||from today's NY Post. The obvious factual errors are amusing.
June 3, 2002 -- By a roll of the 'Dice'
POP artist Ruby Mazur is the first to admit he's no master of the financial universe. But even Ruby was shocked to recently learn that he's done himself out of a potential $100 million royalty payment.
The story starts back in 1971, when Ruby did the cover art for the Rolling Stones "Tumbling Dice" album featuring the famous mouth and tongue logo so resonant of Mick Jagger. (Check the album and you'll see Ruby's signature right there.)
Mazur was paid $10,000 for his artwork, a pretty standard amount at the time. But the logo had a life of its own, and was featured throughout the Stones world tour on T-shirts and mugs and anything else the fans would buy.
The mouth and tongue have gone on, being marketed ever since, so a while back Webster Hall art curator Baird Jones, who knows about these things, suggested to his pal Mazur that he get himself a good intellectual-property lawyer. Jones figures Ruby could claim half of the estimated $200 million his logo has generated in sales.
So Ruby consulted the law firm of Thatcher, Proffitt, which specializes in such matters. They told him he had an open-and-shut case against Mick and the Stones - except for the fact that the statute of limitations had long run out.
I suppose Ruby could appeal to Mick's better nature, but it wouldn't get him far. The wrinkly one is notoriously tight with a quid. He got out of marriage to Bianca for a lousy $2 million, so Mazur shouldn't hold his breath.
||We posted the articles below some months ago, yes, there are some mistakes in fac tas and dates but the fact is:
Ruby Mazur created and then John Pasch took it (to whom Billboard and Mick Jagger attribute the creation) and at the end Andy Warhol made the final design.
Las Vegas artist Ruby Mazur clowns with the Rolling Stones' classic lips-and-tongue logo he created.
Photo by Clint Karlsen.
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
It's only rock 'n' roll
Ruby Mazur wants to be known for more than Rolling Stones logo he created
By JOHN PRZYBYS
Ruby Mazur is talking with a visitor about his career as an album designer, artist and illustrator when the phone rings. It's his manager, calling from New York.
"We're just doing a thing about guess what?" Mazur says, smiling delightedly at the coincidence. "The mouth and tongue."
Then Mazur laughs, raises his voice in mock pained frustration, and yells into the phone, "And I don't want to talk about it anymore!"
Such is life when an artist's résumé includes creating at least one version of what is probably the most recognizable logo in rock 'n' roll: the Rolling Stones' classic lips-and-tongue emblem.
Mazur designed one of the earliest versions of the logo -- maybe the earliest, although that's where things become a bit hazy -- for the Stones' "Tumbling Dice" single in 1972.
Actually, though, the lips-and-tongue logo is only one tiny part of the career Mazur, 55, has forged during the past 35 years, bits and pieces of which can be found on the walls of the Las Vegas apartment Mazur shares with Zeus and Lucy, his very friendly, very large dogs.
There also are photos of Mazur with Billy Joel, Dennis Hopper, Alice Cooper, Whoopi Goldberg, Harrison Ford and other celebrities. There are announcements of past shows. There's a letter congratulating him for an early-career Grammy nomination and a shadowbox-mounted illustration of the Stones logo.
And, of course, there are dozens of his paintings either hanging on the wall or sitting on the floor.
For the Brooklyn-born and Long Island-raised former New Yorker, art has been a passion since the age of 5.
"I was always bored," Mazur recalls. "So my mother would tell my father, `Just give him a pencil and teach him how to draw a glass.' So I had a million glass drawings on my fridge."
By the time high school rolled around, Mazur had "just totally dedicated myself to art."
After high school, and an initial rejection for low grades, Mazur was accepted into art school in Philadelphia. On weekends, he would return home to New York, where his father owned a nightclub. Mazur says he and his brother signed groups to play in the club, and even managed a few bands themselves.
After art school, Mazur's interests in music and art meshed nicely when he learned Paramount Records was searching for an art director. With youthful boldness, Mazur says he bluffed his way into the job.
"I didn't even know the size of an album cover," Mazur says, laughing. "But I went to the printer and I asked a million questions, and by (the next day) I was designing album covers."
Artist Ruby Mazur stands near a painting titled "Swimming Horses" in his Las Vegas apartment. Known for his album-cover art, Mazur spends much of his time now doing commissioned works of people's pets. He is a proud owner of two dogs himself.
Photo by Clint Karlsen.
Mazur's timing turned out to be perfect. By 1971, record album covers had become a form of alternative art unbounded by convention.
