In 1966 Elvis would be an inspiration for our Wonder Workshop T-shirts of the 60’s. We began to make an ELVIS montage from all kinds of sources stuck down onto a sheet of plywood. We made a wooden frame and later used rhinestones around the edges with a stained-glass “KING” at the top. As we accumulated more images we would stick them over the existing photographs until we were certain there were no more better options. ELVIS was the only white artist who, inspired by the black music he grew up with, could out-shine any performing singer in history with a unique combination of Sex & Rock&Roll. These qualities, with his subtle romanticism, his convincing down-home honesty and this wonderful musical virtuosity, would be the first main influence on culture in Great Britain in the 50’s and would give this teenage country a lift after a long period of post-second world war austerity. ELVIS, before the pre-US Army period, established the beginnings of Teenage Rebel Culture that not only changed the face of Art, Fashion and Music in the USA, it began an affinity in England which evolved with the rise of 60’s Beat in London and Merseyside culminating with bands such as the Beatles, Stones, Who, Yardbirds etc., The power of Rock'N'Roll in England transformed life very quickly for young people. From 1956 to 1962, the Teddy Boy fraternity, the biker gangs, the Pop-Art modernists all felt the heat of the volcano and created a teenage culture in England that fired up the Merseyside and South London groups to form the British Invasion led by The Beatles. Strange how the sub-culture is always chasing it's tail, The British Invasion swept across the USA all the way back to Memphis. In August 1965, The Beatles met Elvis at Graceland. ELVIS T-shirts were our new 'blast from the past' - we designed 10 ELVIS t-shirts in all. The most celebrated was our 'Spotlight' design in 1970, in fact our second ELVIS T-shirt. The image was based on a promotional photograph for the ELVIS movie “Jailhouse Rock”. We photographed it from the pages of a Film Preview Annual then made drawings from the photographs incorporating the spotlight and the title ELVIS. The first prints had music notes around the image but later we added Swarovski rhinestones - loads of them. It soon became a popular T-shirt at Paradise Garage and was photographed for numerous magazines throughout Europe. I wore a sleeveless version for the summer of ’71 with green leopardskin jeans and cricket boots. An amazing photograph was sent to us from California of ELVIS and his girlfriend in Las Vegas - she was wearing the ELVIS spotlight Tee. This was also one of the designs Victoria & Albert Museum curator Michael Regan choose for The FABRIC OF POP exhibition in 1974. The exhibits were requisitioned for the permanent collection. From 'The T-Shirt Book' by Alice Hiller and John Gordon, Ebury Press, London 1988: "Wonder Workshop T-Shirts distilled the flamboyance of the early 70's. Artists John Dove and Molly White started the label in 1971. Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan and Paul McCartney were photographed in state of the art shirts like "Pin-up Girls" and "My Baby Loves The Western Movies". Their hand-printed designs had a major influence on T-Shirt graphics. Sophisticated prints were realised through a pioneering use of photographic screens and photo-montage techniques".

The coming of ELVIS in the mid-fifties is one of the most important events in the history of the world. Rock’n’Roll, Pop-Art, Fashion and Teenage Style all changed with the coming of ELVIS. The Memphis State College performance in the summer of ’54 of "That's All Right" and the non-stop play of the SUN records demo on WHBQ radio lit the blue-touch paper of the fireworks to come. This was his first of many recording sessions with Sam Philips at The SUN Recording Studio. Imagine - this young white singer, brash, handsome, parading in a pink suit - wears make-up and drives a Cadillac. In the spring of 1954 Elvis Presley first performed at the Memphis State College's Student Association that were sponsoring a blood-bank drive and needed an entertainer. The crowd gathered during the 90 minute gig until the auditorium was packed out - Elvis was a sensation. He is casual, soft-spoken, romantic but when he sings to a Rock’N’Roll beat - sotto voce - he shakes like an entranced animal. The girls go wild. His first record is released on 8th. June in 1954. Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips played ELVIS on the radio for the first time and power-played “Thats All Right”. The WHBQ switchboard was blocked immediately with requests. Who is this guy - is he black? Although more than one racist critic wrote up his performance as 'the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos', ELVIS WAS READY. "That's All Right" was written by the great Arthur Crudup, an African American blues Artist who wrote more than a hundred songs including "My Baby Left Me", "Too Much Competition" and "Rock Me Mama".



