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!
Check out this backstage photo of punk rock legend Dee Dee Ramone sporting what looks like a bootleg Detroit Wings (Not RED WINGS) shirt circa 1979.
Then I came across this photo taken 3 years earlier of a 13-year old Michigan native and future lead-singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kiedis and his dad actor Blackie Dammett (circa 1976) rocking the exact same Detroit shirt.
What a trip!!! This has to be one of the most random same photo coincidences of a rock star and future rock star wearing the same shirt. Detroit natives and Ramones & Chili Peppers fans alike can now pick up their own DETROIT shirt complete with Dee Dee Ramone backstage pass sticker by clicking the shirt or link below.
Check out Jimmy Page supporting his probable favorite prescription drug of the moment by wearing a Quaalude, Rorer 714 shirt.
The photo was taken in early 1977 during a Led Zeppelin rehearsal at Manticore Studios in Fulham in preparation for their upcoming tour.
Quaalude (Methaqualone) in the United States was originally manufactured in 1965 by the Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, based pharmaceutical firm William H. Rorer Inc. Here’s the packaging and the pill…
The “Ludes” popularity peaked in the early 1970s as a hypnotic, for the treatment of insomnia, and as a sedative and muscle relaxant. The rights to Quaalude were held by the JB Roerig & Company division of Pfizer, before the drug was discontinued in the United States in 1985, mainly due to its psychological addictiveness and recreational use.
Tommy Chong also rock the shirt in the movie Cheech & Chong “Up In Smoke“.
Keith Moon also had the shirt but I have not found a photo of him wearing it yet.
You can buy this officially licensed shirt from Worn Free by clicking the image below.
Visit feelnumb.com for the best Rock N' Roll music facts on the web.
It is hard to believe that it was 43 years ago today that Gram Parsons of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, died in Joshua Tree, California at the young age of 26.
Gram was a huge influence on bands like The Eagles and The Rolling Stones (and many, many other since). Without his contribution to country rock we would no have heard many great songs including Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones or his amazing Love Hurts duet with Emmylou Harris.
So stop whatever it is your listening to and stick on the Flying Burrito Brother The Guided Palace of Sin and celebrate the soulful voice of Gram Parsons.