Half the fun of going to a concert is buying a t-shirt as a souvenir of the show you saw. It doesn't matter if the band is rock, country, jazz, or blues, you can be sure that there is a booth set up somewhere in the arena selling shirts. It has become a lucrative business in the music industry and contributes to quite a bit of the bands promotional income. Band t-shirts ? also known as concert t-shirts ? was a trend that got started in the 1960s.
Most of these shirts were tie-dyed, reflecting the hippy times of the Vietnam era. By the 1970s, the t-shirt had gone from hippy to black. These t-shirts were used as promotional tools and had the bands logo screen printed on them.
The bands would either give them away or sell them to their fans. It was also very common to see the bands tour itinerary printed on the back with the year of the concert. Band t-shirts became a style statement of the 1980s.
Not only did the bands promote themselves and the dates of the tours, some of them also promoted their political views. Some of the most memorable t-shirts that boasted a political statement were The Smiths 'Meat is Murder' t-shirt and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's, 'Relax'. The 1990s saw the addition of Hip Hop t-shirts to the scene, promoting rap groups with the bright colours and splashy art.
Of course, rock band t-shirts have also been the source of controversy over the years. In 2001, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of an Ohio school that banned their students from wearing t-shirts of shock rocker Marilyn Manson. They found the shirt highly controversial and insulting.
Other bands have had t-shirts kept from schools as well for some of the graphic material that is displayed on them. Today, most schools will not allow students to wear anything that promotes drinking, drugs, smoking, killing, or religious beliefs. Not every band t-shirt is one that is purchased at a concert. Some people make their own band t-shirts, something that is even easier in today's world of computers and iron-on transfers. It was quite common to see hand screen printed rock t-shirts as well as many students in graphic arts programs used to learn this method of printing and honoured their favourite bands at the same time.
You can still find t-shirts for bands that are no longer performing together ? like the Grateful Dead and the Beatles ? in store like Hot Topic and Spencer Gifts. As newer generations are exposed to their music, they too want to express their support. You can find band t-shirts at many speciality stores, but being able to buy one at a concert holds a special place in everyone's hearts. Those t-shirts will be the ones that are worn the most and probably fall apart first, or stay pristine in the dresser, a constant reminder of that day. Band t-shirts are a trend that is not going to go away.
Jeremy Miller is author of this article on Punk Rock T-Shirts!. Find more information about band t shirtshere.