Easter is done and summer is fast approaching so we’re delighted to announce we’ve just got the licence to reproduce some ace vintage Tom Medley artworks on a new line of Worn Free tees, starting with this Tom Medley Stroker McGurk Go-Kart T-Shirt.
Stroker McGurk is the Go-Karting character that Medley created for Hot Rod magazine. The happy and slightly mischievous hot-rodder first appeared in the third edition of Hot Rod back in 1948. Medley went on to stay with the same publishing company for 37 years, creating a wealth of characters and cartoon strips – but McGurk was an enduring favourite with both Medley and his fans. In fact some people say Stroker McGurk is Tom Medley. Talking about his creation in the Best of Hot Rod book published in 1981, keen hot-rodder Medley described his inspiration:
“The idea was to create a character who would become the reader's friend, one they could relate to through his trials and tribulations of just being a hot-rodder.”
Tom’s son Gary Medley suggests that many of his father’s eccentric scribbles went on to inspire a number of real-life innovations:
“Stroker's - or Medley's - inspired genius came up with a host of crazy ideas that appeared impractical at first, but were later adopted by everyday car builders and racers. Multi-engine dragsters, wheelie bars, and drag chutes all sprung from Stroker's fertile mind before they were embraced in the real world.”
And it wasn’t just the hot rodders that liked Stroker! The original vintage Go-Kart t-shirt design was frequently worn by Ron Asheton and Iggy Pop from the Stooges. According to the Stooges fan forum it was Ron’s shirt and Iggy borrowed it! Let’s hope the sweaty self-harmer washed it before he gave it back! Ron really loved that shirt – or maybe he had more than one? He was snapped wearing it at the recording of both ‘The Stooges’ (1969) and ‘Funhouse’ (1970) albums (he’s also wearing it on the inside cover of the Funhouse gatefold LP). According to one source was still pictured wearing it after the Stooges split and he formed American protopunk rockers, The New Order in 1974.
Like wearing the same t-shirt everyday? Order yours now in our online store! And don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter if you’d like to know when the rest of our Tom Medley range of tees become available in store. Fun on wheels - for everyone!
Easter is almost upon us so I’ve had a quick rummage through the Worn Free collection to find a suitable shirt and found this lush vintage Johnny Ramone Hollywood Rabbit t-shirt. Emblazoned with a rudimentary chalk drawing of a running rabbit alongside the slogan “The Rabbit is Running at Hollywood Dog Track!” This t-shirt design dates from around 1976 when the Ramones were recording their debut album ‘Ramones’ in NYC.
Now considered one of the most influential albums of all time, the fourteen track LP cost just $6,400 to make and was recorded in one week. This was partially down to budget constraints but also due to the speed and simplicity of the tracks. The Ramones felt that this was pretty much all the time they needed to bring their raw live sound to the masses. The instruments took 3 days to record and the vocals were laid down in 4. As Joey Ramone explains, this was pretty much unheard of – in fact it still is today. Those recording sessions must have been quicker than the greyhounds at the Hollywood Dog Track:
"Doing an album in a week and bringing it in for $6,400 was unheard of, especially since it was an album that really changed the world. It kicked off punk rock and started the whole thing—as well as us."
Released on April 23rd 1976, the album received mixed reviews initially and only sold around 6,000 copies in its first year of release. Now, however it is heralded as one the ‘100 greatest albums ever’ and the band are considered to be hugely influential on countless bands and genres – as well as kicking off punk rock as we know it.
But back to the bunny – why was a guy from the East Coast wearing a West Coast tee? Well, the Hollywood Dog Track is actually in Florida. It opened in 1934 and is still going strong today (although it is now called the Mardi Gras Casino). And the rabbit is still running round the track. The Ramones didn’t play Florida til 1978 so we don’t know where Johnny got his Hollywood Rabbit t-shirt shirt from – but we know where you can get yours – in our online store! Available in a range of colours to suit your mood go check em out!
