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The Most Iconic Music T-shirts of All Time

Posted By Kate Degen

Here at CustomInk, we love t-shirts. Not just custom ones, but iconic ones, too! You might be a fan of our 100 most iconic t-shirts of all time list. We thought it was time to take a closer look at some of the most iconic t-shirt genres and see what really makes them cool and special. From Woodstock to MTV, our most iconic music t-shirts have something for everyone, and might even inspire you to create a music tee of your own.

18. Woodstock Festival

Though originals of this classic are very rare, the Woodstock Festival t-shirt design remains etched in American minds, as it perfectly captures the spirit of the time: peace, love, and music. According to the National Museum of American History, the t-shirt was created between 1968-1969. The white dove perched on the guitar was the logo of Woodstock seen on official posters and flyers. The t-shirt that belongs to the museum today is white with navy trim on the neck and sleeves and a navy logo.

17. Yo! MTV Raps

Remember when MTV had shows about music? “Yo! MTV Raps” ran from 1988 to 1995, but its pop art logo has stood the test of time. The show has been given credit for the spread of rap music into modern culture, and featured artists like Naughty by Nature and Salt-N-Peppa. The iconic logo that appears on the t-shirt was created by Dr. Revolt, a New York street artist who became popular on the graffiti scene in the 1970s.

16. CBGB

Open from 1973 to 2006, CBGB (Country, BlueGrass, and Blues) was a pillar of the New York City music scene. Located at 315 Bowery, the club hosted acts from Blondie to the Beastie Boys, The Misfits to Talking Heads. It is now a John Varvatos retail store. Seen this shirt before? That’s because it’s been worn in music videos like Guns n Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and in Green Day’s “Welcome to Paradise”.

15. The Ramones

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, punk rock founders, and not a single Ramone by birth among them. The Ramones influence on music history is steadfast, and their iconic logo makes our iconic t-shirt list. Arturo Vega, sometimes referred to as the “5th Ramone” created the iconic logo for the band’s t-shirt. According to the New York Times, Vega himself sold t-shirts before the band’s shows—sometimes more t-shirts than tickets.

14. I Want My MTV

Over 30 years ago, television was like the town from Footloose—void of rock music and ‘80s dancing. Enter: MTV. Over the past three decades MTV revolutionized the airwaves, creating an industry for everything from music videos to bus-based dating shows. Frank Olinsky, one of the designers of the MTV logo back in 1981, says that one of the final revisions to the logo was putting “music television” under the “M”. This was changed in 2010, when the words were removed from the logo for good.

13. Bob Marley

A musical, national, and fashion icon all in one, Bob Marley is a superstar on our list. Selling 25 million albums worldwide, responsible for bringing Rastafarianism and reggae to the mainstream, it’s only fitting that his image is immortal. The green, yellow, and red of the t-shirt represent the rasta colors. The shirt can still be purchased today on Bob Marley’s official website.


Considered to be one of the most influential hip-hop groups in history, Run-D.M.C. started out performing a new type of rap music in the early 80s. Their innovative musical style helped them achieve fame early, and they were the first hip-hop group to be nominated for a Grammy and achieve gold-album status. This block letter tee showing off their emblem is bold, memorable, and represents hip-hop in its original form. In 2016, Run DMC filed a lawsuit against retailers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon for selling merchandise with the group’s logo without permission.

11. Hard Rock Cafe

If you’ve done any traveling, you’ve probably seen someone wearing a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt at some point. Each Hard Rock Cafe, along with its vast array of music memorabilia, typically sells a shirt with its city name in their gift shop. With over 100 restaurants having opened up all over the world, these shirts have become something of a collectible over the years. The popularity of the t-shirt happened by accident. According to Thrillist, Hard Rock’s owners sponsored a soccer team in 1974, and gave them logo t-shirts. There were extra, so they brought them back to the cafe to give to customers, and they became a hit!

