Today, the Sunday Times runs a story claiming that the famous Stones lips logo, traditionally suggested by Mick Jagger to design student John Pasche, was actually inspired by a painting commissioned by Brian Jones from artist Sid Maurer.
I didn’t include the story in Sympathy For The Devil because I haven’t been able to verify it so far, partly because the painting in question is missing – as are so many of Brian’s possessions. (Although some items survived, I have established in Sympathy For The Devil that some of Brian’s items were taken and later sold by Stones driver Tom Keylock.)
If the logo was inspired by a painting commissioned by Brian, it’s hardly a criminal offence, for art in this area has a long history of appropriation. But it would be one more example of how Brian discovered ideas, only to have the credit for inspiration consistently denied by the men he regarded as brothers. This is the theme of Sympathy For The Devil: Brian might have been a flawed person, but the sustained attempts to deny his legacy are unjust, a warped rewriting of history.
Sid’s version: “I think I came up with the tongue idea, rather than Brian. I showed him the picture of a baby with a tongue out, he loved that kind of stuff and we got talking, we were probably high, he told me how he collected photos and that sort of stuff. And it later ended up becoming the tongue. I came back from Brian, scribbled up something, my photo with the tongue. Which wasn’t exactly the Stones tongue but it wasn’t far from it. And Brian takes the painting, and that’s it. ” (As mentioned in the Sunday TImes story, Pasche says he drew the idea from a picture of Kali Mick showed him. )
There’s no independent verification of Sid’s story that I know of, but Maurer is documented as one of the Stones’ circle; he designed sleeves for Columbia and Epic, worked with Andy Warhol in his early days, hung out with Oldham and the Stones in 1966-1968, and went on to design sleeves for Donovan and others.
Main photo: a 1920s baby photo customised by Sid Maurer, a sleeve artist for CBS, Epic and others, who had worked with Warhol and designed sleeves for, among others, Donovan. Maurer says Brian commissioned a painting, based on this photo, with a superimposed tongue and lips, in late 1967 or early 1968.