Arturo Vega—the graphic artist who designed the Ramones' famed "Hey Ho Let's Go" seal, and was often referred to as "the fifth Ramone"—died Saturday at the age of 65. Rolling Stone reported that Vega's friend, Please Kill Me author Legs McNeil, was the first to break the news. The official cause of death has yet to be released.
Vega grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, moving to the United States in the 1970s and taking up residency in a Bowery loft near CBGB. It was there he befriended the Ramones, quickly becoming one of its earliest and most fervent supporters—including letting Joey and Dee crash with him while using his apartment as a rehearsal space. Vega's more official roles within the band were as lighting director, archivist, historian, and (as McNeil called him) all-around "pal," but his most lasting contribution was as their artistic director, beginning with the creation of that classic logo. T-shirts emblazoned with Vega's Ramones seal helped keep the band afloat with merchandise sales during their early lean years, and it continues to be one of the most recognizable (and copied) band logos in rock 'n' roll history, still turning up in music shops and mass-market department stores alike all over the world.
As Spin reminds, Vega once discussed the creation of the logo with author Jim Bessman for his book, The Ramones: An American Band, saying, "I thought the Great Seal of the President of the United States would be perfect for the Ramones, with the eagle holding arrows—to symbolize strength and the aggression that would be used against whoever dares to attack us—and an olive branch, offered to those who want to be friendly. But we decided to change it a little bit. Instead of the olive branch, we had an apple tree branch, since the Ramones were American as apple pie. And since Johnny was such a baseball fanatic, we had the eagle hold a baseball bat instead of the arrows."
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