Specs That Rock: Eyewear Fashion in Music


Buddy Holly’s astronomic rise and tragic fall is one of the most well-known stories in music. His impact on rock and contemporary music cannot be understated. In fact, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is of the firm belief that “Rock and roll as we know it wouldn’t exist without Buddy Holly”, despite the fact that he only ever achieved one number one hit. This year, had he not died in a plane crash in 1959, Buddy Holly would be 80 years old. In celebration of the greatest bespectacled man in music, we’re sharing our favourite speccy musicians.

Elvis Presley

Elvis, perhaps the single most iconic figure in musical history, and rock’s greatest mystery has been a trend setter since 1956. To many people, Elvis is remembered as the young, attractive, boy-next-door who made the girls go wild with a swing of his hips during his performance of Hound Dog on the Ed Sullivan Show. This nice, young southern boy, the sort who said “yes, sir, no, sir”, was the poster child for a musical phenomenon that “corrupted the youth of America”.

Far from those heady days at Sun Records, “The King” as he was later known, had reinvented himself with a new look. Along with an outrageously gawdy white suit and cape, The King was adorned with gold aviator shades. Today, parodies of the King are not complete without this iconic eyewear.

Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison is another legend of rock and roll. He was best known during the late ’50s and ’60s, where he had hits with ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Crying’.

During the early stages of his career, you wouldn’t have thought he needed glasses, but in 1963, a curious twist of fate turned his glasses into a fashion sensation. While on tour with The Beatles in 1963, Roy Orbison left his preferred corrective glasses on a plane. With no other choice, he was forced to wear his thick-rimmed, prescription Ray Ban Wayfarers for the entire tour. It was an incident that he considered at the time embarrassing, but it was one that created one of the most defining looks in modern music. A look that persists in rock stars to this day. Speaking of The Beatles…

John Lennon

The Beatles would go through many incarnations over the years, both setting and bucking fashion trends for decades. In those early years, it was the hair rather than the glasses that defined the Fab Four, but over time that began to change. Today, the most enduring fashion symbols of the band are John Lennon’s famously tiny specs.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that by the time he was assassinated in 1980 he was so near-sighted as to be considered legally blind.

Elton John

Considered by many to be a national treasure, Elton John has enjoyed an illustrious career with smash hits such as “Candle In The Wind”, “Your Song”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” in duet with George Michael. Over the last 40 years, he’s sold more than 250 million records, and probably worn just as many pairs of glasses. In his early days, he was known to wear some very elaborate styles indeed!

Ozzy Osbourne

Heavy metal singer-turned-Reality TV star, Ozzy Osbourne is the Godfather of Heavy Metal. His career kicked off as the singer for Black Sabbath. The heavy metal band achieved massive success in the early 1970s before he went solo in 1979. Over the past 40 years, he has been accused of being a negative influence on teenagers, of glorifying Stan and biting the head off a bat live on stage. Today, his signature look of black shades, black clothes and black hair are staples of heavy metal music culture.


Like his band’s name (previously The Hype, and Feedback), Bono has gone through several fashion incarnations over the years. His signature shades with yellow or red tints have been around since 2004, along with the release of their 11th album, which featured the song, “Vertigo”.

In addition to his unique taste in eyewear, Bono is also one of the world’s biggest philanthropists, donating millions of dollars to charities all over the world and organising fund raising efforts for good causes.

Kanye West

Believe it or not, the Shutter Shades worn by Kanye West in the video for his song, Stronger, date back all the way to the 1950s. The pair worn by West in the video were designed by Alain Mikli, who was inspired by their brief comeback into style during the 1980s. Back then, they were popular in music videos and, notably, upon the face of wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage. Kanye West has a huge influence on fashion today, thanks to his line of shoes and musical success. So while for now we have his shutter shades, what does the future of musical eyewear have in store?

At Eyesite, we have a great range of the latest and greatest eyewear styles. Visit us in store to check out our range of prescription glasses and sunglasses.