My favorite band, without question, is the Rolling Stones. The majority of my vintage rock t-shirt collection revolves around them. They are the sun at the center of my collection’s solar system. While everyone thinks of the tongue logo when thinking about Stones shirts, the first official shirt came out long before John Pasche designed that now iconic logo.
In 2022 the band celebrated their 60th anniversary and given that recent milestone, it seems fitting to reflect on the band’s first official t-shirt. The shirt originates from the band’s original lineup which featured Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts.
The 1960s were a time of great change and innovation in popular music, and The Rolling Stones were at the forefront of this movement.
While the Stones and Beatles both invaded America in ’64, the merchandising was anything but similar. The Beatles sold a told of merchandise through NEMS. There were Beatles shirts galore as well as shoes, jeans, wigs, and even hairspray. The Stones on the other hand had no such merchandising. Very few Rolling Stones merchandising items exist that are original to the 1960s.
One of the most iconic pieces of Rolling Stones memorabilia is the band’s first-ever t-shirt. The shirt was sold by the band’s official fan club in three different colors: white, yellow, and blue.
In the Rolling Stones Monthly Book from April 10, 1966, fan club secretary Annabelle Smith puts out a reminder that the shirts were still available. To me, this suggests that the shirt itself is likely from earlier in ’66 or possibly even ’65.
The design of the first Rolling Stones t-shirt was simple but instantly recognizable. It featured the band’s name in bold letters in a circular pattern. A similar design can been seen on the cover of Between the Buttons.
The rarity of the first Rolling Stones t-shirt makes it a highly coveted piece of memorabilia. Given that they were produced more than half a century ago, most that were originally sold have now been lost or discarded. I personally only know of three examples that are in collector’s hands today. There are two white ones and the example I own is the light yellow color. I’ve heard rumors of a blue one existing, but have yet to see it surface.
The fact that the Rolling Stones are still going strong after 60 years is a testament to their enduring appeal and influence on popular music. The first Rolling Stones t-shirt is a symbol of this legacy and a reminder of how far the band has come since their early days. It’s remarkable to think that the shirt would have been made around the time of classic Stones songs like “Under My Thumb,” “Paint It Black,” and “Mother’s Little Helper,” all of which have stood the test of time, just like the band and their music.