The Ugly Metal Shirts of My Past

Brainfart circa 1985 sporting Motley Crue long sleeve '83 Tour Shirt

Brainfart circa 1985 sporting Motley Crue long sleeve ’83 Tour Shirt

The phenomenon known as “the black concert shirt” has truly come a long ways from the days of my youth.  I had so many concert shirts as a kid (most were bought for me or bought at record stores) and I remember thinking some of these shirts were just rad as fuck.  The other thing about these shirts is that back in the day they were really poorly made.  They were usually 50/50 (at best) and this also lead to them being called “johnny one washes.”  What does this mean?  This meant that after one wash the shirt would usually fade to an odd greyish color and then the print would crack and fade.  A lot of times you’d be lucky to get 10 washes out of these things.

Much like I do today, I wore these shirts with pride.  These were my colors.  This was my way of showing the world that I was a fan of these bands.  While my peers were more into wearing the hip fashion of the time such as Beneton shirts, Coca-Cola shirts, and Izod shirts (yeah, I’m totally dating myself here), I was more concerned with scoring a Quiet Riot shirt from the local record store or having my friends older brother buy me a Ratt shirt from the concert that I couldn’t attend because I was 12 years old and broke as fuck.

As a youngin growing up in Metairie, LA (outside of New Orleans), Warehouse Records & Tapes was the place go for all your shirt needs.  They had an entire back wall from floor to ceiling of nothing but shirts.  I would scan the wall, find the shirt I wanted, and tell the long haired dude or big boobed chick with big hair behind the counter which one I wanted and that was that.  They even had a big ass cardboard box at the front of the store where you could find some pretty awesome shit on clearance like a Quiet Riot jersey or a sleeveless Iron Maiden sweat shirt.  Yeah, that’s right, a sleeveless sweatshirt.  It don’t get more metal than that.  Too cold for thin cotton, too hot for sleeves!

Thinking about these shirts made me want to seek out photos of them.  The first thing I was struck by was just how fucking ugly these shirts were.  I thought they were so fucking cool and I can remember wearing them proudly but man, these shirts fucking suck!  Let’s revisit a some of my favorite ones from my past.




Here we go with Exibit A: The Motley Crue handcuffs through the skull shirt.  I had this on a shirt, a button, a sticker, and even a painter’s cap.  Yeah, a painter’s cap.  I really thought this shirt was so bad ass back in the day.  I mean, what’s not to love?  It’s a fucking skull with handcuffs through the eyes.  I look at this now and I just shake my head.  This is proof of just how easy we were to wow back in the day.  Show this shit to a young metal fan today and they’d probably just laugh and be like, “Man, what the fuck is that?”  Too funny but ya know what?  I’d love to have this shirt again just for the sake of nostalgia.



Wow.  I mean, what can really be said about this shirt?  I totally remember having this shirt (one of those bargain box finds) and actually thinking this was cool.  It’s a Ratt (get it?) that looks like Rambo playing a guitar!  I’m still kind of speechless looking at this one.  Actually, it’s shirts like this that totally remind me why all the cool kids made fun of me.  It wasn’t so much that I was wearing metal shirts but it was that I wore metal shirts that looked like THIS!  Oh man….





Ah, the Dee Snider shirt!  You know it’s bad when you get to the point of wearing a shirt with Dee Snider’s face plastered on the front of it.  This shirt didn’t even have the badass Twisted Sister logo on it.  Just Dee Snider’s ugly ass face and the phrase “Play It Loud, Mutha!”  What I remember the most about having this shirt was my mom saying, “What is mutha?”  and me explaining it to her and having her say, “Why would they spell it like that?  It’s spelled m-o-t-h-e-r.  That’s just dumb.”  I also remember my dad looking at this shirt, look at me and saying, “You know that wearing a shirt like this is what will get you picked on.  You’re ok with that right?”  Well, I sure was and even looking back on it now as dumb as it was, that shirt made such a statement.  It expressed my originality and the fact that I had zero fashion sense.



