, as requested by the band's manager Brian Epstein. The only condition was that Starr kept the Ludwig brand visible on the front, as Arbiter had an exclusive distribution deal with the brand and wanted to give it some publicity.

Epstein agreed to the condition, as long as the band's name also appeared prominently on the kit. Arbiter then sketched a logo, with a large B and extended T, in the form that we recognise of the logo today. Epstein then paid a measly £5 to Drum City to paint the logo on the bass drum, and so Arbiter gave the logo to a local sign painter, Eddie Stokes, to finalise it. 

This is the form the logo kept until the band's Paris performance on February 4, 1964. The new logo made it's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9:

The new logo was also painted by Stokes, but it now occupied most of the drum's face and used a bolder typeface. This is the logo that was used for the Beatles' first US tour, and then proceeded to evolve slightly seven separate times between then and 1967. 

During the filming of 'Let It Be' in 1969, Ringo got his last Beatles skin. Having never appeared on any of the band's original album covers though, a version of the Beatles' logo combining all the drum heads was only registered as a trademark by the Beatles company Apple Corps in the 1990s.