This week marks the 23rd anniversary of the passing of grunge legend Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. Kurt is believed to have passed on April 5th 1994 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, at his home in Seattle. He was found a few days later on April 8th by an electrician who had come to do some work on his home. Rather than dwell on these sad events, we’re looking back to some of Kurt’s happier times, before he spiralled into heroin addiction – and one of his many moments of comedic defiance – when he wore the ‘Corporate Magazines Still Suck’ t-shirt to a Rolling Stone magazine cover shoot.
The original plan for the 1992 cover story was for the band to wear matching Brooks Brothers suits - to illustrate their new found fame and credibility - following the success of their second album, Nevermind in 1991. Kurt however, had other ideas - as photographer Mark Seliger explains:
“Kurt was very resistant - he didn't want to be publicised. He didn't want anything but to be true to his fans and to the music.”
Kurt did not relish the idea of fame or celebrity - and he didn’t like the idea of being told what to wear so he turned up to the shoot in a home made t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Corporate Magazines Still Suck.”
In homage to Kurt we have our own popular Worn Free Corporate Magazines Still Suck tee – available in three colours – original white like Kurt’s, grey or black. Don’t dwell on the dark times that followed. Take a moment with us today to remember Kurt at his best.
This month we’re taking a rifle through some of our best-loved Pink Floyd t-shirts in honour of the fact that it is exactly 44 years since the band released their record-breaking classic album, Dark Side of the Moon. We’ve picked out this Nick Mason Lucky Shifts tee because Nick had a very Lucky Shift of his own recently when he crashed his supercar into a wall. Nick was lucky to escape the crash - but unfortunately the same can’ t be said for his ultra-rare multi-million dollar McClaren Formula One GTR supercar which sustained some serious damage.
Self-confessed car-nut Nick was driving the car on a parade lap of the circuit at a Goodwood Members car meet up in West Sussex, UK when he lost control and crashed into a wall of tyres. Thankfully Nick got out and walked away unscathed but the damage to the car is reported to be rather serious, as Motor Authority reports:
“Those unfamiliar with the McLaren F1 GTR should know that some serious damage has been done to a seriously rare car. Only about 100 F1s were ever built, and of those, only 28 were F1 GTRs, which were race versions of the street car built from 1995 to 1997. These cars all used carbon fibre monocoque chassis and BMW-sourced V-12 engines that put out 600 or more horsepower.”
Motor Authority speculate that experienced driver Nick crashed because his tyres hadn’t warmed up properly. He owns a large collection of rare cars which he drives regularly, asserting that they should be driven and driven hard – not kept as museum pieces. So although he is probably upset at what happened, the good news is that it is repairable and he was having a lot of fun at the time.
Nick’s passion for motor racing has grown steadily in the intervening years as Pink Floyd’s sporadic touring and recording schedule diminished, giving him more time to devote to his hobby. You can have a nose around Nick’s garage and see the GTR - which he apparently acquired in a swap for an Indy Car – in this video clip. He also owns Laurel and Hardy’s Model T Ford!
Having played on one of the best selling albums of all time, we like to see Nick has been spending his earnings in a proper rock star way. We’re going to resist the urge to make a joke about ‘The Wall’ or how much “Money’ it’s going to cost to repair and focus on his ‘Lucky Shift.’ If you wear our Worn Free Nick Mason Lucky Shifts t-shirt maybe you’ll be this lucky too?
This week we’re continuing with our look at the story behind some of our best-loved Pink Floyd Tees as we pay tribute to the band’s seminal Dark Side of the Moon album, 44 years after it’s original release in March 1973.
Last week we looked at Dave Gilmour’s Cosmos t-shirt and the events surrounding the concert at Milwaukee Stadium when Dave wore the shirt during their Animals Tour of 1977. It was a warm, balmy night and the most memorable thing that happened that evening was when the band’s trademark giant inflatable pig exploded around an hour into the set, showering the audience in debris as the band played on. This week we’re travelling a little further back in time with our Pink Floyd Spectrum t-shirt, to the Dark Side of the Moon tour - and what turned out to be a very eventful night at Milwaukee Stadium on June 22nd 1975, as Nigel Taylor who worked on the staging and set design, explains:
"When we played in Milwaukee County Stadium, it poured with rain and the band had to do most of the second set with a tarpaulin just above their heads, which was supported by a few of us standing around them on the stage with eight-foot scaffold poles. It was hilarious but very dangerous, with two inches of water at our feet. But 'Echoes' was fantastic, because the crowd were all soaked, but suddenly they could see the band properly, and because the stage was so wet, the dry ice looked better than ever. It was just a marvellous finale!"