As an artist, Mazur says, "you just let your mind go, and the more insane of an idea, the better it was."
"There was freedom of thinking and of expression. And kids back then who went into a record store looked through the racks. You could have an album nobody heard of, but if it looked cool they'd buy it."
After a year at Paramount, Mazur opened his own design studio in New York and eventually opened satellite offices in London and Los Angeles.
Mazur says he designed more than 3,000 album covers during a period of about 10 years for artists ranging from Roy Clark to Joe Walsh and for genres ranging from jazz to pop to soundtracks.
But Mazur's most famous cover came early in his career, when, he says, Mick Jagger himself asked Mazur to design a cover for "Tumbling Dice."
"First, I started thinking about doing a thing with the English flag," Mazur says. "Then I just kept thinking about the music and the whole attitude, the whole sex thing, and those lips (of Jagger's) really jumped out at you.
"Then I started doing a caricature of him, and that didn't work. Then, I just zeroed in on the mouth and tongue and it worked."
However, Mazur's design isn't the one that's most familiar to music fans. Mazur's logo features a stylized lips and tongue, but also includes two eyes as a sort of stylized representation of Jagger's face.
The most commonly seen version of the logo, and the one used the most by the band itself, features only lips and a tongue. And that variance has created confusion through the years about the logo's lineage.
Mazur says he's seen the logo erroneously credited to Andy Warhol. One online source cites Billboard magazine as attributing the original logo to artist John Pasch and its first officially used variation to Mazur.
Mazur disagrees. Pasch, he says, "did a derivative of mine."
Mazur's recollection is that his logo predated Pasch's, and, as far as he knows, his design for the single was the band's first use of the logo.
Still, the father of four says, "honestly, I swear on my children's lives, I don't know who came first. I don't ever remember them giving me a logo with a mouth and tongue, saying, `Do a variation on this.' But, then again, I couldn't swear to it. It was so like in the same minute."
Nonetheless, the logo's tangled history has been a source of alternating bemusement and frustration for Mazur through the years. A few years ago, a New York newspaper story about a Mazur art show noted the artist's association with the logo, but ran the wrong logo with the story.
"I even saw on one of those `Rock & Roll Jeopardy!' things (the question), `Who did the (logo),' " Mazur says. "They said Andy Warhol and that was the wrong answer."
How did Mazur react?
"I threw a beer can at it," he answers, laughing heartily.
On the other hand, Mazur saw another quiz show that gave him credit for the logo.
"Hey, 50-50, I'll take it," he says, smiling.
Mazur's relative equanimity stems from the fact the logo represents only one, and one very early, aspect of his career. In fact, he left the album design business in the early '80s, "as soon as CDs came in," he says. "The fun was over."
Mazur spent a few years doing illustration work for books, magazines, ads, TV and film projects, then decided to work for himself. He worked first in a genre called abstract illusionism, in which surrealistic designs are given depth so as to appear, he says, as if "the paint was floating off the canvas."
Mazur did what he calls his "Squigglies" series, featuring rounded, snakelike forms cavorting on surrealistic backgrounds, and, in 1985, had his first show in New York City.
"(About) 1,500 people showed up and there was major press, and not one piece was sold," he says. "Not one. The next day I was so depressed."
Mazur's brother conducted the post-mortem. He said, Mazur recalls, that "people just don't get what you're trying to do. If you really want to be an artiste, keep making `Squigglies' and don't eat. Or, get off of it and paint something people will buy."
"It was hard to hear, but only your brother could tell you that. That's when I re-evaluated and said, `Know what? It was ahead of its time.' "
A new theme came from a friend who'd just gotten a sales job with a cigar magazine. The friend, Mazur says, suggested Mazur have the model he was painting hold a cigar.
Mazur gave it a shot. And, he says, the painting sold for $25,000 two days later.
So, Mazur says, laughing, "I started my cigar art collection," a whimsical series featuring cigars as elements of iconic images or classic scenes: a smiley face smoking a cigar, the Statue of Liberty smoking a cigar, the woman in "American Gothic" smoking a cigar, even his own Rolling Stones logo smoking a cigar.
About six years ago, Mazur also began painting a series featuring female celebrities -- Calista Flockhart, Claudia Schiffer -- re-imagined as wild animals. Most recently, Mazur has spent much of his time doing commissioned works of people's pets.
"It's a huge hit," says Mazur, "and oddly enough, 9-11 has a lot to do with it. People are retreating back to family, and pets are like kids to people."
