May 122010

Could this be the equalizer?

As a seemingly rare rock ‘n roll lover who sees (and, yes [sadly], seeks) connections between music and sports – and as an observer of and sometimes participant in rock style – I’ve long been fascinated by rockers’ attempts at bringing athletic wear onto stage. To date the merging of athletic clothing and rock ‘n roll has not taken root, although rap/hip-hop artists have succeeded beyond any sports-and-music fan’s wildest desires, ranging from track to football field to the hardwood. Hip-hop artists have even worked in the popular athletic gear with perhaps the highest degree of difficulty of incorporating into rock ‘n roll style (or style anywhere off the playing field for that matter): the baseball jersey.

But we’re here to talk about athletic wear as one of rock’s unfulfilled fashion ideas. Sorry to stoop to Rockism, but let’s not kid ourselves: rock ‘n rollers have not had much success in this realm. It’s important that we focus on rock ‘n roll artists who’ve attempted bridging this divide and see if we can’t figure out whether there is any reason for future rock musicians to pursue this concept.


  27 Responses to “Rock’s Unfulfilled Fashion Ideas: Athletic Wear”

  1. I recall a photo of the Eagles from the 70’s in which a few of them were wearing hockey or football jerseys so I’ve always considered them pioneers in the field. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to look for it this morning.

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    That Jagger pic is absolutely priceless.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    I had hoped to feature The Eagles, cdm, but I couldn’t find that shot. When I search for Eagles images I get too many reunion-era shots of them in longcoats and other nauseating Looks. They do deserve credit for popularizing the jersey Look in the US, and I suspect they deserve demerits for being one of those bands that switched jerseys to please each hometown’s crowd.

    The Jagger pic is so weird that I kept looking at it before using in this post, thinking it was a Jagger impersonator. How could even the real Jagger be so open about getting to his essence during that period?

  4. misterioso

    Let us not forget the Who on the cover of Odds & Sods.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    Still looking for those shots of The Eagles (the band) in football and hockey jerseys…meanwhile:

    Here’s a good sports-themed, 3/4-sleeve concert t-shirt:

    John McVie’s famously failed attempt at rocking some form or baseball jersey:

    McVie must have been quite the sports fan:

    Meanwhile, rock’s unfulfilled fashion idea centering around cheerleading is for another day:

    Totally forgot about the tennis and basketball-inspired terrycloth headband Look:

    RTH pinup girl Linda Rondstadt should have gotten some credit for this homage to roller derby:

    But the big shocker in my as-yet-unfulfilled quest to located an image of The Eagles in sports jerseys is this shot, of Belinda Carlisle, making a baseball jersey look as good as possible for not being worn on the field, in a game:

  6. bostonhistorian

    L.A. Kings jersey, I think. Not sure who is wearing it: all the Eagles look alike to me.

  7. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks, bostonhistorian. I was getting really sick of looking at those guys.

  8. BigSteve

    I recall that Stephen Still was a pioneer in the football jersey Look:

    And in the hippie era sports were NOT considered cool.

  9. BigSteve

    Let’s not forget Olivia Newton John’s aerobics instructor Look:

  10. Mr. Moderator

    EXCELLENT call on Stills, BigSteve!!! I wonder if he was the first musician to don a football jersey? How did I forget this classic shot?

    And from 1975:

    Never saw this one before:

    Nor this shot:

    Factor in his work-in-vain in support of The Pancho and Stills may be one of rock’s all-time pioneers in unfulfilled fashion ideas.

  11. Love the McVie Hawaii 77 football shirt,which was the rage in 1977.

    I also never get tired of looking at pictures of Linda Ronstadt from the 70s.

    Has anyone seen Mike Love of the Beach Boys without a baseball hat in the last 30 years? In this PR pix he’s sporting a USA cap with what appears to be a suit.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    Word is, funoka, Love needs to keep the hat on. It’s something like this:

  13. Amen Mr. Mod — he should be in jail for continuing to tour as “The Beach Boys.”

  14. Because no one can offer up any photographic evidence of Eagles wearing sports gear of any sort, I motion that IT NEVER HAPPENED a la ZZ Top/Cattle.


