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Iconic Band TShirt Ideas

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Cathy Sayers

Content Editor

30 August 2020

5 min Read

The legendary bands for many people growing up in the 60’s and 70’s are the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin - just a few examples of bands which back then through to the present generated an army of fans.

Their records, both singles & LP’s as they were known, were popular and as their market reach spread, so the knowledge that fans would buy into, and benefit from other memorabilia.

Their concerts were vastly popular & wherever they went, be it Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid or New York - trade stands began to spring up selling their merchandise. The personalised tshirt became a direct way of someone showing both within the concert arena and outside it, where their musical allegiances lay.

One image of the times is the now iconic Rolling Stones “tongue & lips” design. John Pasche was its creator and was commissioned to do so when he was a 25 year old postgraduate student. He was approached as the band was looking for inspiration after being left frustrated by the bland designs by their label of the time, Decca Records. He was initially commissioned to design their tour poster, and then after that they asked for a letterhead logo for their own record label, a little symbol which would sit at the top of each page before being posted.

The “tongue & lips” was used as an inner bag sleeve covering the vinyl for their album “Sticky Fingers” - Andy Warhole designed the cover. John Pasche dealt exclusively with Mick Jagger who then liaised with the others. Little did he know it would become one of the most recognisable designs of all time. Otherwise he may have charged more than £50!

As the design became so popular, lots of tshirts were unlawfully made & sold in markets so the band saw an opportunity to get in on the act.

The rest they say is history for the design - recent research revealed it to be the most iconic & recognisable t-shirt design, ahead of even the Nike swoosh & Adidas’s three stripes. John Pasche set up his own advertising agency and also drew designs for The Who, The Stranglers & Sir Paul McCartney. In fact his design showing a “tongue, lips”,not forgetting the mouth, wasn’t based on Mick Jagger’s mouth, but Mick did show John a magazine cutting of Kali, an Indian goddess with a very pointed tongue sticking out. When John saw that it sparked the big idea - a sticky outy tongue is sometimes what kids do and it’s a way of being anti authority & rebellious - which suited the band’s image.

Designing your own band tshirt can have huge consequences. A picture of Elvis on a black tshirt against white Corinthian columns shows his stature straight away, the simple design of “Blondie” in pink lettering against her image with a white outline set against a black tee. Simple but effective. The Ramones, David Bowie through to Guns N’Roses. They have all had huge success through personal design tshirt sales. .

Of course many bands never get well known and never have the reach of huge world band influencers. Take “The Wanglers” a Cumbrian based band back in the 80’s who sang surfin based songs. They cut a disc, made a video in a graveyard & designed personalised tshirts with a phantom or ghost on the front - white against black with the band name across the garment - just like the big guys, but they never made the millions or in fact any money at all!

author thumbnail

Cathy Sayers

Content Editor

As a former ITV Features Editor Cathy is used to coming up with ideas on all manner of subjects and making them viewer friendly! She divides her time between all things TShirt Studio and making films for production company visiononcomms.com

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