Walking into university the other day, I was stopped in the street by a middle-aged man going in the opposite direction. “Led Zeppelin? I saw them at Knebworth. Had my first ever (he gestured smoking a joint).”
“Wow, really? In ’79?”
“I was 14, I expect you weren’t even born then?”
The man tutted and walked away before I even had a chance to reply. This is not the first time something like this has happened to me, and I am sure it won’t be the last either.
Had I been given a moment to speak, I would have explained to the stranger, that I am in fact a genuine Zeppelin fan. I have all of their albums on Vinyl, I have seen their lead singer, Robert Plant, in concert twice, and have painted canvases and jackets featuring the band’s likenesses.
I wear their t-shirts because I am proud to be a fan, not just because I’m a hipster who just thinks it “looks cool” to wear a shirt with an old band on it.
The trouble that I, and so many other music fans now face, is that we are diluted by hundreds of people who wear t-shirts without knowing anything about the bands whose logos or likenesses they bear. It’s now become uncommon for me to have a day without seeing somebody wearing a Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Motorhead, or a Ramones t-shirt.
Much as it makes me happy that these great groups from the 60s and 70s are still well known by people, it also upsets me that they have been reduced to simply being accessories.
While these people go about wearing these shirts to impress, they are actually forcing sincere fans to go through constant questioning from the original fans who liked these bands in their heyday. In pubs and bars, I often find myself talking to old fans who are at first, suspicious of me for wearing something featuring a group that I may not actually know. More often than not, conversation is enough to show if you are a genuine fan or just someone who liked the design.
However, I for one, feel it is an injustice that real fans are now put under such scrutiny, all for the sake of those individuals who wear band clothes without any consideration for what they stand for.
So what is the solution in all this? It would be great if these people could stop wearing these shirts, or at the very least, do their research first. A lot may find they actually liked the bands they chose to sport as fashion items if they only bothered to listen to them. Failing this, maybe the retailers who sell the items should introduce a compulsory test for the buyer.
Perhaps we should be asked to name the members of Pink Floyd, and a number of their song titles, before they can buy the Dark Side of the Moon shirts which seem every other person seems to own. Somehow I don’t see this taking off, but in the mean time, before you put on a band t-shirt of a group you don’t know, spare a thought to those real fans whose reputations you are affecting.