Although Molly had already established a market for her printed silks and shirts with Libertys and many top London boutiques such as Mr Fish and Countdown, when we tried to raise some interest in our Wonder Workshop T-shirts in 1970, we faced a wall of rejection. In fact, some buyers were disgusted by our 'low art' images. Fortunately Trevor Myles, owner of the World’s End store, Paradise Garage, loved the collection and within a few months we were selling ELVIS T-shirts worldwide as a 70's revival of the 50’s Rock'N'Roll era began to unwind. Since 1968 Molly made sample sweaters with her Mum, made scale drawings on graph paper and had them manufactured by Corgi Hosiery in South Wales. In 1971 she made huge beatnik sweaters with a simplistic version of the spotlight T-shirt and others with ELVIS song titles knitted into the fronts;’Don’t Be Cruel’, All Shook Up’, Now or Never’ and ‘Tutti Frutti’. The great 60's photographer Harri Peccinotti made some wonderful photographs of Molly's knitwear that appeared in the glossy magazines - 19, Honey, Observer, Vogue and L'uomo Vogue. Unfortunately this was in October just before the Paradise Garage Massacre - when McLaren and Westwood took over 430 Kings Road. Some of the stock was stolen before we could retrieve it but we soon found other outlets in France, Italy and the USA. A few months later, we opened a retail at 93 Golbourne Road, the crass end of Portobello Road Market where we expected to plant some roots of authenticity for our Rock'N'Roll designs but the street culture was a Teddy Boy revival that hung on to those Edwardian classics of Mid-West American tailoring - "My Baby Loves The Western Movies Bang-Bang- peeoow!". We used the Elvis wallpaper for the walls of the stall. We were soon joined by Ted Caroll when he started his marvellous Rock&Roll vintage shop - Rock-On. Ted had collected a fantastic bulk of original Blues and Rock&Roll vinyl including a couple of thousand London/American 45's still in their original boxes. Ted brought in the entire Rock&Roll fraternity - Ted says he remembers "such 'faces' as Jimmy Page, Lemmy from Hawkwind (later Motorhead), ex-Pretty Thing Twink, Lenny Kay and Malcolm McLaren. All of whom rubbed shoulders nonchalantly with mini-bus-loads of Welsh teddy boys and ageing French 'Blouson Noir'. Brian Eno came by to check the place out, but didn't buy anything". We were surprised. We knew Eno loved Do-Wop and Ted's collection was second to none. The clothes we were selling were too far out for Golbourne Road. We soon turned it in and left our Elvis wallpaper to Ted and 'Rock-On'.

In his book Ted writes - "John Dove and Molly White of Wonder Workshop sold their range of unique screen printed T-shirts from an even smaller unit directly opposite the Rock On stall and we enjoyed the shared benefit of the Elvis Presley wallpaper that they had designed, printed and put up on the wall adjoining our two stalls. John and Molly also sold their wares at the legendary Paradise Garage in the trendier environs of Kings Road, (before Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood took over). When John and Molly moved out I expanded into their space and the Elvis wallpaper was now officially part of Rock On". We produced our ELVIS GOLD T-shirt printed on silk with gold foil on the gold suit. (The guy standing with ELVIS is the Hollywood tailor Nudie who made the gold suit). The original photograph was given to us by the Daily Mirror when we worked on drawings for IPC publications in 1967. All three T-shirts eventually found favour with the fashion media and appeared in fashion magazine photo-shoots throughout Europe. “Iains” in Greenwich Village New York was our main stockist outside of Europe from 1969 - 1974 although our Paris distributor Colette Neville Pret-a-porter was driving our workshop production by then - selling mostly in France and Germany. By 1972 Granny Takes A Trip were selling in London, New York and Los Angeles. We also sold direct to Detroit and Dallas.