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  • Writer's pictureHeather Rafool

The 10 Best Band Shirts in History

From Led Zeppelin to Iron Maiden, band shirts have had an incredible history. But some stand out more than others. Here are the 10 best band shirts to make history.

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There's so much more to being a music fan than just appreciating quality music. For as long as major record labels have been around, music merchandising and memorabilia has been a prominent part of a band's image.

Case and point: The band shirt.

Undoubtedly you have a few in your closet, but which are the best of the best? Here are 10 of the best band shirts in history.

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

We'll kick off our list of cool band tees with what is perhaps the most iconic record on this list, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

Even if you know nothing about Pink Floyd or music in general, you've undoubtedly come across this shirt at one point or another.

Based on the legendary album cover, this shirt is about as simple as it gets. It's a black shirt featuring an image of a beam of light shooting into a prism with a rainbow coming out of the other side of the prism.

It's simple, it's beautiful, and it's hard to argue just how cool it is.

Nirvana - Yellow Smiley Face

You don't have to have been around in Nirvana's heyday to appreciate their innovative sound.

Out of the band's whole discography, none stand out quite like Nevermind, which might explain why there's so much marketing around the album.

Truthfully, it's a little ironic that one of music's most anti-establishment bands became such a merchandising powerhouse, but this shirt proves that the band knew how to have fun with it.

The shirt boasts the band's smiley-faced logo on the front with the phrase, "Flower sniffin, Kitty Pettin, Baby Kissin, Corporate Rock Whores" written on the back.

Allegedly, Kurt Cobain came up with the image sometime during the writing of Nevermind which adds an extra layer of cool to the shirt.

The Ramones - Presidential Seal

It's hard to come up with a list of the best band shirts (or the best bands in general) without mentioning The Ramones.

Regarded as one of the godfathers of punk alongside The Clash and Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones created a sound that was groundbreaking as it was loud.

And while the four band members get tons of credit, they count their frequent collaborator and designer, Arturo Vega, as an unofficial fifth member thanks to his contributions.

For instance, Vega came up with the famous presidential seal image seen on many of the band's shirts, giving birth to ostensibly one of the coolest band tees of all time.

Led Zeppelin - Burning Blimp

Aside from The Beatles, perhaps no band has contributed more to modern music than Led Zeppelin. Their most famous shirt features the band's name, as well as its namesake, a flaming blimp crashing to the ground.

Why the rather morbid imagery?

Allegedly, the band took its name from a conversation between Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, who briefly considered forming a supergroup.

Upon further consideration, Moon remarked that the group would've gone over, "like a lead balloon."

Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction Cover

As the 1980s began to draw to a close, many music fans were hungry for something heavier and faster.

Enter Guns N' Roses, who formed from the remnants of two Los Angeles-based bands, L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose.

Shortly after the band's formation, the band was signed to a major record label, Geffen Records, and promptly began work on their debut album. Artist Robert Williams allegedly had a much darker album cover in mind, with a robot standing over a battered woman.

Geffen wasn't too excited about the idea, so they hired Billy White Jr. who designed the legendary skull and cross image often associated with GNR.

Misfits - The Crimson Ghost

It doesn't matter where you go, stand still long enough and you're bound to run into someone in a Misfits shirt.

But did you know that the famous skull logo has a name? It's true! The band actually lifted the character from a 1946 horror film named The Crimson Ghost.

If you ask us, it seems like the perfect choice for a horror and sci-fi obsessed group like Misfits.

Metallica - Kill 'Em All

Before models and celebrities like Taylor Momsen and Justin Bieber rocked Metallica shirts, fans of 80s thrash were rocking Metallica shirts featuring the band's first album cover.

In truth, it's a rather grisly image. The cover is a red-bordered image of a hammer next to a pile of blood and an opened hand. If this sounds cartoonish and violent, that's precisely the reaction Metallica wanted to create.

Still, it's undoubtedly one of the best band shirts out there. It's so popular that you can still walk into just about any mall and pick one up.

Black Flag - Bars and Logo

Five years before anyone had even heard of Metallica, Black Flag was hard at work solidifying their position as the underground's heaviest punk band.

Writing about everything from politics to mental illness to poverty, Black Flag took its less-is-more approach to its cool band tees as well as its music.

Look no further than the band's shirts, most of which are just the band's logo and some black bars.

Iron Maiden - Killers

Unlike their counterparts, Iron Maiden enjoyed a certain campy aspect that extended to its stage show. This includes the band's famous mascot, Eddie.

The surprisingly popular zombie mascot got a rework after the band's debut record and is now every bit as recognizable as the opening drum beat of Wrathchild.

Slayer - Reign in Blood

Last but certainly not least on our list of the best band shirts is Slayer's Reign in Blood shirt.

No stranger to satanic imagery, the Reign in Blood-inspired shirt is certainly no different. The shirt paints a pretty macabre picture of the hellscape adorning the band's 27-minute opus.

Looking For The Best Band Shirts? Look No Further Than SE Apparel

So there you have it, 10 of the best band shirts. Which of these iconic tees do you have?

If you're looking to acquire some more or learn how to rework those classics into your wardrobe, you've come to the right place. SE Apparel offers screen printed retro tees that fit any fan with any budget.

Check out our store to find a great look that fits your fandom.

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