According to one eyewitness account, this wasn’t the only magical thing about that night. It was cloudy and raining on and off all evening, which added to the camaraderie of the crowd as they toughed it out with waterproofs and umbrellas. It was so cloudy you couldn’t see the sunset or the moon coming out, but just as "Brain Damage" was playing and the band sang "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon", the clouds parted and the moon appeared right over the stage in front of the astonished crowd who cheered appreciatively!
It was one of those incredible moments that cannot be designed or replicated - where you just ‘had to be there - and if you couldn’t be there why not recreate the evening in the comfort of your own home, without the rain. You can find the whole setlist, which includes DSOTM in it’s entirety, on setlist fm. The design of our Pink Floyd Spectrum tee comes straight from the iconic gatefold album cover of Dark Side of the Moon, featuring a beam of light passing through a prism to transform into a spectrum of rainbow colours, making it the perfect accompaniment to any nostalgia session. So put it on, dim the lights and take a moment to lay back and immerse yourself in this timeless, classic album.
It is exactly 44 years since Pink Floyd released their Dark Side of the Moon album in the US, on 10th March, 1973 and to honour this momentous occasion we’ve decided to make this month Pink Floyd Month here on the Worn Free blog. We’re going to be taking a closer look at some poignant moments in the band’s history and telling the stories behind some of the Pink Floyd t-shirts in our range, starting with this Pink Floyd David Gilmour Cosmos Tee.
Why is Dark Side of the Moon considered such an important album?
An immediate commercial and critical success, DSOTM was the band’s eighth studio album, recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. Following it’s release, the album remained on the Billboard chart for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988, with an estimated 45 million copies sold, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.
In the Flesh - Milwaukee County Stadium
Fast forward three years. It is June 15th 1977 and Dave Gilmour is performing hits from the Floyd’s latest album release, ‘Animals’ as part of the second leg of the band’s ‘Pink Floyd - In the Flesh’ tour at Milwaukee County Stadium in Wisconsin. On this balmy summers evening he decided to don this rather fetching Cosmos t-shirt. But who are the Cosmos and why was Dave wearing the tee?
Meet the Cosmos
The New York Cosmos (known simply as the Cosmos in 77-78) were a professional team in the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Cosmos were undoubtedly the strongest team in the league with some incredibly famous international stars giving them the competitive edge - including Brazilian forward Pelé and Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia. Pelé and the other international signings really drew the crowds and gave the Cosmos their reputation as the most glamorous team in world football at that time. Their success contributed to the development of soccer across the US. Unfortunately when Pele decided to retire the team went downhill – and so did the league - which folded in 1985. Happily though, the New York Cosmos have recently reformed and since 2013 have been playing in the newly founded second-tier NASL.
A Fickle Fellow
So, why was Dave wearing this shirt and not one supporting an English team? Well, apart from the decidedly funky design, Dave explains that he has fickle tastes when it comes to ‘the beautiful game’ and just follows whoever is up in the league, as Cosmos clearly were at the time:
“I did have season tickets at the [English team] Arsenal for quite a few years. That was around the time they won the double. I'm sort of a really fickle football fan. I watch any team that's doing well and become unfaithful when they're not. But I do have a soft spot for Arsenal.”
So it transpires that the Cosmos shirt was an ideal - and topical – choice of attire for that sultry summers eve. Dave was looking and feeling cool. According to onlookers he even remained unruffled when one of the band’s trademark giant inflatable pigs exploded and caused a small fire onstage.
You can hear the pig explode (and the crowd screaming!) on this fuzzy YouTube bootleg sound recording of the concert at 50:30. Then, like Spinal Tap, the band keep on playing!. A few weeks later on the closing night of the tour in July, things weren’t so calm. The crowd refused to let the band leave the stage and became so rowdy that it prompted Roger Waters to examine the bands changing relationship with their audience. These initial musings inspired the ‘Wall’ project, which subsequently became the band’s next album.
