Oh T-shirts, how I love thee! They have the ability to keep gas in the tank of a band's van and put a meal in front of them while out on the road. Aside from helping in band promotion they also act as forms of payment, peace offerings and items for barter. Often taken for granted, band T-shirts are what keep the mid-level music biz afloat.
Working in an industry that doesn't require one to wear a suit and tie or a uniform with a name tag means there sometimes needs to be other superficial ways to check credibility, status and taste. T-shirts are often that means. For example, if I saw someone wearing an Angry Birds T-shirt and was over 25 years-old, I will immediately assume that person is a fucking moron. It's kind of like avoiding anybody who is of post-graduate age and reads Harry Potter books.
However, there are certain shirts that instantly scream cred. For example, anybody who passes my transom sporting the classic "Mickey Mouse" Jesus Lizard T-shirt will undoubtedly seize my attention and attain my almost-immediate respect. If the T-shirt displays a lesser-known entity, like a vintage guitar company, small record label logo, obscure band or some cool graphic illustration, I might be liable to assume this person, despite the pedestrian choice of T-shirt/jeans ensemble, has discerning tastes as well -- a cut above the rest of the crowd.
That said, sometimes wearing the band T-shirt itself is simply not enough. Just because you wear a Metallica T-shirt, you have to be careful it has the correct logo. A "Load" era logo just doesn't carry the same weight as a "Ride The Lightning" era logo. Conversely, if, in 2013, somebody passed me on the street wearing a Kiss shirt from their 1983-1996 sans make-up era, I'll either think that person is doomed to eternal virginity or the coolest cat this side of the Kiss-quator (copyright 2013 by me, Gene).
It's a fine line to walk when considering T-shirt staples like The Ramones' iconic Presidential eagle seal and the old English Motorhead Snaggletooth emblem. Both insignias transcended their rock roots and have become pop culture mainstays to the point where even some 20-something hipsters actually think they're more brands than bands. So I'm very wary to credit someone with discerning taste upon seeing these shirts on their person. They could very well be some weekend warrior playing dress-up rocker who only knows "Enter Sandman."
And even when this stab at credibility is heartfelt, like a 19-year-old kid wearing a Slayer "Show No Mercy" baseball T-shirt, it's also hard to not suspend disbelief that they actually bought that shirt at the show way back in the day. On the other hand, Charlie Sheen "Winning" T-shirts, while gauche today could very well turn around and become a hilarious wardrobe throwdown in say, eight years. Just try containing your laughter if somebody wearing a Borat "Let's Make Sexy Time" T-shirt walked by you even today.
So with all this thought into something as common as the casual top, I proffer up my favourite T-shirt -- the Don Knotts-as-Danzig "Donzig" shirt. Now, I'm not sure if this is actual merch for a band called Don Knotts ('cause there is a band called Don Knotts from Wyoming, MI) or just another appropriation of the Glenn Danzig-fronted "Danzig" skull, itself a poaching of the skull from Marvel comic "Crystar, Crystal Warrior" issue no. 8 from 1983, but that's irrelevant. What is important is that never has a T-shirt so seamlessly blended two of my favourite things in the world -- Three's Company's Ralph Furley a.k.a. Barney Fife, and the Danzig skull. It's like the showbiz equivalent of a Reese's Pieces candy bar.
I first saw Nashville Pussy's Jeremy Thompson wearing the shirt in a band photo and badgered him about it until I retrieved its details. It took a while but I finally tracked down the makers and have since seen it sold at various online depots. Clearly, my fandom for both entities is shared.
I own and have seen every episode of Three's Company and its spin-offs The Ropers and Three's A Crowd at least five times over. Furthermore, I have just about every Glenn Danzig-related record that's ever been released and probably listened to each a minimum of 10 times, if not more. In other words, there's never been something so tailor-made for me then this Donzig shirt.
It's almost as if the T-shirt knocked on my door because I had been waiting for it. It danced on my floor and took a step that was new. Even though I was in a loveable space and needed its face it wasn't about to see my light. It did however want to find hell with me and I showed it what it was like.