Torn and Frayed Tee Shirts

Many years ago I had a Sex Pistols t-shirt.  I wish I could tell you that I owned this shirt in 1977 and I made it myself but I was three years old at that time so punk rock was lost on me.  I had to wait until 1988 when I was 14 to get a Sex Pistols tee and I got it in the most punk rock way available to me at the time: I bought it at The Sunrise Mall in Massapequa Park, New York.  It’s not as cool as Richard Hell scrawling Please Kill Me on a tee (and he may never have actually done that) but it was the best I could do.  If it helps my punk cred at all I went with my best friend at the time (who already owned the same shirt) and we totally smoked cigarettes and did not obey traffic signals on the way to the mall.

Anyway, I mention the Sex Pistols shirt because it was the first rock band tee shirt I ever owned, the first of probably 100 I’ve had over the last 20 years.  100 band tee shirts years may sound like a lot but for a middle class white guy into rock and roll I’m probably right around the median range of band related tee shirt ownership.  Some guys have none, some guys only have rock tees, between the ages of 17 and 24 I was one of the guys who only had rock tees. In the ten years since stopped feeling the need to constantly advertise my musical tastes I’ve kept a few in rotation at all times but over the years the number has dwindled and as the shirts have worn out I’ve stopped buying new ones to replace them.  In my closet there are maybe ten tattered and torn rock tees and The Clash London Calling tee I’m wearing as I type this is literally hanging by a thread.  Will they be the end of the rock tee line?  Am I officially a grown up now?

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Torn and Frayed Tee Shirts

  1. I only own 2 tees like that. A Ramones tee, that is NOT black. And I too have the London Calling shirt.

    I wear them maybe 2 times every 6 months…so I ask you, who’s the grown up? Sounds like you wear yours way more than I ever did mine.

  2. Don’t give in! Long live the rock tees!

  3. retro_joe

    I feel the same way about my chicken boxer shorts. They will have to be ‘retired” soon.

    My “Branded” tees all involve drinking. Including my “Grababrewski and Chug- Milwaukee” shirt; purchased for me by my Mother while I was living in Ireland. Allowing me to advertise that I am both an alcoholic and from Milwaukee (not in that order). Thanks, Mom.

  4. This post is so apropos of my day. I bought a t-shirt, that is probably too hip to be wearing as I am almost 40 and all… BUT, it has a robot on it, and you are the FIRST person I thought of. It has some of kind of “early manbot”, made out of a tree and some budgies on it. Oh god, I am too old for this. I got sucked in! It was at a craft sale! Help me!

  5. aliastaken

    I can’t be a judge in your “who’s a grown-up?” contest. I purchased a red Elmo t-shirt from Hot Topic just a few years ago which says, “Tickle This”. Hey, I think it’s funny.

  6. You must keep these tee-shirts to pass onto the youngsters when you’re old and trying to prove your street cred.

  7. betheboy

    Bronwyn – I’m not giving up I’ve just no desire to replace the old ones with new tees.

  8. JT

    After a drought of buying rock tees of nearly four years, I just recently purchased a new one…at a live show, no less!

    I had a terrible hangover the next day.

  9. Why grow up? Why stop wearing what you want to wear? The only reason I’ve pretty much stopped buying t-shirts @ concerts is the outrageous price. I’ve been buying coffee mugs or keychains! I did buy an Eddie Izzard shirt when I saw him recently. I HAD to…okay, not related, but he is a rock star of smart comedy.

  10. betheboy

    Jodi- My problem comes not from the fact that I feel I can’t wear them anymore but fro the fact that I have no desire to buy any more of them so when these are unwearable I may be done.

  11. kim

    It’s ok- when you’re old and grey you can tell the “young folk” about this amazing concert t collection that you had “back in the day”. By the time the story circulates a few times the collection will have grown to containing thousands of shirts. You will be a god in their eyes, and will ooze street cred for all eternity.

  12. TheOtherWill

    I still smoke cigarettes and have driven with something not quite right no inspection,no insurance,switched plates for 13 out of the 15 years I’ve been driving.
    Usually only one would apply at any given time,but once in a blue moon all 3 and more.

    But the last 2 years,I’ve been legit

    Was it Sunrise or Buzy Bee?

  13. It seems like rock band tees are all I buy lately. Maybe I’m aging backwards?

  14. Marisa

    just so we know…sunrise mall is now WESTFIELD sunrise. they bought it and are trying to class it up (impossible).

    love,
    your massapequa parkian informant.

  15. Elizabeth

    This post cracked me up. I still have the most expensive rock concert t-shirt I ever bought…it was for VH at Jones Beach and cost me 35 bucks. Don’t wear it anymore but it’s packed away as a reminder that when your 16, a shirt that says “kickin ass in America” is something you want to advertise.

    I still buy them, but will now only buy knock-off shirts for 10 bucks on the LIRR

  16. betheboy

    Elizabeth – $35 is a whole lot of cash for a tee no matter who is on it but I have parted with some cash at Jones Beach Theater before.

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