Music is more than vocal or instrumental sound. It’s more than harmony, melody, octaves and timing. Music is beauty, expression, and so much more. Music is growth, and that’s easy to see when you think back to the beginning of certain genres. Where would we be without Jimi Hendrix? The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? Would we understand the importance of rhythm and flow if it wasn’t for Biggie Smalls and Tupac? Music is continuously transforming, and it’s all thanks to some of our favorite and iconic musicians. These music tees featuring bands through the last six decades are the perfect way to show off your musical tastes.
As ’70s band t shirts, vintage rap tees, and other music graphic tees are trending in fashion, we’re going to highlight music through the decades and some of the artists that made a huge impact. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
The 1960s will always go down in history as one of the best musical decades. Between The Beatles making their debut, countless bands sweeping the nation with their talent, and the beginning of the infamous Woodstock festival, it’s impossible to say the ’60s didn’t rock. Here’s a few of our favorite groups and artists from the 1960s:
Famously known as one of the pioneers of reggae music, Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer, songwriter and musician. Also known as a Rastafari icon, his music included a sense of spirituality and he was not afraid to talk about the legalization of marijuana, and his support for democratic social reforms.
Originating in London, England, The Rolling Stones made their music debut in 1962 and reached peak fame between 1965 and 1967. Besides the fact that Mick Jagger was a total hottie, the band’s sound was on the heavier side of the pop rock genre, making them one of the first iconic rock bands. Rooted in blues and rock and roll, The Rolling Stones released their first hit single “It’s All Over Now” in June of 1963, and their career was on the up from there. With 30 studio albums, 22 live albums, 29 compilation albums, and 48 video albums, it’s safe to say the Stones are one of the most successful and most influential rock bands to ever exist.
Another English rock band, Pink Floyd, formed in 1964 and changed the entire rock and roll game. Their sound combined progressive rock, art rock, experimental rock, psychedelia and space rock, which made for philosophical lyrics and elaborate live shows. Throughout their entire career, their live shows were one of the most sought-after music events, and to this day, they are one of the most iconic. Selling more than 250 million records as of 2013, Pink Floyd is one of the best-selling bands of all time.
Jimi Hendrix is the definition of “The man, the myth, the legend.” Playing a right-handed guitar upside down, Jimi Hendrix set the tone for guitar players everywhere. Left-handed guitars were slim to none and although Hendrix ate and wrote with his right hand, he continued to strum with his left. He is best known for discovering the possibilities that come with playing an electric guitar. One of the first to incorporate fuzz and distortion, Hendrix is most known for his songs “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” and his powerful performance of The National Anthem at Woodstock 1969.
California-based rock band The Grateful Dead, formerly known as The Warlocks, formed in 1965 and quickly established a fan base who named themselves “Dead Heads” (sometimes spelled Deadheads). With their career-peaking years after the 1960s, The Grateful Dead incorporated elements of rock, folk, country, jazz, blues, and even gospel into their unique sound. Paving the road for rock bands to come, The Grateful Dead is still one of the most popular rock bands to ever exist.
’70s Rock Bands
With influences that stemmed from the iconic musicians of the 1960s, the 1970s music scene continued to provide amazing music that would only grow more popular with time. Though most of the 1960s bands above were still extremely popular in this decade, the below groups were new to the scene and ready to make their mark.
Though formed in the ’60s, Led Zeppelin reached new success in the 1970s. Aside from writing and performing brilliant music, the band brought forth a sense of fashion unlike the rest. Pairing their live performances with flamboyant outfits and professional light shows, their concerts felt more like an experience. They crafting 108 songs between 1968 and 1980. Some of their biggest and most popular hits consist of “In My Time of Dying, “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”
Releasing hit songs over and over and over again, Queen is undoubtedly one of the most influential bands to come out of the 1970s. Still idolized today, Freddie Mercury and the rest of the members wrote chart-topping songs including “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In addition to delivering quality songwriting, Freddie Mercury’s voice is one that will never be forgotten.
After releasing their first single “Can I Sit Next to You, Girl” in 1974, Australian rock and roll group AC/DC was headed straight for success. Setting the tone for what was to come, AC/DC didn’t disappoint and continued to put out chart-topping hits like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” “Highway to Hell” and “Hells Bells.” Making an impact way past their peak in the ’70s, as of November 2020, “You Shook Me All Night Long” had 49.3 million UK streams.
’80s Rock Bands
When you think about the ’80s, the term “hair bands” may come to mind. It seems like this decade was all about “big hair, don’t care.” But hairstyles and fashion weren’t the only things that progressed in the 1980s. Music changed, too. Sounds got a little heavy, power chords became a little more prominent and the “heavy metal” genre was full speed ahead.
