By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, king fucking diamond, stupid crap On: Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Odds are if I were to corner Missy Elliott and ask her how old the Motorhead shirt she’s sporting in the photo above, the answer would include variations on the phrases “My stylist picked it out for me,” “I don’t know” and “Motor-whatnow?” before her security detail – inevitably led by a 6’8” 475-lb black dude nicknamed “Tiny” – beat my ass into the middle of next month. Plus, who the fuck cares about the thoughts and opinions of someone whose only understanding of metal is limited to a bunch of carefully and intimately placed body piercings (I’m taking a wild guess here)? You want to know what classic metal shirts/finely aged dishrags the real Warriors of Ice and Soldiers of Steel have in their wardrobes, right? Well, here you go as this week I asked Mudrian’s Merry Band of Decibel-ers to tell me about the oldest band shirt they own.
Upon inspection, it seems I have a tie in the oldest band shirt department. I have a Kix Blow My Fuse shirt and a Megadeth “Mary Jane” shirt, both of which date back to 1988, are borderline threadbare, and currently about two sizes too small for me. I doubt I could squeeze my 34-year-old tits into either of them on a bet. Also, the Kix shirt permanently smells like mildew and has a hole in the left armpit.
I have a limited edition Bad Religion t-shirt from a series of shows they did at CBGBs in 1997. It’s signed and in perfect condition. I don’t wear it much – my body has changed with age – but I felt comfortable wearing it out once a few months ago and some guy yelled at me at a bar, saying “That’s worth something! You can’t wear that!” So like R. Kelly, it’s trapped in the closet.
My oldest metal shirt is a King Diamond Abigail tour shirt from 1987. It’s a hand-me-down from my buddy Steve Childers who saw the tour in ’87. He gave me the shirt when he grew out of it. Unfortunately, as my beer belly expanded, I grew out of it but I held on to it and luckily, from exercising a lot and counting my calories in the past year, I’ve lost 70 pounds and am back to a size small/medium. So, this weekend it’s off to the storage space to dig out all of my old metal shirts and shake the spiders and dust off of them!
I have a brown Graf Orlock t-shirt depicting a dog holding a dismembered hand. Corporate America tends to frown upon my lifestyle choices and, as my colleague Anthony Bartkewicz would say: I pose hard. That said, there’s an original Slayer Reign in Blood tour shirt in a box somewhere in my dad’s house and I’ve spent the better part of 10 years trying to find it. It’s the Holy Grail, really. Who wouldn’t want to stuff their moobs in that?
At first I was going to say the oldest metal t-shirt I own is from Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere on Tour” in 1987, but then I remembered the shirt I got at a Helix concert a year and a half earlier. In the fall of 1985, Helix was huge in Canada. The Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge album and ubiquitous single “Rock You” catapulted the band to mainstream popularity, and while the follow-up Long Way to Heaven was less consistent – though I’ll defend “Deep Cuts the Knife” to my grave – the band was still selling out 2-3000 seat theaters across the country. This tour in particular was a solid one, as the band had brought along Vancouver’s Headpins, one of the country’s finest hard rock acts of the early 1980s, as openers. To this 15 year-old, whose only previous live metal experience was seeing Kick Axe play to a couple dozen kids at the Coronet Motor Inn in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, it was an eye-opener seeing the band run around the garish, multi-leveled stage and singer Brian Vollmer work the crowd like a seasoned master. No, it wasn’t the coolest show by any stretch, but back then we took what we could get, and I wore my black tour shirt – the album cover on the front, a brick wall emblazoned on the back – with great pride. And I still have it to this day packed away somewhere, well-worn but still intact, a full size smaller than what I wear today. I can’t believe there was a time where I actually wore a medium…
I have a Motorhead T-shirt that I bought at this skanky incense/bong/rock gear shop called Lazar’s Bazaar in Eugene, OR, in probably ’83 or ’84. I think I was 15 or 16 at the time. It’s the only surviving shirt from that era. It just has the basic MH logo on a black tee, which is actually gray now and so thin you can practically see through it. It has most recently been commandeered by my wife, since it no longer fits me.
