Is it OK to wear your own band’s t-shirt on stage?

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Is it ok to wear your own band's t-shirt on stageI think Def Leppard’s “Armageddon It” video was the first time I consciously noticed a dude in a band wearing his own group’s t-shirt. As a kid it confused me, and it continues to puzzle me to this day. I mean, I guess it’s one thing if you’re in a touring band and an overly exuberant fan bazooka-barfs on your chest minutes before you hit the stage. Then you’re in a position where you’re just looking for something relatively clean, and digging into your box of merch might be your only option.

But Joe Elliott, Def Leppard’s lead singer, clearly modified that shirt pre-video-shoot. This was all very intentional. Was he worried that the 50,000 Aqua-Netted fans in attendance weren’t sure what insanely popular band with one of the best-selling albums in the history of rock music they paid to see? Or did he not want to ruin one of his good shirts by cutting it into a sweet tank top, which he then proceeded to tuck into his shredded jeans? We may never know for sure.

But we do know this: he’s not the only member of this club. You’ve probably seen singers in local bands pulling the same move. Maybe they think this is the same thing as writing your group’s name on the front of the bass drum, but it’s more effective because it moves around a lot and is at the front of the stage. Or maybe the rest of the band secretly wishes the singer would stop wearing their shirts because it’s goofy-looking and is cutting into their merch sales.

What do you think? Is is tacky to wear your own band’s shirt on stage, or is it a badge of honor for the road-worn musician who was so busy rocking that he lost all the shirts he packed for the tour? Got any favorite pictures of artists wearing their own shirt? Share those, too!

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  • Dave Mustaine, Jimmy Page, Brett Michaels, David Gilmore, Lars Ulrich, Mick Jagger, The Ramones and probably a bunch more I don’t know about. So why not? And who makes up these rules anyway?

  • Umi

    I’ve seen plenty of pro bands come out for the encore wearing band t-shirts and it seems like a great idea for 2 reasons: 1. It reminds the audience that there is merch for sale after the show and 2. gives them an opportunity to put on a clean shirt after stewing in their own juices for 40-60 minutes.

  • Pauly

    I where my bands shirts because those are half the t-shirts I own.

  • Ciro Di Ruocco

    I think it’s cool to wear a shirt I designed/ screen printed. I put consideration into the design and quality of the merch. I stand behind the quality by wearing it. Initially, as manager/designer I thought it was just cool for myself and the drummer to wear our shirts. I challenged Kendall (of Kendall Patrick and the Headless Bettys) she responded with : my name is on the shirt and the person I love made it.. That is cool to me.

    Great topic and thank you!

    If you wear your own shirt.. Or not.
    Take ownership in why that is. Owning your perspective is cool.