Were Roger McGuinn’s Little Square Shades Actually Pat Boone Licensed Sunglasses?

Roger McGuinn sporting Pat Boone sunglasses with the Byrds, circa 1965

Roger McGuinn sporting Pat Boone sunglasses with the Byrds, circa 1965

One thing hardly anyone knows is that not only were the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn’s little rectangular sunglasses probably made in Japan, they were very likely branded as “Pat Boone” sunglasses. Here are some originals, which folded up into the little pen-style case with Pat’s signature on it. McGuinn nixed the visor. I wonder if he kept the case?

Pat Boone Sunglasses, circa 1960.   The attached visor would fold flush with the frame to fit inside the pen shaped pocket case.

Pat Boone Sunglasses, circa 1960. The attached visor would fold flush with the frame to fit inside the pen shaped pocket case.

One could argue this was the genesis of the Granny Glasses fad of 1965-68. It was also likely the influence of the Victorian/Western Dandy look of a band called the Charlatans on San Francisco hippy fashion played a role.

This is the cover of Love's first album.   Note Arthur Lee front and center wearing diamond shaped granny glasses.

This is the cover of Love’s first album. Note Arthur Lee front and center wearing diamond shaped granny glasses.

Either way appropriate eyewear was needed to go with hippy fashion and mod wraps weren’t going to work as well with fringed jackets and granny dresses. It’s possible those who pioneered the look wore real vintage from 120 years earlier. But soon manufacturers like A Sutain and Foster Grant were all over the trend.

Various 1960s Granny Glasses from Moss Lipow's book Eyewear

Various 1960s Granny Glasses from Moss Lipow’s book Eyewear

But still I wonder… Would the Byrds have even cracked the charts if teens had known McGuinn was wearing Pat Boone sunglasses?

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10 Responses

  1. McGUINN told me he picked them up in a little shop in Greenwich Village and had prescription lenses made for them. I am amazed they were ever associated with Pat Boone in any way. It was McGUINN who made them popular and was copied by everyone from John Lennon to The Monkees.

    • Moss Lipow says:

      You’re right. McGuinn was the first big star to wear them. He should have gotten that licensing deal, though in those days selling out to the Man might have hurt his career.

  2. Jim (alias “Roger”) told me he originally found them in a small shop in Grennwich Village. Him mom told me that Jim had prescription lenses put in, since he needed them for distance visio , so that made them perfect for stagewear. Lennon LOVED them and had a pair made for himself after he met Roger and they spent a few days hanging around together. In 1967, Roger (Jim) started wearing aviator glasses, a habit picked p by his longtime friend Peter Fonda. When Peter did “Easy Rider”, he wore wire frames similar but different from the aviators McGuinn wore on the cover shot of “Notorious Byrd Brothers”, shot in late ’67. When McGuinn took his mother to see the movie, she asked him Why is Peter talking like you and acting like you and cut his hair like yours?” He answered “Because he’s PLAYING me!” It’s a poorly kept secret that Fonda and Hopper based their characters on McGuinn & Crosby.

  3. kenny says:

    where can i buy tiny square sunglasses like the byrds wear or elton johns???

    • Moss Lipow says:

      You can probably find McGuinn type glasses on eBay. Elton’s worn so many it’s probably easy to find something like what he’s worn but harder if you’re looking for a specific piece.

  4. Zenobia says:

    How can I buy the Pat Boone sunglasses. I had a pair in the 1990’s but have’nt seen a pair since. Thanks

    • Moss Lipow says:

      You can probably find some at the Great American Garage Sale, AKA eBay. For some reason I’d like to think Pat Boone, himself, has a large cache in his home. Maybe reach out to his booking agent?

  5. Aaron says:

    I have a pair. How they came to where I found them, I have no idea. All I can say is that I bought them in an auction and thought they were the coolest thing I had ever seen in glasses. After doing some research, which there isnt much to go on, I agree that the real question will be- “do I keep them?” or “do I put them on ebay?”

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