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Friday 2 January 2015

The Apple logo


by Patrick Roefflaer

Perhaps this is the right place to add something about the Apple logo. Apple Records of course was The Beatles own record company, launched in the summer of 1968. It was first used on the single ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’.

In 1993 Paul McCartney explained to the Belgian journalist Johan Ral the origins of the Apple idea. “….I had this friend called Robert Fraser, who was a gallery owner in London. We used to hang out a lot. And I told him I really loved Magritte. We were discovering Magritte in the sixties, just through magazines and things. And we just loved his sense of humour. And when we heard that he was a very ordinary bloke who used to paint from nine to one o’clock, and with his bowler hat, it became even more intriguing.
Robert used to look around for pictures for me, because he knew I liked him. It was so cheap then, it’s terrible to think how cheap they were. But anyway, we just loved him … One day he brought this painting to my house.”

Le jeu de mourre - René Magritte 

What happened next is explained by Paul in more detail in the book Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser, by Harriet Vyner (1999)

“I was out in the garden with some friends. I think I was filming Mary Hopkin with a film crew, just getting her to sing live in the garden, with bees and flies buzzing around, high summer. We were in the long grass, very beautiful, very country-like. We were out in the garden and Robert didn’t want to interrupt, so when we went back in the big door from the garden to the living room, there on the table he’d just propped up this little Magritte. It was of a green apple. That became the basis of the Apple logo. Across the painting Magritte had written in that beautiful handwriting of his ‘Au Revoir’. And Robert had split. I thought that was the coollest thing anyone’s ever done with me. When I saw it, I just thought: ‘Robert’. Nobody else could have done that. Of course we’d settle the bill later. He wouldn’t hit me with a bill.”

Martha and Paul, the painting's on the wall.

In 1993 Paul concluded: “And this big green apple, which I still have now, became the inspiration for the logo. And then we decided to cut it in half for the B-side!”

The Hey Jude single was the first to feature the Apple label
For the B-side, a sliced Apple was used

The name of the painting is actually ‘Le jeu de mourre’ (The Game of Mora). In René Magritte - Catalogue Raisonné (edited by David Sylvester. Menil Foundation/Fonds Mercator, 1993), it is listed as number 1051 and situated late in the artist’s life, in 1966. As Paul still has the original painting only a black and white photograph is available to the public.

That title was given by a friend of Magritte’s, the Belgian poet Louis Scutenaire. It probably is a pun on ‘Les jeunes amours’ (The Young Lovers), another work by Magritte depicting three apples. The Game of Mora is an existing game. In the catalogue mentioned above, the Larousse dictionary definition of Mora, or Mourre is quoted as "a game in which one of the players rapidly displays a hand with some fingers raised, the others folded inwards, while his opponent calls out a number, which, for him to win, has to correspond to the total of the raised fingers".

A colour photo of the painting was published here on the Daily Beatle in March 2014.
Paul must clearly be mistaken about how, or at least when the painting came into his possession, because the painting is already present in a photo from April 1967 taken at Paul's home in Cavendish Avenue.

In Paul’s mind the green apple came to stand for a notion of creative freedom and independence from commercial interests. So, Gene Mahon was commissioned to design the Apple record labels, with this painting as inspiration.

In June 2008 The Beatles Collection website gave a great summary of how this all came about:
“[It was Gene Mahon who] proposed having different labels on each side of the record. One side would feature a full apple that would serve as a pure symbol on its own without any text. All label copy would be printed on the other side’s label, which would be the image of a sliced apple. The white-colored inside surface of the sliced apple provided a good background for printing information.
The idea of having no print on the full apple side was abandoned when EMI advised Apple that the contents of the record should appear on both sides of the disc for copyright and publishing reasons. Although Mahon’s concept was rejected for legal (and perhaps marketing) reasons, his idea of using different images for each side of the record remained. Mahon hired Paul Castell to shoot pictures of green, red and yellow apples, both full and sliced. The proofs were reviewed by the Beatles and Neil Aspinall, with the group selecting a big green Granny Smith apple to serve as the company’s logo. A sliced green apple was picked for B side. Alan Aldridge provided the green script perimeter print for labels [on UK, EU and Australian releases – this does not appear on US labels] and, in all likelihood, the script designation on the custom record sleeve.”

The red Granny Smith apple was used in 1970 for the US issue of the Let It Be album. As that album, for contractual reasons, was being manufactured and distributed in North America by United Artists Records, the red apple may have been used to mark the difference - or there may have been no philosophy behind this decision.

The US Let It Be label featured a red apple

In the seventies, the ex-Beatles felt a little playful with their Apple releases.

George had an orange apple on his All Things Must Pass label

Maybe Ringo should have used the blue apple for his "Beaucoups of Blues" single instead?

Lennon went for white

Perhaps marking the final Apple release, Ringo's "Blast From Your Past" featured a red apple


Foxx said...

Extra Texture by George had an eaten Apple.

Popper said...

Don't forget that both John and Yoko used a (different) white apple with their faces superimposed.