There’s always been ways for musicians to make money outside of the recording studio. Live shows are a given but one of the biggest meal tickets of any entertainer is merchandise. What I’m going to talk about today goes beyond the standard t-shirts and buttons, though. No, what I want to examine are some of the more unorthodox pieces of band merchandise. With the influx of illegal downloading in music over the years, artists have looked to other ways to sell their music or image. Yes, these items are currently available or have existed at some point.
In 2011, to coincide with the band’s 30th anniversary, Hasbro released a special edition version of their popular board game, Monopoly, featuring heavy metal legends, Metallica. In this warped interpretation of playtime greed, players move up and down the board using tokens representing pivotal points in the group’s career such as their signature ninja star logo, the hammer from the “Kill ‘Em All” album cover, the scale from “… And Justice For All”, and the snake from the black album just to name a few. The different properties in the game are streets and monuments throughout the Los Angeles area where the band got their start. Sadly, Lars Ulrich’s bank account isn’t the equivalent of Park Place here. With all the wacky variations of Monopoly that have been released, this was one of the more odd choices. I’m not going to lie though, I would have loved to play at least one game of this. I doubt I would last though since the average game of Monopoly can take hours to complete.
There is not a single band in music history that is more shameless about slapping their name on anything than KISS. Whether its fragrances, pacifiers, or even caskets (and before you laugh, Dimebag Darrell was apparently buried in one of these), there’s not a damn thing Gene Simmons won’t cash in on. Nothing is more horrifying though than the sight of the infamous KISS Kondoms. Really, when you’re in the heat of the moment and about to do the deed, what is more attractive than the sight of Simmons, in his demon makeup and sticking out his tongue, on your Johnson? Well, it’s good to see the storied rock band supports safe sex!
Hey, metal heads need to eat too, right? In 2013, Italian death metal band, Fleshgod Apocalypse, decided to step away from the grain and produce a unique item with their stamp of approval. Tapping into their home country, the band decided to release their own brand of pasta. They’ve got it all from penne to spaghetti to give you a nice headbanging dinner. Sadly, no tomato or Alfredo sauce is available to go with the Italian delight. Will this prompt fellow Italian metal band, Lacuna Coil, to produce their own line of carb heavy cuisine? Only time will tell.
Two sneaker brands that are prominent with listeners of rock ‘n roll are Converse and Vans. In the past few years, both companies have released endorsed designs from different musical artists. One of the more surprising bands to contribute to this trend was Pearl Jam. In 2011, to tie-in with the 20 year anniversary of the release of “Ten”, Vans released a modified version of one of their most famous kicks, complete with a flannel-like material to highlight the flannel fashion trend that dominated the grunge era. Alternate designs were also available and became just as successful. Several pairs of custom Chuck Taylor’s were also produced containing the image of singer, Eddie Vedder, and the group’s stick man logo. Hardcore fans and shoe collectors everywhere certainly got their hands a few of these.
Hey, it’s not like these guys put their name on a pair of Adidas.
Everyone’s favorite outspoken guitar shredder has a well-known affinity for hunting. He sings about it, brings it up in every interview, has written books about it, and is hated by animals rights organizations everywhere. What else does the Motor City Madman have to do show his love for the controversial sport? Why, sell his own ammunition of course! Ted Nugent’s branded bullets sport the phrase “killer ammo for serious hunters” along with a picture of Nugent in front of the American flag. How ‘Murican is that? His ammo supports a variety of firearms so NRA members everywhere can rejoice. Sweaty Teddy guarantees his cartridges can take down any animal of the wild. Wow, just what the doctor ordered!
The Misfits sit just behind KISS with whoring themselves out with their merchandise. The horror punk icons are not above putting their namesake and signature “fiend skull” logo on virtually anything. Several musicians and companies will rock their own modified spin of the logo to pay homage to the band but Jerry Only and company aren’t shy to make a buck in the most peculiar ways. The most bizarre I’ve seen is motocross wear approved by the painted rockers. How extreme do you have to be to speed down a dirt track on your bike, sporting threads that show your appreciation for the fiend club? The outfit includes pants, shirt, gloves, and even a skull printed helmet where the driver wearing it hopes to scare off the competition.
The topic of Misfits merchandise was so hot that former front man, Glenn Danzig, unsuccessfully sued the band in 2014 for unpaid cuts of licensing deals he felt was owed to him.
Everyone knows or at least has seen The Rolling Stones’ famous red tongue logo. In the days before owning a cell phone case containing the name or image of your favorite band was enough, there was a time where the only phone that could be used was attached to the wall. In the 1980s, the band released a special edition home telephone where the receiver was the bright red tongue. To make a call, you pulled the tongue out of the mouth and dialed away. Not bad as a novelty item I suppose but still pretty goofy. I don’t know about you, but I know the last thing I think of when I hear the name of the band who wrote “Brown Sugar” is a gimmicky telephone. To be fair, this product would have been near perfect if something like monophonic covers of “Street Fighting Man” or “Time Is On My Side” were available as ringtones.