Barclay James Harvest Badges

Barclay James Harvest Badges

Part 1: Official Tour and Promotional Badges

Badges have been a staple of pop and rock merchandising since loon pants were the last word in fashion. The styles have changed over the years, echoing the changing trends in the music itself – in the seventies, when rock dinosaurs ruled the earth, badges were big. Then the upstart punks began to gain the upper hand, and button badges with small, deliberately amateurish-looking designs were cool. The eighties gave us synth pop and mirror badges, whilst the nineties bring us back to where we came in – guitar bands are big again, and so are badges

The badges produced to promote Barclay James Harvest show that even they have not been immune to the vagaries of fashion. Here we take a look at some examples of the merchandisers’ art, from the tasteful to the tacky.

We’'ve been able to track down badges sold on BJH tours from around 1972 onwards, although in the 1990s the items sold at the back of concert halls tended to be limited to T-shirts and sundry items of clothing – the fashion police will cast a jaundiced eye over a selection of these in a later article. The first badges follow the same pattern, being large and circular, with designs taken from details of the appropriate album artwork.

Six early BJH badges

Polydor promotional badge, circa 1975/1976:

Polydor promo badge

Great British Music Festival badge, New Year's Day 1976:

Great British Music Festival badge

In 1978 Polydor GmbH produced these pastel coloured enamelled butterfly brooches with "BJH" at the top for promotional use only, being distributed to company reps and others within the industry only, but a hundred of them were given to Jill Wolstenholme for sale to fan club members:

1978 Polydor promo badge

1979 British Rock Meeting badge for Woolly Wolstenholme's last gigs with BJH, which saw them headlining over the likes of Dire Straits and The Police

1979 British Rock Meeting badge

By the beginning of the eighties, the manufacturers have evidently realised that size isn’t everything, and for the 1980 Eyes Of The Universe tour there were two variants – a small, discreet and very tasteful version, in enamel with a blue butterfly on a silver field and the band’s name in a ring around it, and a larger, standard tin badge with the same design.

1980 BJH tour enamel badge1980 BJH tour standard badge

The 1981 Turn Of The Tide tour offered two badges - a rather delicate cut-out filigree butterfly, or a more conventional round tin badge based on the album artowrk, whilst for the 1982 European Tour fans had the choice of three on which to spend their hard-earned Francs and Marks. One was a 1982-dated version of the round Turn Of The Tide design from the previous tour, the second featured, for the first and last time, a picture of the band members on a round tin badge, whilst the final one was a rectangular blue badge harking back to the perennial favourite “winged woman” artwork.

1981 BJH tour badge
1981 and 1982 BJH tour badges

A rectangular oblong badge was produced in 1982 to promote the release of the Berlin album:

Berlin badge

When Ring Of Changes came out in 1983 without the traditional tour to raise awareness of the release, Polydor spent a lot of money on assorted promotional-only items for radio stations and the press, including this enamel badge cut in the shape of the atom design from the album cover.

Ring Of Changes badge

This badge also formed part of a boxed set sent to journalists to promote the album. On the 1984 and 1987 tours similar enamel badges were on sale, first in the shape of the clown from Victims Of Circumstance, then in 1987 an oblong with just the “BJH” logo from the Face To Face sleeve.

Victims Of Circumstance badge Face To Face badge

There were no badges on sale from the 1990 tour until BJH split up in 1997, but badges reappeared with the emergence of John and Les's new bands. The blue and silver "winged woman" design has the distinction of being the only item of merchandise to be sold at concerts by both Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees and Barclay James Harvest Featuring Les Holroyd, from 1999 onwards, whilst the Revolution Days butterfly design was sold at BJHFLH gigs from 2002.

Barclay James Harvest 'winged woman' badge Revolution Days pin badge
Keith Domone
[Adapted from an article which originally appeared in issues 46 of the fan club magazine, Nova Lepidoptera, in September 1999.]

Part 2: Fan Club Badges

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