Ideas, images, personalities, philosophies; David Bowie collected them all.
In that melting pot of influences, the iconic starman broke the mold and created musical history.
Here at Band-Tees, we’ve got the shirts that pay tribute to that history.
Today, we’re going to take a look at:
- Late Santa Monica #72
- Union Jack Pin Up
- Oh! You Pretty Things
- Aladdin Sane
- Future Legend
- The Man Who Fell to Earth
Live Santa Monica ‘72
Santa Monica ‘72—this incredible live album existed only as a rare bootleg for 20 years. Owning a copy was the sign of a true David Bowie devotee.
David Bowie toured as his “Ziggy Stardust” persona but shocked his bandmates, the “Spiders from Mars,” by saying they would split up at the end of the tour.
This officially licensed shirt commemorates that legendary tour and live album. The design features the same lettering as the album itself, which is widely regarded as one of the best live albums ever made.
Union Jack Pin Up
This image of Ziggy Stardust is taken from the photoshoot for the back cover of the album “Pin Ups” in 1973.
Legendary music photographer Mick Rock, “The Man Who Shot the Seventies,” took this photo to capture the “electromagnetism” of David Bowie, who apparently “couldn’t really take a bad shot.”
Mick Rock went on to direct the music videos for “Life on Mars” and “The Jean Genie.”
In this shirt, the part glam, part punk image is overlaid with the union flag to pay homage to the U.K. origins of Glam Rock. This shirt is a statement about the musical innovations David Bowie made and his British roots.
Oh! You Pretty Things
Inspired by images of classic silver screen stars Lauren Bacall and Greta Garbo, on this tee, David Bowie pulls back his long blonde hair to alter his appearance, shedding his previous folk image to transform into something new.
In fact, the designer for the album cover for “Hunky Dory” was George Underwood, the childhood friend who punched David Bowie in the face, causing one of his irises to be permanently dilated. The schoolyard argument was apparently over a girl.
The album’s genesis was David Bowie’s trip to New York where he hung out at Andy Warhol’s Factory, performing mime for those gathered, making connections, and soaking up influences.
“The whole Hunky Dory album reflected my newfound enthusiasm for this new continent that had been opened up to me,” Bowie said in Rolling Stone in 1999. “… It changed my way of writing and the way I look at things.”
Master prog-rock keyboardist Rick Wakeman worked on the album. Even though it was a rock album, David Bowie gave Wakeman freedom to focus it around his keyboard, which is why it has such a unique sound.
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Said to be the most expensive cover art in the world in 1973, this is the most iconic image of David Bowie to have on your shirt.
This shirt puts a stylish twist on the “Aladdin Sane” album cover, mimicking the grey sheen of his skin. The glam lightning bolt makeup is thrown into sharp relief, symbolizing the fractured emotions of David Bowie.
David Bowie’s friend Lou Reed told him stories about the drag queens and artistic scene in New York, which drew him to the US. On his US tour in 1972, splitting his time between gigs, interviews, and writing, David Bowie created his new persona, Aladdin Sane.
David Bowie later said his half-brother Terry being diagnosed with schizophrenia was an influence on the persona.
According to the Uncensored Oral History of Punk, while in New York, David Bowie behaved like a true rock star, picking up friends in limousines paid by his record company just to go to gigs, or going to parties with two Jamaican girls sporting red hairstyles exactly like his own.
The inspiration for this shirt design was the 2018 take over of the Broadway-Lafayette subway station in New York. This shirt is the iconic gift for the true rock star in your life.
This shirt uses the unmistakable logo from the cover art of the album “Diamond Dogs” but in a simple black and white design for a timeless look.
The story of “Diamond Dogs” began while David Bowie was traveling on the Trans-Siberian railway across what was the Soviet Union in 1973. He returned to the UK anxious about the future and started new projects, such as a stage adaptation of the George Orwell novel “1984” and a Ziggy Stardust musical.
The anthemic song “Rebel Rebel” from the album “Diamond Dogs” was originally written for the Ziggy Stardust musical which never was. But all the above influences can be heard throughout the album in the raw and chaotic lyrics.
To create the lyrics, David Bowie used the surreal “ut up technique” of cutting up poetry and re-assembling it into new verses. David Bowie learned this technique from Beat Generation writer and chaos magician, William S. Burroughs.
This instantly recognizable shirt itself is a “cut up”; the glam lightning bolt from the album cover of Aladdin Sane has swung down from David Bowie’s face to underline his name and bring it to life with energy. The black and white redesign shows that this is a timeless, classic symbol for a Bowie fan to wear.
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Capturing Bowie in between filming the 1976 movie “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” the photograph printed on this shirt shows an effortlessly cool rebel.
But there was more to the story.
Although Bowie was reinventing himself as an actor, he nearly wasn’t cast as the lead in The Man Who Fell To Earth.
“Nic’s (Roeg) original idea for the role of the alien, Thomas Jerome Newton, was the author Michael Crichton because he was tall and a little bit unworldly. But… film producers Arlene Sellers and Alex Winitsky were talking to Nic and I about the casting and… it was Alex who said, “‘Have you thought about David Bowie?’” — Variety
Filming was a turbulent time for David Bowie.
“I just threw my real self into that movie as I was at that time… I actually was feeling as alienated as that character was. It was a pretty natural performance… a good exhibition of somebody literally falling apart in front of you.” — David Bowie
This shirt represents the artistic rebel willing to go his own way.
Sits Like a Man but Smiles Like a Reptile
Each of these shirts represents an era in David Bowie’s career and life, but is there another classic David Bowie image you love?
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