The paintings range in price from $5,000 to $10,000 and beyond, and Mazur -- himself a serious dog lover -- clearly enjoys doing them.
"I'm doing it as an art form and not cheapie paintings," he says. "If you look at the paintings I've done, they're really good paintings."
Mazur moved to Las Vegas two years ago with plans to open a gallery featuring artwork created by rock stars, actors, actresses and other celebrity friends. While an initial effort fell through, the gallery is still one of his goals.
"I have 40 celebrities who want to exhibit in my gallery," Mazur says. "Musicians and actors respect me for being an artist. I'm not just a corporation."
While he doesn't currently show his work in valley galleries, his art is available on his Web site (www.rubymazur.com). Soon, he hopes to add a line of original apparel and collectibles featuring his mouth-and-tongue logo.
Still, Mazur admits he's a bit weary of still having to talk about what may be his most well-known work.
"I'm so sick and tired of hearing about it," he says, shaking his head. "It's like 30 years ago. But you know what? I wouldn't have gotten anyplace if I didn't do that."
||Lips-and-tongue designer gets thumbs up
By JOHN PRZYBYS
Bill Schurk knows Ruby Mazur's "Tumbling Dice" record cover well.
For some time -- until it fell and became temporarily lost under a desk -- Schurk used it to frame a bulletin-board photo of a former student/co-worker in Bowling Green State University's music library.
Schurk, sound-recordings archivist at the Ohio university, also is a record collector who's familiar with album art.
And Schurk gives a solid thumbs up to what may be the now-Las Vegas artist's most well-known rock-related image: a Rolling Stones logo featuring lips, a tongue and eyes.
First, the 45's sleeve is die-cut so the label on the record can be seen through the thicker-than-usual paper stock, Schurk says.
"Most picture sleeves of that time would have had the name of the artist and most of them weren't die-cut," Schurk adds.
"The one eye's opened, the other's closed," he says. And, intriguingly, "it's the same design on both sides, and the eyes are on the same side," Schurk says. "So if you look at one side the eye's on the left, and flip it over, that (same eye is) on the right."
Even beyond the image itself, Schurk continues, "it always begs the question: What is happening? Is this person stoned? Is he drunk? Is he half-awake? Is he mentally deficient?"
"It's really cool," Schurk says. "I like images that are weird and strange and dorky. And of course I like the teeth that are all cut out and jagged -- or, excuse me, Jaggered."
Tico Torres, drummer for Bon Jovi and an artist himself, also is a Mazur fan.
"What I like about Ruby is he's been connected with music ... doing album covers and stuff," Torres says.
Mazur's background in illustration "adds to his flair," Torres says. "I think he's an incredible artist. He has many facets to his style, which I appreciate."
||That tongue logo all over the place
When the band formed "Rolling Stones Records" in 1971, their label
design was basic yellow, with a small red, white, and black
"tongue-and-lip design", as the copyright notices now say, on the
left side. The "tongue-and-lip", and countless variations, have
since appeared on all kinds of official (and unofficial) Stones
memorabilia and products. In a 1971 interview in _Rolling Stone_
magazine, Keith Richards claimed that the inspiration was the
Indian goddess Khali, and he went on to say that we could expect
many variations on the theme.
The credit for the original design has been mistakenly given to
several people over the years. The most frequent misattribution
is the claim that it is a creation of Andy Warhol's. Even a
researcher as thorogh as Philip Norman has mistakenly
repeated this legend. Warhol designed two Stones' album covers,
including the first LP released on "Rolling Stones Records", but
he did not supply the tongue. Mr. Norman claims elsewhere
that the earliest inspiration was a set designed by
Kenneth MacMillan for the Royal Ballet's 'Paradise Lost'.
As recently as March 1995, Billboard magazine printed a blurb
which incorrectly hinted that the 1971 design which would go on to
remain imprinted on thousands' of Stones' fans' minds came
from one Ruby Mazur. Billboard finally saw their mistake
and identified Mazur as the designer of the first officially
used variation on the tongue: the Rolling Stones Records
open-hole 7" single sleeve. First used in 1972 and last used
9 years later, the sleeve design has one eye, and uses the
middle record-label open hole as "the mouth" of an ill-defined face.
The design for the sleeve is memorable because the record-label
hole is not perfectly round, as is standard industry practice,
but a contour of the Mazur-designed open mouth.
On April 8, 1995, Billboard definitely attributed the original
classic design to John Pasch. In a 1997 interview done for a
television infomercial pitch selling authorized Stones-related
merchandise, Mick Jagger cited John Pasch.