HAHA.  I can’t even look at this shirt without laughing.  This was yet another find in the bargain box at Warehouse Records and Tapes.  This particular shirt just seemed so fucking awesome to me.  An executioner holding Ozzy’s head that he’d just cut off with a giant cross.  I mean, what sucks about this shirt?  Man, looking at it now, everything about this is still awesomely horrible.  Little did I know back then that 30 years later I would wish that this image would become a reality.



I never owned this shirt but when I saw this one, the only way I could describe this shirt was that it looks like Satan took a white t-shirt and wiped his evil, firey ass with it.  It’s like, there is so much fucking evil going on in this shirt that one can barely (if even) make out what the fuck is exactly going on here.  I just know that it’s evil as fuck and hell, I’d wear that now just for fuck’s sake.



So here’s another thing I’ve noticed about shirts from back in the day.  The printing technology just wasn’t there to make these things look really great.  That’s why when you’d get a shirt like this Krokus shirt where they tried to put actual band members on it, the artwork came out all fucked up and looked like bad character drawings from a high school kid.  The colors were all fucked up looking and the details were just hilarious.  I mean look at that picture.  It looks like something some burnout 10th grader would draw on his Chemistry notebook.  Hilariously awesome.



Much like the Krokus shirt, we have the Quiet Riot jersey.  The jersey was a very popular style in the 80’s.  Why? I have no fucking clue.  They’re kinda awkward and lets face it, who plays baseball wearing these shirts anyway?  As you can see above, the colors are again all kinds of fucked up looking and look at the band drawing with the Metal Health mask dude so graciously thrown in for good measure?  This was (surprise) another bargain box find of mine back in the day and I literally wore it until it fell apart.  I remember my mom washing this shirt after having it for like 2 years and her saying to me one day, “Donald, your Quiet Riot shirt didn’t make it.  I’m sorry.”  It was like hearing that a loved one had passed on to the other side.  R.I.P Quiet Riot jersey.  I still miss you.



Now we’re heading into the late 80’s early 90’s and as we can see, the colors got a little better but the actual art still leaves a lot to be desired.  “Rock N’ Roll Forever!”  So “forever” that this cowboy is now a dead skeleton holding a gun and smiling.  You just can’t kill rock n’ roll.  Rock n’ Roll is a dead cowboy that will never die and nobody knows this better than a hard rock glam band from Philadelphia.  Yes, I had this shirt and I thought it was bad to the fucking bone.  It even said “Cinderella Loves the South” on the back! Man, these bands sure do love skulls and skeletons.  Nothing says metal like a skull.  The only thing that could’ve made this shirt any more awesome would’ve been some handcuffs through the eyes.



Ok, now this is a great example of way too many fucking colors.  Well, Poison always was a colorful band with the mouths of sailors.  When I saw this shirt on the 2nd leg of the band’s Open Up and Say Ah tour, I just had to have it.  I was so excited about this shirt.  My parents on the other hand weren’t so enthusiastic.  I was instructed that I was to never wear this shirt out in public.  I couldn’t wear it to school, I couldn’t wear it anywhere so I ended up trading it to a friend for a different Poison shirt that was way less cool.  Looking at this shirt now, I can honestly say that I probably go the better end of that trade.  This shirt just sucks and unlike the other ones, this one is totally NOT cool not even in an awful way.  This shirt just sucks.



Um… words can’t even… um…yeah.  Even back in the day I thought this shirt sucked and if you wore this shirt, you pretty much sucked too.  Even the most diehard Metallica fans wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing this crap.




About Don de Leaumont

Don (aka. The Brainfart) has been a heavy metal fan since hearing it for the first time in 1983. Don is also repsonsible for all of the typos, shitty grammar, and kick ass content on this site. Don likes cheap beer, whiskey, Coca Cola Icees, going to shows, and hanging with his kick ass wife, two cats and dog. He originally wanted to name his dog Shandi but his wife said, "No fucking way."

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