Straight out of Los Angeles, California came heavy metal band, Metallica. Though the success of their career outlived the 1980s, they released their first single, “Hit the Lights,” in 1982. With 10 number-one hits on the Mainstream Rock Songs Charts, this ties them for the fifth-most number one hits in history, right alongside Disturbed and the legendary Tom Petty.
Making their debut in the late 1970s, Van Halen truly began to shine in the 1980s. Combining sounds of hard rock, heavy metal, glam metal, and pop rock, Van Halen changed the music game forever. Lead singer David Lee Roth was known for his distinctive vocals and rowdy stage personality, making their live show one to remember.
Everyone knows Guns N’ Roses’ popular hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” and it’s still played regularly on radio stations and is a very popular cover band tune. Lead guitarist Slash is known as one of the greatest guitarists in history, and has become an inspiration to guitar players everywhere.
’90s Rock, Rap & Hip Hop Bands
While rock and roll will never die, the 1990s opened up a plethora of new opportunities for musicians. Pop music was rising, grunge was all the rage, and rappers were changing the game.
Though formed in the late 1980s, Nirvana had their mainstream breakthrough in 1991 with the release of their album Nevermind and its hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which won the 1992 MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist and was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” The trio, consisting of lead singer Kurt Cobain, bass player Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, who went on to for the Foo Fighters, put grunge on the map. Even after his traumatic passing, Cobain is considered a legend in the business.
Sublime was one of the first bands to incorporate reggae rock and ska punk into their music. With a handful of albums and countless chart-topping hits, Sublime took the world by storm during the 1990s. After the passing of lead singer Bradley Nowell, the band took a break, but they made their comeback as “Sublime with Rome” in 2009.
Tupac Shakur’s career began in 1989, but he became a popular rising star between 1992 and 1993. Most commonly known by his stage name, 2Pac, he was widely known as an American rapper, songwriter and actor. Being an advocate for activism and equality made him an inspiration to his huge fandom. His songs and strong words still make an impact today.
His name says it all. Known as one of the greatest rappers of all time, The Notorious B.I.G., also known as “Biggie Smalls,” took over the music scene in the 1990s. Often rapping about his personal life, Biggie’s flow and writing technique are unmatched.
As you may know, Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to f*ck with! Formed in 1992 from Staten Island, New York, Wu-Tang Clan is still one of the most popular rap groups today. Known as a highly influential rap group, Wu-Tang Clan helped develop East Coast hip hop and hardcore hip hop styles. Their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang was released in 1993 and quickly became rated as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time.
Known for being an American singer, actress, dancer, and model, Aaliyah is credited with redefining R&B, pop, and hip hop. Also known as the princess of R&B and The Queen of Urban Pop, the music world suffered a big loss with her passing.
Selena is another popular singer whose life was cut tragically short at the age of 23. Along with singing, she was a songwriter and actress, and is known as the “Queen of Tejano music” for songs like “Como la Flor,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” and “Dreaming of You.”
Music of the 2000s and Beyond
From boy bands to pop icons and everything in between, the 2000s and beyond are jam-packed with influential musicians. N*SYNC and The Backstreet Boys were making girls scream all over the nation, rap music continued to boom, and the production of music continued to show growth. Today, many of these artists are climbing the charts, releasing number one singles, and creating music videos that will go down in history.
Launching his career in the late 2010s, Trippie Redd’s career didn’t take any time to take off. Both his freshman studio album Life’s a Trip and sophomore album ! both reached the top five on the Billboard 200, and his third studio album reached number two.
Making history in 2019, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus spent 19 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Along with producing chart-topping singles, Lil Nas X is unapologetically himself, and proudly speaks out about his sexuality and his place in the LGBTQIA+ community. His iconic boundary-busting video for “Montero” in which he gives the devil a lap dance got the internet talking and is truly unforgettable.
Rapper and songwriter Juice WRLD continues to be extremely popular since his untimely death in 2019. The “Lucid Dreams” and “All the Girls Are the Same” singer’s posthumous album Legends Never Die has secured his place among hip hop fans.
Machine Gun Kelly, also known as “Kells,” has never put himself in a box. From coming up in the rap genre to bringing back pop punk, MGK is dominating the music community. His debut pop punk album Tickets to My Downfall reached number one on the rock charts and he continues to sell out stadiums across the world.
Her rise to fame was anything but slow. Billie Eilish’s album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which was recorded in her childhood bedroom, received over 150 nominations and took home 64 wins. Created with her brother Finneas, Billie Eilish’s music includes pieces of pop, electro pop and indie pop influences.
Music is ever-changing and always growing. When it comes to music, there are no rules, it’s all about inspiration and creativity. Who’s your favorite artist? Who’s your biggest influence? Show us your favorite band tees by emailing Spencersblog@spencergifts.com and you may be featured in a future post.