8   Rock Around the World September, 1976


Sha Na Na—Circa 1950-1970

Rock & roll has alternately been credited and condemned for

a variety of reasons—from the decline in moral standards to causing deafness in its listeners. In fashion though, rock & roll

has definitely changed the attitude of the industry for

the better. Until the advent of ‘Pop Culture,’ fashion was the

perogative of Paris and ruled predominantly by men who

designed almost exclusively for women. They dictated how a woman from 15-50 should look and were more or less faithfully copied throughout the fashion world. No one thought to design

exclusively for the young. Since the elegance of the 20’s and

30’s, most men seemed to dress as dully as possible and if

anyone did design for them it certainly didn’t show!

As with the rest of rock & roll, fashion for youth started in

America but had to cross the Atlantic to really take off. Elvis Presley was probably the first to make an impact with the way

he looked. It wasn’t so much what he wore as how he wore it—tight! He also started ‘,he fashion for sideburns which would later become universal. This whole image of tight trousers and slicked hair became the uniform of early rock & roll, an image

which is kept alive by bands like Sha Na Na, many of whose

most devoted fans are too young to remember the days when

Elvis was known as ‘The Pelvis.’

When The Beatles emerged in the early 60’s, they had ‘mop-tops’ and wore what became known as Beatle jackets and

Beatle boots. It seems strange now after Jagger. Bowie &

company that the Beatles’ appearance created the outrage it did. Along with the Beatles there emerged a host of new British

groups, all of whom were in retrospect neat, identically

he-suited and wholesome. But already there was a new

standard-bearer for fashion, The Rolling Stones, who were long-haired, unkempt and rebellious. Youth was suddenly at a premium—as The Who said, “1 hope I die before I get old!” A whole industry sprang up whose sole purpose was to cater to the

whims of the young. Boutiques, clubs and groups came and

went at lightning speed. Musicians no longer wore suits;

instead they found satin trousers, flag jackets and high heel

boots, the rest of us followed suit. One’s apparel denoted whether one was ‘in,’ or God forbid, ‘out.’ The Mods were the top dressers of the time and as such have become part of Rock history. The Kinks made ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ and

the Small Faces went a step further in their choice of a

name—a ‘face’ was the name given to a really well-dressed


During this time, London and Liverpool had been the places; suddenly it changed as the ‘in’ spots became Haight Ashbury or

India with a Guru. Sharp dressing ended in a flurry of beads, bells, feathers and outrageously mismatched old clothes. The Beatles shed their clean good looks and Sgt. Pepper was born;

The Stones became Their Satanic Majesties. Janis Joplin and

David Bowie—Immaculate!

Kiss—Faceless, behind a spectacular image!