  15. trolleyvox

    On the topic of the pseudo-sport/passtime of bowling: the bowling shirt has been a long-used go-to look for particular sub-genres of rock, especially surf, rock-a-billy, “roots” music and their punk/new wave descendants. Bowling shirts also are a great gateway look into middle age. They project just the right mix of retro cool and playful irony. One of their pitfalls, alas, is their ubiquity, which can dilute any look. An off-shoot look is the space pajama. Though more uncommon, it can be worn effectively; the primo example being the B-52’s. I wish I could find a photo of ancient Philly-area mod band the Fad in their Jetsons/Star Trek shirts. Almost as much as I wish I had a copy of their extremely hard-to-find ep.

  16. Mr. Moderator

    Funny, TB, but thankfully, at 11:45 am, bostonhistorian found a shot of Glenn Frey with The Eagles in an LA Kings sweater. I was starting to worry myself:)

    Tvox, is this “our” Fad playing on some LA TV show, according to YouTube?

  17. trolleyvox

    I might add that it’s just a hop skip and a jump from the sports look to the military look (with diversions into auto mechanic and race driver jackets). I suppose it comes down to the semiotics of uniforms in rock, their relationship to masculinity and sexuality, topics that RTH labs should really sink its paws into at some point.

  18. trolleyvox

    I think that’s them!!

  19. Mr. Moderator

    At first thought, it seems military gear has been extremely successful in rock style. It would be interesting to consider why the military Look has succeeded when the sports Look has not.

  20. This will fall into the psuedo-sport category for many people, but Talking Heads were semi-renowned for wearing golf shirts early in their career, right? (Although in my cursory Google search, it looks like Chris Franz was the only member consistently photographed wearing one).

  21. hrrundivbakshi

    The Living Color guy used to wear scuba gear on stage — a very bad Look!

    Athletic garb I’d like to see worn by rock stars:

    – Jodphurs/polo/jockey gear
    – Jai-alai
    – Swimming, to include speedos, goggles and nose-plugs
    – Greco-Roman wrestling helmets
    – Ice skates and/or those incredibly girly men’s figure skating outfits
    – Skis!
    – Parachutes
    – Snorkel, fins, etc.

  22. you’ve got to give Rod the Mod some credit. He’s got to be the ONLY one who actually plays the sport onstage. And.. probably the only one who played the sport somewhat in real life…

  23. There are a lot of jerseys in the Felder book Moddie, thats probly where you remember them from.

    here’s my man at the Vet in 81 wearin an Eagles Jersey. You can’t see it in this pic, but he has yellow football pants on.

  24. BigSteve

    When I saw Roxy Music on the Siren tour (’75?) Bryan Ferry was affecting this military Look with (only occasionally visible here) jodhpurs:

    Very nazi chic. He’s rocking some khaki’s here:

  25. misterioso

    I would have sworn the Jagger as wide receiver look was the worst ever but the Rod pic at the top of this really takes the cake. Almost as bad is this look which I think is from the last Faces tour, sans Ronnie Lane, which appears to be a glorified Rod solo tour.

  26. Mr. Moderator

    In the ongoing poll I voted for the shirtless Roger Daltrey to build my soccer team around, but how the hell did that junkie Pete Doherty get a vote and, so far, Feargal’s got none? Come on, did you see his header action in the “My Perfect Cousin” video? I don’t know how tall Doherty is, but Sharkey’s got to have a good 6 inches on the other rockin’ footballers in the poll. Who better to put a header in the back of the net from a well-placed corner kick than Feargal Sharkey?

  27. Mr. Moderator

    Rod’s got a nipple slip from the opening frame of that video, misterioso. Watch it Townspeople: NSFW!

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