10. Metallica

While Metallica is certainly a popular band in its own right, it was one of America’s most-iconic doofuses who made this t-shirt truly iconic. Or as Butt-Head might say, “Nice shirt Beavis. Uh huh huh huh.” The band’s vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield is responsible for designing the original logo, and still creates some of the new designs today.


Starchild, The Demon, Space Ace, and Catman. KISS has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and legitimized rocking out in platform shoes and leather. Originally named Wicked Lester, Kiss changed its name when (according to some accounts) lead guitarist Ace Frehley wrote “Kiss” on a poster over the old name. There has been controversy around the logo since the lightning bolt “SS” looks similar to a logo used by a WWII Nazi group.

8. Garth’s Aerosmith Shirt

The awkward, soft-spoken member of the dynamic dweeb duo on Wayne’s World gave Aerosmith an extra injection of popularity with this tee. Admittedly, Garth’s was probably a bit more faded and stain-ridden. The t-shirt was thought to be given to members of a special Aerosmith fan club—Aero Force One.

7. Led Zeppelin

Other than the Beatles, no rock band has made fans more ga ga than Led Zeppelin. The band’s logo for their Swan Song record label became just as iconic as frontman Robert Plant’s wails and lead guitarist Jimmy Page’s rhythmic riffs. The logo was based on painter William Rimmer’s Evening (The Fall of Day).

6. Nirvana Smiley Face

Kurt Cobain and Nirvana took the historic “Have a Nice Day” smiley face seen on bumper stickers and t-shirts, and turned it into a grungeified logo for their merchandise. The rest is rock ’n’ roll t-shirt history as they say. The smiley face logo first appeared on a poster drawn by Kurt Cobain. Some say the face was inspired by the sign at Lusty Lady Strip Club in Seattle.

5. Abbey Road

The Beatles final album cover showing John, Paul, George, and Ringo crossing Abbey Road has become a badge of Beatlemania, and when put on a t-shirt, you’ve got them all back together right on your chest. The iconic photo happened because the band didn’t want to fly to Mount Everest for the photo shoot—”Everest” was the original name of the album. The shot was taken on August 8, 1969 while photographer Iain Macmillan stood on a ladder.

4. Grateful Dead

The psychedelic phenoms were also social media marketing pioneers, allowing fans to sell unofficial t-shirts outside their shows, as long as they used the official logo. The skeleton and roses logo was created in 1966 by Stanley “Mouse” Miller and the late Alton Kelley. The image came from a book of poems the two found in the San Francisco library called “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”.

3. AC/DC

The ultimate Rock & Roll t-shirt. Bob Defrin & Gerard Huerta’s gothic “A” and “C” lettertype split with that bold lightning bolt is visually captivating. Pair that with 7 Grammy nods and their 2003 induction into the R&R Hall of Fame and you’ve got yourself an iconic band and tee all-in-one. The infamous logo was created in 1977 by designer Gerard Huerta and appeared on the international version of Let There Be Rock.

2. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

Wear this entry, play the Wizard of Oz, and just…woah, man. An iconic image for one of rock’s most emblematic albums, Pink Floyd inspires generations of listeners to try looking to the dark side. The prism logo that appears on the shirt was created by the band’s designer Storm Thorgerson. According to Rolling Stone, the idea of the prism related to light and the triangle was a symbol of thought and ambition. There was even a version of the logo that never saw the light of day that included a Marvel character.

1. Rolling Stones “Lick”

The alternative album cover for one of the best rock albums of all time, The Rolling Stones’ “Lick” graphic from the Sticky Fingers LP quickly became one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most recognizable symbols. In 1969, Mick Jagger called London’s Royal School of Art to find someone to create album visuals. Who he found, was then 24-year-old John Pasche. Pasche was paid $77 to create the iconic graphic, which was inspired by the mouth of Jagger himself.

Kate wants her work to impact the little but important moments in people’s lives—like birthdays, anniversaries, and family celebrations. She loves coming up with witty copy that might inspire someone to create an awesome t-shirt!

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