R.I.P. John Grove, Musician and Illustrator Who Designed Exclaim!'s Logo

He created many of Exclaim!'s magazine covers in the '90s, as well as playing in numerous Toronto and Montreal bands

Photo: Alison Fox

BY Alex Hudson and Ian DanzigPublished Aug 24, 2023

John Grove, a musician and illustrator who designed Exclaim!'s early logo as well as many of our '90s magazine covers and countless concert posters, has died. He was 60 years old and will be remembered with a celebration of life concert on September 3 at the Horseshoe Tavern.

Grove died two months ago, on June 17, while living with family in his hometown of Wiarton, ON. He died in his sleep due to heart arrhythmia.

Grove worked extensively with Exclaim! in the '90s. The four symbols that represent Exclaim!'s logo — !*@# — had already been in use since March 1992, but it was John's representation of those symbols in the December 1992 comics supplement, based on a concept by Exclaim! Art Director Geoff Marshall, that established the visual style we use to this day.

Grove's first Exclaim! cover was our first anniversary issue, in April 1993. We profiled him in that same issue, and he went on to illustrate numerous covers and articles. Although he hadn't illustrated for Exclaim! in many years, he continued to draw and play in bands after moving back to Wiarton, often sending drawings to family and friends.

Before collaborating with Exclaim!, he was an established musician in both Montreal and Toronto. He played bass and guitar in numerous bands, including: Huge Groove Experience, Bunchofuckingoofs (BFGs), Nunoyerfuckinbizness (NFB), Bad Punk, Capricorn 100, Lawn Vultures, Was ist Los, More, Living Proof, Animal Stags, Babyslitters, Son of Bronto and more. 

James Bredin (of Punching Nuns) called him a "major talent" who "always [had] a twinkle in his eye," while Greg Cahill (who played with Grove in numerous bands, including BFGs) said, "For 30 years, we had a blast!"

Toronto songwriter John Borra recalled Grove's central role in a Gordon Lightfoot tribute concert at Toronto warehouse space Lump of Squid in the '90s: "Grover was the band leader and a driving force in putting this night together. Just one of a multitude of things he did in the arts/music community."

Other collaborators remember his friendship and musicianship with similar fondness. Ken Stewart, bass player in More, called Grove "small in stature but gargantuan in spirit." He said, "Nobody could play rock 'n' roll like John Grove. With that stinging, searing Les Paul sound, John lit up many a club and delighted many a fan."

Geoff Marshall remembers encouraging Grove to continue pursuing animation, but Grove responded, "I only want to draw one picture." Simon Evers, who works in ad production for Exclaim!, recalled a piece of wisdom Grove said about own his art in 1993: "It's just a bunch of lines."

Exclaim! founder Ian Danzig once pointed out some spelling errors in Grove's magazine covers, including "absolutly" and "aniversary." Grove simply responded, "That's how I spell it," and the magazines were printed with his style intact.

Find the details of Grove's celebration of life on Facebook. It will be a public event at the Horseshoe Tavern, featuring performances from some of the bands he played in. Below, see some examples of Grove's art, as well as Facebook tributes.

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