I’ve trashed a whole bunch of band shirts over the years that I would be embarrassed to admit I ever owned. The oldest “band” shirt that I still have is a Beck shirt from 1999. I got it at a Beck concert at LA’s Greek Theatre, right after Midnite Vultures came out. It’s a dark grey deal, with a supine crash-test dummy on the front, and a whole bunch of cartoon figures on the back, each with the same speech bubble: “We are individuals.” The thing is wrinkled beyond the point that ironing would help, and there’s a huge hole in the right armpit. But goddamn, does it bring back pleasant memories of those ironic teen days.
I didn’t used to keep old, unwearable shirts around (and could have made a mint on eBay with some of the rags I threw away), so the oldest one I currently have in my closest is a well-worn Cathedral long-sleeve from 1993. Bought it when I saw them open for Mercyful Fate in Chicago (9/24/93). I keep it around because the front of the shirt is a Dave Patchett painting that Cathedral never used anywhere else, and it’s cool because there’s no logo or wording of any sort on the front, just the artwork. Wore this shirt probably every third day of my life between 1993 and 1996, and retired it when it became too stretched out to be of much use as anything but a house dress. And I don’t do house dresses.
I have a Devo Freedom of Choice shirt I got when I was maybe three sizes smaller. Animals and bugs have eaten holes in it, but it’s my woobie – I WILL NEVER TOSS IT! Saw Devo on Saturday Night Live. Changed my life.
I’m gonna guess my oldest shirt is Discharge. I stole it from my much cooler, much more hardcore brother, who had it for a few years before I, you know, borrowed it. So, by the time I got my hands on it, it was pretty busted up. It’s size XL (I normally wear a youth large), black (duh), and hangs to about my mid thigh. It’s got the song title “Q: And Children? A: And Children” on it, with a photograph of one kid holding another — bleak as hell. Way more disturbing to me than any disemboweled cartoon death metal album cover.
The oldest band shirt I have is a Saxon one. It’s a little unusual as it’s red cloth. It features the first album design – the angry Viking guy on the attack – and the combination of the predominantly blue album art and the red background works surprisingly well. I bought it in 1981 from the band’s fan club which was called the Militia Guard after one of the songs on the first album. They issued a periodical newsletter which had a merch page. You could get all the usual 80s type items: metal badges, silk scarves, studded wristbands with the band logo on and, of course, various shirts. I could have got a Wheels of Steel or Strong Arm of the Law shirt but everyone – well, not quite everyone – had those and I wanted to make the point that I’d been into the band first. Although I still have it I’ve no idea exactly where it is; probably in the loft and probably in great shape unless the moths have gotten to it. I felt like a king wearing that shirt. Great days!
Malicious Onslaught “Thrashed Black” t-shirt (from ’89 – ’90, I think). It’s definitely not my oldest shirt, but it’s probably one of my most worn. Got it in high school from one of the guys in the band and at the time, they were among some of the heaviest bands I’d ever heard. I was honored to own that shirt. It was like the mark of an unofficial Rockland County gang. You could go to the Nanuet Mall and see people with that inverted “Thrashed Black” cross all over the place and if you didn’t know them, you’d kind of give them that metalhead nod of recognition/approval. I’ve always been a big fan of simple, black and white designs. I hate decal-looking shirts that appear sweaty in the sun. This one, to this day, rules, COC-esque skull and all. I work from home and literally rock it at least three days out of the week. It’s so thin you can probably poke holes in it with your thumbs if you tried. It has all kinds of subtle bleach stains and mystery marks, but for being more than 20 years old, it’s really not looking too shabby. I plan on rocking it till the neighbors complain. RIP Malicious Onslaught. Your [well made] shirts and music live on. \m/
And in case you’re wondering about yours truly, because I know you were, I admit I haven’t been immune to liquidating some of my band shirt assets over the years via eBay in a quest to make mortgage payments instead of maintaining a museum of rock tees. However, some goodies survived the cull, like the Welcome to Hell shirt pictured here. The main difference being mine looks like it was purchased in 1983 because it was purchased in 1983. And unlike many of my body-morphing colleagues, it still fits me perfectly.