Today’s t-shirt is the last in our series looking at some of the best love-inspired t-shirts from our collection - in honour of Valentine’s Day and month of love. This week we’ve tripped into the gutter – as we take the literary leap from Cocker to Cock. Listen it’s not just love that makes the world go round and we’ve been waiting twelve years for a chance to flog this t-shirt! We missed the chance to write about this on Chinese New Year so excuse our tenuous link this month as we present to you the Worn Free Joey Ramone Year of the Cock t-shirt.
Of course this t-shirt isn’t just about punk rock cock shocks, it’s also celebrating the Chinese year of the Cock, or Rooster, which comes round but once every twelve years - so based on our calculations we reckon this photo was probably taken in 1981, as Joey himself was born in 1951 (the year of the Rabbit) and the band didn’t play their first gig until 1974 (Year of the Tiger – Rawwwwr!).
Famous for their epically short, punk rock songs played at breakneck speed, the Ramones formed in Queens, New York as an antidote to the bloated, hippie stoner rock of that era. Originally Joey was going to be the drummer in the band but as the songs became increasingly frantic, he found that he could not keep up. He switched to lead vocals instead, developing a distinctive monotone tenor style and the rest is punk-rock history! At 6’ 5” Joey’s stillness and deadpan stage presence gave the songs an air of decorum, which made him stand out from his contemporaries, as their manager at the time, Danny Fields, explains:
"He was a perfect instrument of those songs and that speed and that energy. He never screamed, never waved his arms round. He stood in one place and delivered. It was so tasteful."
And it wasn’t just the songs that stood out, Joey always looked immaculate compared to other punk rockers of the time, having been diagnosed with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from an early age. When he was a child, doctors told his mother that his condition was so severe, he would not be able to function in a normal society. His brother Mickey Leigh recalls the tribulations of living in close proximity to Joey:
“It was very difficult to grow up sharing a room with someone turning lights on and off, running the water in the bathroom for hours and hours, unable to throw things away.”
Along with his unusual height the condition made Joey a target for bullies at school and after dabbling in the creative arts, music soon became his escape, before he made it his full time career.
The Ramones split in 1996 and within 8 years three of their original members had died, with Joey passing on April 4th 2001 following a long battle with lymphoma. According to his friend and former neighbour Edward Rogers, despite the punk rock image, Joey was a caring and sensitive guy until the end:
“He was notoriously late so you’d often see the rest of the band waiting in the car outside for Joey to come down. Then when he got cancer he spent a lot of time in the building because he wasn’t touring any more. He knew all the elderly ladies in the lobby by name and would spend time with all of them. He’d always stop in the street to talk to people, and at Christmas would bring us presents. He was such a gentle soul. If he was still alive he would be amazed at the effect of the Ramones’ legacy.”
We think this Joey Ramone Year of the Cock t-shirt has something everyone – whether you like the Ramones, you were born in 1969, 1981, 1993, you like chickens or maybe you just like to wear something current? Grab one now or you’ll have to wait twelve years for this t-shirt to come around again!
Welcome back to our pick of the best love-themed tees from the Worn Free collection, in honour of February being the month of love with Valentines and pancakes and all that. This week we’re looking at the story behind this amazing Worn Free Joe Cocker Atlanta is for Lovers t-shirt, as worn by Joe on tour in the 1970s.
As far as we can tell Joe only played Atlanta twice in the 70s – once in 1972 and again in 1974, both times at the Municipal Auditorium. We know he wasn’t wearing the t-shirt in 1974 as he was wearing a sassy little crochet number – follow this link to take a look – warning these images may make you eyes bleed!
The other time was on March 21st 1972 – when he shared a bill with Emerson Lake and Palmer and Humble Pie – who we wrote about at the beginning of the month . Maybe Joe saw Steve Marriott’s heart tee and wanted something similar – or vice versa.
Originally from Sheffield, England; Joe rose to fame in the middle of the swinging sixties with his amazing gritty soul voice. He gave memorable performances at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival before carving out a niche during the seventies with his mix of accessible bluesy soul. His musical career spanned fifty years until he passed away in 2014, aged 70.
