Brando's Feature: Straight Up Font Identified



Back cover of Badfinger's Straight Up Straight Up Font / Typeface Identified
Most of the Story

Note: I've updated this page. I had originally given my portion of this story, while mentioning that there was more to be offered from Rick Kellogg. He recently sent out his addition of the Passin' Time Newsletter and graciously offered to let me put both portions together to make one semi-complete story.

Part 1 - From Rick Kellogg's Passin' Time Newsletter - August 10, 2002

First - A quick review: As posted on Brando's Badfinger Pages

    "...No one that I have communicated with over the last 5 years on the net has been able to identify the name of this typeface. I recently received an email from a website in Great Britain, that lists and displays hundreds of fonts, wanting to know if I knew the identity of the typeface / font. I asked Mark Perkins, who did the artwork for Matovina's book, if he had any insight and he mentioned that he wasn't able to identify the font and had to "reconstruct" the typeface / font from scratch for the book cover."

    "Because I had only ever seen this font used for Badfinger's "Straight Up" album, I'd always thought that perhaps this typeface was designed specifically for the Badfinger album. If not created just for Badfinger, you'd think fairly certainly that this typeface was designed in the late 1960's or early 1970's. It has a "hip / groovy" kind of look to it. That is why I thought it was odd that here is proof that the typeface actually existed some 60 to 70 years before Badfinger ever had a hit single."

And now the BWR part of the story - but still a work in process...

Way back in November 2001, Brian offered up a challenge of naming the mystery "Straight Up" font. As I am a 'printer' by professional choice, I could not let that challenge go without a good try - it was right up my California Job Case - as it were... I have quite a few typeface listing/collection books at my disposal, both at home and where I work. So painstakingly, I poured over each and every one of them off and on for several months... Nothing! Just like Brian, I found several that were from the same 'family' but just not the correct font.

Daisy Advertisement: Circa 1910 The typeface that I use for the Badfinger Web Ring is one of those similar fonts. It is called "MotterFemD" a True Type font that I obtained from a CorelDRAW™ CD set that I own. It has that nice flowing look to it but the slant is forward facing rather than slanting back like the typeface used for the "Straight Up" artwork. And after first glance, the "MotterFemD" font is really not very close at all if you compare each character, letter by letter...

Frustrated, but not yet willing to give up, I posed the challenge to a friend of mine, Greg Walters who is a collector of all things involving printing and printing history - especially anything to do with the Letterpress process of printing using raised type. Think Johann Gutenberg and movable type and you have a small idea of Greg's interests. He has a basement complete print shop consisting of several antique hand/mechanical printing presses and hundreds of Monotype and old wooden display typefaces all stored in drawers and cabinets containing California job cases. Quite fascinating! Greg's handmade Christmas cards are truly wonderful to behold!

What the heck is a California Job Case?
Link to California Job Case

Greg confidently told me to bring in the samples that I had and would be able to find it quickly, maybe the same day! So I made copies of the back of the "Straight Up" CD, the 'Daisy' ad from Brian and the 'Think I'm Crazy' ad from Paul Nyman and gave them to Greg. Several days later Greg contacted me and said that he was making progress but he could not find the name of the matching typeface yet. But now, he was curious...

Fast forward to mid July 2002: Greg stops by and sets a book down in front of me - huge grin on his face - Yes! Success! We now have a name -- "ZORBA." Ah, but is that the real name of the font? The reason for the skepticism is because many typefaces from the nineteenth century are long ago forgotten: typeface name, the font creator's name and the year that the font was first used. Sometimes all you find is a printed page where the font was used - maybe only that one time! All else is lost. But there are collectors of old typefaces and one such company is:

SOLOTYPE TYPOGRAPHERS
298 Crestmont Drive
Oakland, CA 94619

Crazy Advertisment Circa early 1970's Each October, Solotype Typographers closes it doors for the entire month. Why? Because this is when they travel the world looking for newly discovered 'old' fonts. And find them, they do! Over four-thousand of these fonts that Solotype Typographers has available under its roof are listed in a book titled: "The Solotype Catalog of 4,147 Display Typefaces" ISBN 0-486-27169-2 (paperback). This was this book that Greg Walters owned and finally discovered the name of the Badfinger mystery font.

The Solotype Catalog of 4,147 Display Typefaces
Dover Publications Book #0486271692

It is a really good bet, (but not confirmed) that Gene Mahon and/or Richard DiLello, the designers of the "Straight Up" album jacket, purchased the back cover headline "Badfinger Straight Up" directly from Solotype Typographers and had them set it for them. How that particular typeface was found and chosen is still not clear. Brian and I are still investigating.

