Black Sabbath logo fonts

12

Few, if any, bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s had a specific ‘brand’ logo that was consistently used throughout their album sleeves and merchandise. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that bands began to see the power of consistently branding their product with the same logo design (e.g. AC/DC, IRON MAIDEN).

Black Sabbath were no exception to this lack of brand identity in their early years and their sleeve designers used a myriad of logo styles to identify their latest release, with complete disregard for design continuity!

Black Sabbath Paranoid Master Of Reality Black Sabbath Vol.4 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Sabotage Technical Ecstasy Never Say Die

1. BLACK SABBATH

Nearly everybody will try and tell you that the debut album sleeve has a logo that is made up of Letraset “Manuscript Capitals”…and they’re wrong! Close, but wrong!.

Here’s the logo from the album sleeve with the same characters from Letraset’s “Manuscript Capitals” positioned beneath for comparison:

Black-Sabbath-logo+letraset

You can see certain similarities, but far too many differences for it to be a close match. It would seem therefore that Marcus Keef (aka Keith MacMillan; read this article on RareRecordCollector.net) either used the Letraset letter forms for inspiration and redrew it to suit the wording ‘Black Sabbath’ or it’s from an entirely different source altogether. Sadly, Mr MacMillan ignored my request for an interview on this and his other album sleeve designs. There is a digitised version of Manuscript Capitals available for download but it is pretty awfully executed and not really worth downloading in my opinion.

2. PARANOID

Another Marcus Keef design and featuring lettering that is obviously hand drawn. There is a reasonable version of this that’s downloadable, called “Dark Black”. Here’s the album logo and the digitised version below for comparison:

Paranoid-logo

What’s immediately apparent is that the ‘counters’ or ‘apertures’ of the B A and P characters are missing or filled in. Otherwise, it’s not a bad rendition.

3. MASTER OF REALITY

Designed by Bloomsbury Group and art directed by Mike Stanford, the design is based on distorted and emboldened lettering using the font Kabel Ultra. With some warping and emboldening of each individual character in Illustrator or Photoshop it would be possible to accurately recreate this logo style:

Master-Of-Reality-logo

4. BLACK SABBATH VOL.4

Here’s another oft-mistakenly identified Sabbath font. Sadly, it’s not Baltar, Balta or Washington Black…it’s hand-drawn and nothing comes close to it in digitised format.

Black-Sabbath-Vol.4-logo

The original logo is at the top, Baltar font in the middle and Washington Black at the bottom. As you can plainly see, neither is anywhere near close.

5. SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH

This album features a distinctive hand drawn lettering style for the album title that dominates the front cover above the striking deathbed scene illustration. The band logo is simply an Old English blackletter font which is very discretely placed beneath the illustration. Cloister Black is freely available.

sabbath-bloody-sabbath-logo

6. SABOTAGE

Simply uses Futura Extra Black Condensed with a hand drawn, stylised ‘S’. This logo was also used by the NEMS record label for the ‘We Sold Our Souls For Rock ‘n’ Roll’ compilation double album in 1976…one of the first times a logo style had been repeated, although it was a cynical label cash-in and not a ‘legitimate’ band release:

sabotage-logo

7. TECHNICAL ECSTASY

Futura Demi Bold for both album title and band ‘logo’.

technical-ecstasy-logo

 

8. NEVER SAY DIE

This album was originally scheduled to have a completely different front cover design by Hipgnosis (it was eventually used for Rainbow’s “Difficult To Cure” LP – see the alternative design as it might have appeared here at RitchieBlackmoresRainbow.wordpress.com)

never-say-die-logo

 

The stencil logo for the Never Say Die album can be closely recreated with Portago font, with the ‘A’ character obviously substituted for the graphic triangle symbol.

12 thoughts on “Black Sabbath logo fonts

  1. […] If you’re interested in band logos and how they were designed then there’s a cool site dedicated to logos and brands. It features a fair bit on AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but has just posted a feature on Black Sabbath’s first 8 albums, including the four Vertigo Swirls as well as Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die.  Click here to go to WhatsThatFont… […]

  2. Very insightful. I am a huge huge fan of the original Black Sabbath, and also a graphic designer, so I can appreciate your attention to detail. They are classic images. I am really surprised no one has yet produced a “Vol4” font!

  3. The SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH ITS ”Spinal Tap” Font

    • No it’s not. Spinal Tap font doesn’t have all the correct characters, just about the lower case ‘a’ is correct…and the font was only created something like 20 years after the album came out…

  4. Darth Mell says:

    daisy rimmed fancy is the name of the font from the first album…

  5. Mr. Lister says:

    I think the Masters of Reality logo is maybe a combination of Kabel and Futura Extra Condensed Black. The diagonal shift on the ‘T’ crossbar ends and the end of ‘L’ foot suggests Kabel. However, the flat ends and open space(s) of the ‘C’ and ‘S’ matches closer to Futura Extra Condensed. Since this was all designed by hand, no computer layout happening back in the 70’s, it would pretty safe to say they used both fonts as reference to make the logo and not strictly used one font or the other. My observation.

  6. Yago Reck says:

    Please, I need to know what is the VENOM logo font!

  7. What about the font for the actual title of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath?

  8. Dave says:

    Does anyone know the font used in the “Never Say Die!” portion of that record…..I know the Black Sabbath portion is Portago. I’m just looking for something similar to the script used in the album title. Thanks!

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