Check out this vid of Joe’s live performance of the Beatle’s ‘A Little Help From my Friends’ at Woodstock to see why he had no problem ‘cracking America’ as the Brits call it. Joe’s version received an enthusiastic public endorsement from the fab four themselves and went on to be known as his unofficial theme tune (and the Wonder Years TV show theme tune, of course).
In 1973 John Belushi began performing a parody of Joe’s act on Saturday Night Live - a sure sign that he had made it big in the US. Belushi’s performance was spot-on and Joe himself admitted that he initially thought Belushi was lip-syncing when he first saw a clip of it on TV. In 1976 Joe joined him on stage for a shared performance of ‘Feeling Alright’, which descended into a surreal parody feedback-loop (see clip below). Apparently Paul McCartney liked Belushi’s impression so much he asked him to perform it at his birthday party.
Along with his gravelly, rasping tone, Belushi also picked up on Joe’s trademark twitchy moves. At the time it was suggested that these were a result of alcohol or substance abuse. But according to Joe, he didn’t even realise he was busting the moves until many years later, when he checked out some old clips on YouTube:
“I actually saw myself with Eric Clapton — you know, you see all your old stuff on YouTube now — and I was horrified at myself, with my arms just flailing around. I guess that came with my frustration at never having played piano or guitar… it’s just a way of trying to get feeling out — I get excited and it all comes through my body.”
We’ll leave you with another fine clip from 1971 – sadly no twitching in this one, just a still of our favourite t-shirt. The perfect fit for the month of love – whether you’re in Atlanta or Sheffield, or somewhere in between. One for all the lovers out there.
Continuing with a look at some of our favourite love-inspired tees this month - and what better way to commemorate Valentines Day than by taking a look at the story behind this epic Worn Free Marvin Gaye Let’s Get it On T-Shirt.
Art from Inner Turmoil
In the run up to Valentines we’ve been taking a closer look at Marvin’s life and untimely demise at the hands of his father and we have to say it hasn’t been particularly lovely at all. From the death of his wonderful singing partner Tammi Terrell in 1970 to his challenging twelve-year marriage to Tamla Motown boss Berry Gordy’s sister, Anna - Gaye seems to have been plagued with misfortune and troubled with darkness. So today, on the day of love, lets take some time to focus on the positives with a closer look at this incredible, influential song – the blueprint for all slow jams to come:
Let’s get it on
The title track from Marvin’s thirteenth studio album, released in the summer of 1973 - Let’s Get It On is regarded by many as a landmark recording in soul. Stop for a minute and have another listen to this classic tune as you read. Compared to the overtly sexual songs we are bombarded with in modern times, Let’s Get It On presents its message compassionately, in a gentle and charismatic way. From the instrumentation and arrangement of the vocals to the sheer poetry of those words. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with a little bump and grind, according to some it has a much deeper meaning than a simple request for gratification.
The story behind the song
After revelling in the success of his ambitious, socially conscious album, ‘What’s Going On’ Marvin soon realised this was going to be a very tough act to follow. He had renegotiated his contract with Motown, providing him with more creative control to take any direction he now chose with his music - but perhaps this was too much freedom - as he struggled fruitlessly to decide which way to turn. Also around this time he had briefly separated from his wife Anna and was considering relocating to LA. Dealing with this raft of issues prompted him to seek solace in spirituality, which in turn inspired him to start creating again. Despite the popular interpretation of this song as a sexual theme tune, according to his biographer, David Ritz, Marvin had intended Let’s Get It On to be much more than that.
In his book, Divided Soul, The Life of Marvin Gaye, Ritz suggests that theme of love and romance in the song is a metaphor for God’s love, as Marvin attempted to reconcile his inner-conflict:
“If the most profound soul songs are prayers in secular dress, Marvin's prayer is to reconcile the ecstasy of his early religious epiphany with a sexual epiphany. The hope for such a reconciliation, the search for sexual healing, is what drives his art”
Speaking about the track, smooth talker Q-Tip describes how the implied sexual implicitness of the track paved the way for other sexually-themed tunes to follow:
“Although there was a 'conscious' revolution, there was also a great sexual revolution ... Let's Get It On was Marvin wanting to make commentary on what was happening.…capturing erotica like that, and weaving it into the music the way he did; it was mind blowing. I think it was a natural progression, because we were having a revolution with our minds, and then with our bodies at that time.”
