Uniform Rock

 Posted by
Aug 102012

Here’s an old topic I would have thought, when it was first posted, would have stoked the fires of the Hall’s collective fashion sense. But it did not. Perhaps we were distracted by John Lennon’s birthday. Or John Entwistle’s. Or Jackson Browne’s. Or Chickenfrank’s. Today is Distraction-Free Friday. Let’s give it another try, shall we? (And whatever happened to Townsman eh?)

This post initially appeared 10/9/08.

Here’s a question that’s probably too encompassing and open to discussion to fit in a poll:

Which uniform/costume of a non-rock group has been most successfully co-opted by a band as their Look?

  • Cowboys (The Band/The Charlatans)
  • 18th Century fops (The Upper Crust)
  • Pirates! (Adam and the Ants)
  • Soldiers/Paramilitary guys (the Clash, circa Combat Rock)
  • Other (please specify)

Looks that don’t count:

  • Angus Young- the Look was not incorporated by the entire band
  • Devo – the Look is entirely made up
  • Village People – various different Looks

  27 Responses to “Uniform Rock”

  1. diskojoe

    Here’s a couple of more from the Swingin’ Sixties:

    1. 18th Century American Revolutionaries/Paul Revere & The Raiders

    2. Monks/The Monks

    3. Civil War Soldiers/Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (Neil Young also dressed up as a Johnny Reb wannabe in some Buffalo Springfield TV appearances);

    4. Edwardian fops/The Kinks 1964-66

  2. I think the fop/revolutionary/pirate look is all one bag, and I’m gonna say the earliest incarnation of it was in the guise of the freaktastic PJ Proby.

    Also: Ballerinas (Angel) and Businessmen (Kraftwerk)

  3. BigSteve

    Isn’t it Clinic that dresses in scrubs? Matt Fink used to do that in Prince’s band the Revolution.

  4. Would the Biker look count also? Or is the time period of biker emergence and rock and roll emergence so close that they just naturally existed simulatneously becasue both were rebels? It’s a great look. The Ramones uniform was great. The Runaways wore it well too.

  5. H. Munster

    In addition to Paul Revere and the Raiders, the New Colony Six also sported the American Revolutionary look.

  6. mockcarr

    The Hives fancy 30s affair tuxedos and top hats look this last tour was pretty good. All they needed was William Powell to come out and introduce them.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    Pursing lips and with various breath exhalations that Mr. Royale has labeled as irritation, she writes:
    1. When did the Charlatans (UK) wear cowboy gear? Are we talking the baggy, madchester Charlatans? I saw them in Boston on their first go-round and I don’t recall any cowboy gear, just lots of baggy trousers, floppy hair and swiveling hips. Of the non-random sampling of videos I just watched, I saw nary a fringe, hat or pistol. (But one ballet dancer wearing what I would call a ballet uniform of bun, leotard, ballet skirt, tights and technique shoes.)

    2. Adam Ant didn’t really wear pirate gear: his look included pirate, tribal and foppish elements and was subsumed under the larger New Romantics look. He and the New Romantics utilized pre-Seinfeld versions of the Puffy Shirt. See Bow Wow Wow, Duran Duran, Visage, Spandau Ballet, etc. (In an amazing discovery, at a little museum in SoCal, Mr. and Mrs. Maudlin and Mr. Royale and I discovered the original mock up for the Seinfeld Puffy Shirt. It was hanging, forlorn in a corner of the museum. I don’t think the visitors knew the importance of what they were observing.)

  8. Here’s another possible genre – Star Trek? Alien? Moon Rock? Bowie and the lads during the Ziggie phase all had a glam shiny future astronaut feel. The outfits in “Starman” look like bare-chested Star Trek uniforms.


    Did any band all simultaneously wear the Pete Townshend working man jumper suit? Mentos TV commercial wear.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    Fur-trapper chic with Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

  10. Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Bananarama both wore those dungaree one piece jumpers with the 2 shoulder straps. Not even sure what that apes. Car mechanic? Little Rascals? Farmer? Haystack Calhoun?

  11. ladymisskirroyale

    What about groups that dress up as animals or monsters? GWAR? The Bubble Men?


  12. The original Charlatans, Ladymiss. The Charlatans (UK) had to add the (UK) so as not to be confused with Bay Area psychedelic cowboys from the 60’s. Dan Hicks (later of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks) was the drummer. Here’s the only song I know from them but I like it a lot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXq9dKRHscQ

  13. ladymisskirroyale

    And bringing it back around: Dan Hick’s “I Scare Myself” was later covered by Thomas Dolby.

    Thanks for the clarification. I’m in a less harumphy mood now. I like that Charlatans song, too.

  14. I would put Bubble Men in the same category as DEVO or The Residents. They have made up their own look rather than draw it from another genre. Unless you’ve seen some other non-musical group that look like the Bubble Men; in that case, I’ll have what you’re having.

  15. ladymisskirroyale


  16. It looks like typically only Sam the Sham dressed as a pharaoh, although his band as least one time justified their name:

    More importantly, how did we go this long without mention of The Busboys?

  17. The replacements went with Janitor jump suits similar to the Townshend look on their “Don’t Tell a Soul” tour.

  18. All the ’80s soft-metal bands like Poison, Cinderella, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister. Let’s see – tight leather pants, Madonna-like shoulder exposing torn t-shirts, big feathery hair, lots of make-up, giant dangling earrings, leopard print pants and tops, pointy high-heel footware. Hey, let’s all dress up like hookers!

  19. mockcarr

    The sad thing is, even if they had boobs, that look would not have worked.

  20. hrrundivbakshi

    WINNER! One of these days, I have to post about the time I saw Stryper in concert. Weird!

  21. hrrundivbakshi

    Haystack Calhoun?


  22. misterioso

    The mere thought of Stryper makes me laugh, really hard.

  23. Those now pretty much forgotten 70s Scottish rock band “Bay City Rollers’ Whereever Bay City is. What’s relevant here is their combination Scottish Tartan trim and Kubrick’s Droogs I think from his “Clockwork Orange” That’s my pick.

  24. ladymisskirroyale

    Hey, look who I just found:

    I’d heard something with Redd Kross on NPR the other day. I guess they’ve taken some time off to obtain some sartorial tips from Kiss and ABC; sonically, this sounds more Guided By Voices.

  25. 2000 Man

    One of my favorite bands, The Bloody Hollies, started off with a Mormon Look. Like the guys that cone around ad knock on your door. Black pants, white shirt, black tie. The Jam used to come out in suits and dropped the jackets quickly, but The Bloody Hollies never wore the jackets so far as I know. They were going for that “Look at those nice boys” Look with a “Turn off that infernal racket!” sound.


  26. The Grateful Dead were dressed like shit for most of their career, weren’t they?

  27. The Mummies, of course…


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