What’s the oldest item in your closet? If you’re like most modern-day street fashion enthusiasts or music lovers, it’s probably a vintage band tee. Band tees have been around for decades, and they’ve become extremely popular in recent years. There are now entire companies devoted to making remakes of vintage-inspired band tees, and celebrities are often spotted wearing them out and about.
But why are band tees so popular? Part of it has to do with the history of the band tee. Band tees first became popular in the 1970s, bands saw fans making their own homemade merch. Shortly after the bands would catch on and sell their own shirts at concerts as a way to make extra money. At first, they were simply white t-shirts with the band’s name and logo printed on the front with the tour dates listed on the back.
As time went on, bands began to get more creative with their designs. They started working with artists to create unique designs that would really stand out. And as the years went by, the designs got more unique and creative.
Nowadays, you can find a vintage tour tee for just about any band you can think of whether its metal, country or hip-hop. And they’re not just popular with teenagers and twenty-somethings, celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid are often spotted wearing them as well.
So without further ado, here are the greatest vintage band tees of all time:
1. Metallica – Kill ‘Em All Vintage Band Tee
This tee is from Metallica’s debut album, “Kill ‘Em All” and it’s one of the most iconic metal t-shirts of all time. It features a hammer smashing something that artistically resembles a human with the band’s name printed above it and “Kill Them All” printed below the graphic. It’s simple but powerful, and it perfectly represents the band’s early sound.
2. Nirvana – Smiley Face Vintage Band Tee
This tee is from Nirvana’s second album, “Nevermind” and it’s one of the most recognizable grunge t-shirts of all time. It features a yellow smiley face with the band’s name printed above it. The smiley face was originally designed by artist Harvey Ball in 1963, but it was Nirvana who made this logo iconic among rock and grunge fans alike. The original smiley face was altered slightly for the t-shirt with x’s for eyes and a squiggly smile with a tongue sticking out.
3. The Rolling Stones – Tongue Vintage Tee
This is not one tee but multiple tees featuring the famous design from the band The Rolling Stones. The tongue logo was first used in 1971 for VIP passes but later caught on and was used as the band’s signature logo. It’s one of the most recognizable logos for a band of all time. The logo was designed by John Pasche in 1970.
4. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon Vintage Tee
This tee is from Pink Floyd’s album, “Dark Side of the Moon” and it’s one of the most iconic psychedelic t-shirts of all time. The design features a triangle and the band’s name printed above it. The prism and rainbow are meant to resemble the band’s light shows. The design was created by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell.
5. Led Zeppelin – Houses Of The Holy Vintage Tee
This tee is from Led Zeppelin’s album, “Houses of the Holy” and it features a graphic of multiple children walking upward giant stones. The design was created by the firm Hipgnosis and was inspired by the book, “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke.
6. Iron Maiden – Eddie Vintage Tees
These t-shirts featuring Eddie, the band’s “mascot” may be the most recognizable pieces of artwork featured on shirts when It comes to heavy metal. Almost every Iron Maiden band tee features some sort of variation Eddie. He’s a zombie-like creature who has also been featured on the cover of almost all of their albums. He was created by artist Derek Riggs.
7. The Ramones – Eagle Vintage Tee
The Ramones’ distinctive logo was created by Arthuro Vega, the band’s creative director. The eagle on the Ramones logo is a depiction of the presidential seal from the United States, which represents the group as an all-American. The eagle clutches a baseball bat, representing one of the musicians’ favorite sports.
8. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction Tee
This tee is from Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, “Appetite for Destruction” and it’s one of the most iconic hard rock t-shirts of all time. It features a cross with all five band members featured on the front reimagined as skulls. Billy White Jr created the artwork.
9. David Bowie – Aladdin Sane Vintage Tee
This tee is from David Bowie’s album, “Aladdin Sane” and it’s one of the most iconic glam rock t-shirts of all time. It features a lightning bolt going through Bowie’s face which was inspired by a make-up test for the album cover. The design was created by British artist, Brian Duffy.
10. AC/DC – Highway To Hell Vintage Band Tee
This tee is from AC/DC’s album, “Highway to Hell” and it’s one of the most iconic hard rock t-shirts of all time. It features a graphic of the band’s logo with the words “Highway to Hell” printed below it. The design was created by Gerard Huerta.
Where Can I Buy One Of These Vintage Grails?
To find one of these vintage tees your best bet is to either start your research on eBay, Etsy, or Grailed. You can find tons of vintage tees on these platforms and even extremely rare ones that you may have not known existed. Don’t be surprised to pay a couple of hundred dollars for these authentic vintage tees as they have become extremely popular and hard to find. To save some money you can also go to your local thrift store and start going through the racks, maybe you will get lucky! (We can dream right?).
Whether you’re a fan of these musicians or just want a cool summer tee to rock. Vintage band tees will always be in style and remain popular among music fans and fashion enthusiasts. These tees are not only popular for their designs but also for the history and nostalgia that comes along with them.