Back in high school, denim jackets were the shit for a certain class of student body. The long-hairs, burners and pimple-faced rejects all wore them with pride, as if to say “Fuck You Jocks” or “Die Preppy Scum.” Part of the uniform, the dirtier the better.
Was it that radical? We thought so.
“You cruz through the hallways in your docksiders and chinos while we skip class and drink warm beer in the cab of a ‘78 280Z while listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery…on cassette.”
Take that you conformist wimps.
Even cooler were the denim jackets with Judas Priest patches.
Better than that?
A customized paint job on the back. Of your favorite Iron Maiden album.
As a budding young artist and obsessive rock fan, I began painting jackets for friends, for fun. I did some of the usual classics; Led Zeppelin I, Close to the Edge by Yes, and a few Psychedelic Hippie Landscapes.
I almost attempted the cover of Molly Hatchet’s self-titled debut by the great Frank Frazetta, whose work I’d been copying for years, but it was way out of my league and my love of the Hatchet hadn’t fully taken hold.
Painted denim jackets are a cottage industry these days, some demanding shit-loads of money. I guess they are Retro Cool for the Fashionably Ironic Set, but back in simpler times they were an honest form of expression and creativity.
These were the days when wearing a concert shirt meant A) you went to the show, and B) you liked the band.
Today? Not so much.
Painting denim was a labor of love and I only managed to do a handful, but they were cool, and they rocked.
Posted here are the only surviving photos from two jackets, circa 1988.
Pay no attention to the man in the preppy shirt and tie. He’s just being Fashionably Ironic.
Artwork and photographs by the Rock File