Despite everything that was going on in his life, Marvin was able to take his troubles and spin them into greatness – the beauty of the piece comes from his inner conflict –and his acknowledgement of the sexual awakening happening around him in society.
Whatever you’re doing this Valentine’s day – we hope it’s more about love and spirituality than turmoil and darkness. And now you know the story behind the song, when you walk into a bar wearing our Worn Free Let’s Get It On T-shirt, people will realise you’re not just seeking gratification – you’ve got hidden depths…as well as desires.
February can be a bit cold and sad. A short, dark month in between fun times, when nothing much seems to happen. But underneath the ground, shoots are stirring, the sap is rising and to celebrate this reawakening, slap bang in the middle of the month its St Valentines Day. Traditionally a time to treat your loved one - or if you don’t have a loved one - go on, treat yourself! You deserve it!
This month, with romance on our minds, we’re going to be taking a look at the story behind a few of the iconic images that inspired some of our best 'love' themed t-shirts, starting off with recent birthday boy, Steve Marriott.
Best known for his work with ground breaking psychedelic mods, the Small Faces, Steve went on to form Humble Pie in 1969 after quitting the band. Regarded as one of the first 60’s super groups, the original Humble line-up also included Pete Frampton from the Herd and Greg Ridley from Spooky Tooth, along with seventeen-year-old newcomer Jerry Shirley on drums.
Steve found that playing with Humble Pie gave him the chance to explore new styles of music and shake off the pop star label that he had hated so much during his time with the Small Faces. He came up with the name Humble Pie after getting together with the other band members to brainstorm ideas, as Jerry Shirley explains:
“Humble Pie was one of Steve's suggestions. One of mine was ‘Evil Cardboard’ which was the end of a joint. Anyway ‘Evil Cardboard’ did not get the vote. We all thought Humble Pie was just perfect. It was a reaction against the whole super group thing. The idea of being called a super group without even playing was quite disturbing. We were just saying, ‘Now wait a minute we’re only a bunch of lads just starting and want time to develop’ ”.
Back to the gig – how do we know it was an epic performance? Because we’ve seen it! The whole show was filmed for ABC TV and we’ve found quite a bit of it online. If you want to listen to the soundtrack for this Steve Marriott t-shirt – and get some tips on how to accessorise - then check out this clip to see why twenty six years after his untimely death, Steve is still regarded as a total legend. There are also some pretty cool vintage tees in the audience too!
We don’t know what inspired Steve to wear the heart t-shirt that evening. His love life was turbulent and colourful, with three marriages and four known children. A perfectionist, he found that the pressures of fame and drugs took their toll. Like many rock n roll heroes, Steve died too young. He perished in a fire at his home - believed to have been started by a cigarette. Speaking about his death, Jerry said that Steve had lived on the edge and that he always expected a phone call to say that he had died but never dreamed that it would be under those circumstances.
Despite this sad ending, of course Steve lives on – through his influential contribution to music and in the hearts of his fans. A few days ago on the 30th of Jan it would have been Steve’s 70th birthday – and nine days earlier on 21st of January this year, Steve’s daughter Tonya gave birth to a son, Toby – a quirky Aquarian just like his granddad. Toby shares his first name with his uncle - a top bloke and friend of Worn Free - Toby Marriott of the Strays and Black Drummer. It is heartening to know that Steve’s children (and hopefully grandchildren) are creating music and have inherited his talents.
Rock this Steve Marriott t-shirt
Love keeps the rock and roll spirit alive in all of us, Steve didn’t know what lay ahead for him back in 1974 – but he certainly wore his heart on his sleeve – or the front of his t-shirt at least. This Valentine’s day, keep your loved ones close and whilst you’re at it, get them to watch this YouTube link to hear some more Humble Pie and check out how to rock this Steve Marriott t-shirt!