Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve
What comes to mind first when you think about Duran Duran tour merchandise? The tour tee shirt, of course! In a way, it’s a constant way to remember their experience. Let's have a look at some of the ones we feel is Duran Duran's best.
Band shirts grew up with rock & roll. In 1956, a young Elvis Presley was the first to have his mug emblazoned on a tee shirt. His wily manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was a promotions visionary, keen to get the handsome face of Elvis into the hands of adoring teen masses. The Beatles, too, were always keen on merchandising ideas, and by the 1960s music tee shirts were part of the public consciousness. In the 1970's, advances in multi colourscreen printing technology led to designs being more complex and visually exciting, and the tee shirt took off as a music collectable.
Not every band shirt is sold at a concert. The record company would often issue promotional shirts to label employees and gift them to DJs, radio staff and other worthy recipients.
Duran's earliest tee shirts came in 1981, to promote the first album. The red UK version is black in the US, but surely the rarest is the burgundy edition made for only the band and their closest friends and associates.
By 1982, 2 sided shirts had become more common. As you can see with this RIO tour shirt, it has only very basic info on it. At that time, anything more complex was not cost effective.
The Seven & the Ragged Tiger tour was divided into four legs: Australia, Japan, UK and North America. Although many of the tee shirts were the same for the whole tour, some of them had leg-specific information like dates and cities on the back, making them more distinct and more collectible.
Outside of tours, tee shirts are a common type of officially licensed product, found in record stores, rock shops and other places where music goods are sold. Sometimes these shirts look similar to the tour shirt but have no printing on the back.
One of the rarest Duran Duran tee shirt collectible is a set of five oversized Ts featuring the photography of the legendary Francesco Scavullo. These shirts very rarely come up for sale and we here at DDHQ have never seen a set of five offered together.
Duran Duran played a one off show in the Capitol Records Tower parking lot on October 20, 1988 for the release of Big Thing and to commemorate, the label made this amazing and rare tee shirt.
Like so much about collecting Duran Duran, one column can’t do this vast category justice. Fortunately for you, good reader, the PAPER GODS tour is going on all summer. So check the dates, come out to a show, and don't forget to swing by the merch stand. The PG tour shirts are beautiful!
Created by Derek Supryka // Edited by Katy Krassner // Pictures by Derek Supryka