Taken from that book and on the same page as the listing for the "Zorba Half Solid" font is this note:

"Rummaging in the basement of an old printshop in San Francisco, we came across a cigar box full of worn type. Paid a whole dollar for it, took it home and sorted it out. Wow! What a find. Turned out to be the font shown below, which we call Glorietta. Its actual name was Columbian, but we already had two other faces by that name, so we changed it. Type hunting can be a dirty time-consuming and back-breaking job, but a type like Glorietta makes it all worth while."

So what does a modern typographer do when he finds a previously unknown typeface? Researches the best they can, then re-names it something suitable and markets the font using the new name. So is the "Zorba" typeface the correct name? We just do not know as of yet. But Brian has uncovered another piece of the puzzle. You can order a book and CD that contains the typeface "Zorba Solid" for your own use. It is the same font used on the Badfinger album!

There will be more of this story to tell. In the meantime, Brian has issued another challenge:

"Once again, thanks to Greg Walters and Rick Kellogg for all their efforts in solving this mystery! Next up, that "No Dice" font!"

This concludes (for the time being) what Rick has written regarding the story of the discovery of the typeface. What follows is what I've written regarding the discovery of a book / cd that contains the font typeface. There may appear to be a little overlap regarding various items, but that is because Rick and I haven't worked out a cohesive collabrative writing style yet, Goffin - King, Lennon - McCartney, Ham - Evans we are not.

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Back cover of Badfinger's Straight Up Part Two - Straight Up Font Identified
In a similar fashion to the release of Rhino Records "Best of Badfinger Volume 2", I have to give you the second part of this story because I don't know the complete first part. This was a tag team effort. I must admit right up front that a gentleman named Greg Walters (a friend of Rick Kellogg's) got the ball rolling on this 30 year-old mystery. Part 1 will most likely appear on Kellogg's website soon (he has further details he is working on regarding this, but gave his blessing to let me use this portion now.) Thanks as usual Rick (and Greg)!

Here it goes: Since Brando's Badfinger Pages has been on the net I've gotten a half dozen or so emails regarding the identity of the font used on the Straight Up album and CD. Mark Perkins, the gentleman who did the artwork for Dan Matovina's book: "Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger" had also tried to find the font but wasn't able to locate it. Perkins then re-created the font for the publication. I've done a few searches at websites that have free fonts for download and purchased several font discs to find the mysterious font. I found fonts that were close, "Downwind" and "Leary", but were not exact matches. As recently as November of 2001 I received an inquirey from an online company in England dealing in fonts and typefaces concerning the fonts identity.

About a month ago, Rick Kellogg (of the Badfinger Webring) contacted me with great news. He has a friend named Greg Walters who discovered an image of a sample of the font. It is pictured below:

Zorba - Time Machine

The font was correct and better than that it had a name on it, "Zorba." Perhaps this was it! The hint we finally needed to crack this case. I did a search on the internet for "Zorba" and found almost 70,000 hits. Undaunted, I began my search....after checking about 30 - 40 sites I became daunted and gave up. Then I tried a search for "Time Machine" and it also turned out to be fruitless. Next, I began to search various free font websites again this time looking specifically for a font named "Zorba" and "Time Machine." Unfortunately, the "Zorba" font I kept finding was a Greek looking type font (that makes sense) that was not the same as the one used on Straight Up. "Time Machine" once again yielded no results. Then, Rick sent a second email containing another sample of the font: It is pictured below:

Zorba -  Half Solid Top

This image turned out to be the case-breaker. I tried a search for "Zorba Half Solid" and found zero results. I then tried "Zorba Solid" on a Google.com search and found three results. And Eureka!!! on the first listing there it was! A book produced by Dover Publications titled 24-Bold Script Display Fonts that featured a CD Rom. The clincher was that on the cover of the book the font is clearly visible. If you look at the book cover you can see that it is shown on the fifth line of the booklet cover. Click on the book cover to view a larger version of the cover.

Link to larger image of Dover Publication

Thus, "Zorba - Solid" appears to be the correct name of the font used for Badfinger's Straight Up album. The book containing the font can purchased from Dover Publications, just click on this link to be taken to a webpage for Dover Publications: 24 Bold Script Display Fonts Book / CD Rom. featuring the "Zorba Solid" used on Badfinger's Straight Up album in 1971.

Thus this 30 year-old mystery regarding the font used for the Straight Up album is solved. Was it actually called "Zorba Solid" in 1971 when it was used for the album? I don't know. Where did Apple actually find the font to use for Badfinger's third album? I don't know. As I mentioned at the very beginning, there is more to this story. Rick Kellogg will put his portion of the puzzle on the net sometime in the near future. Perhaps he will be able to address some of these issues. In the meantime (to take a phrase from Gibbins) relax and know that the at-least-90 year old font still does exist and can be obtained to use for your font / typeface pleasure.

Once again, thanks to Greg Walters and Rick Kellogg for all their efforts in solving this mystery! Next up, that No Dice font!


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