Interview with Greg Link aka Bad Otis Link continued from part 9.
Was Screen Stars Your Brand of Choice?
Really, I hated Screen Stars, but they were the budget promo shirt of the time. The only thing worse than a Screen Stars was a Pakistani import that came in bales like hay. Screen Stars were cheap, so we used them if the bands wanted to save money (or in most cases didn’t have any.) Sometimes they were all you could get, too. There were t-shirt shortages in the ’80s. Companies like Disney were hoarding and buying all that the mills could produce.
I could get nice shirts cheaper than Screen Stars, direct from the mills, no labels – so we printed our labels in the shirt. I learned this from Terry at Faden in the 70s. He did it on promo shirts when he was presenting new shirt ideas to bands, record companies etc. I saw Rick Griffen do it too at super tees in the 70s. I thought it was a cool idea. I’m surprised it took till the 90s for others to catch on. I used to hand sign some too, especially for the store stuff. We did some printed labels for the Peppers fan club and for the Goldenvoice crew shirts too. I have some stashed away. It was easier and less expensive to print the labels than have tags made and sewn in like a lot of others were doing. They were massive print contractors, running dozens of precision screen printing presses 24/7. they put tags in for OP (Ocean Pacific) Village mews, Levis and all of the others they contract printed and supplied. I got them on and off all through the 80s whenever I could afford to buy them.
I had a lot of artist friends designing at OP – one being Scott Angle, he became art director for OP and Village Mews until he went freelance in the 90s. I would send jobs too big for my shop to them and they would hook me up with shirts in return. Most of those companies folded by the 90s when all of the t-shirt manufacturing left the country. I had to buy minimums of 100 dozen. when I couldn’t afford to buy bulk so I would use whatever I could get, Beltons, Screen Stars etc. That is also where I got the Gesim french brand used for a lot of the early Chili Peppers stuff. I got a ton of those at a pretty good price because they had tags and they didn’t want to remove them and re-sew. I think when I left the Peppers, Giant used Gold Coast for a while as their first print house. As I recall The Peppers were Giants’ first band to merchandise. Giant is Warner Bros. run by Peter Lubin, or was when I was around.
My favorite 50/50 was the Beltons, much nicer than Screen Stars. Don’t get me wrong, I printed thousands on Screen Stars. I tried to keep nicer stuff in my stores though and would always print extras on nice shirts. I would even buy shirts at department stores even when they had sales, sometime 3 shirts for 5 bucks. JC Penny, Sears. We would also use the cool blank t-shirts that I bought used by the pound. Those we would custom print and do art on for the stores and for screen set ups. They all came out pretty cool.
- Bad Otis dishes more details in Part 11.