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A History of Rock n’ Roll Hairstyles for Men

What’s the most iconic rock n’ roll coif of all time? The shaggy mop-top? The pompadour quiff? Or, god forbid, the Mohawk? There isn’t one particular hairstyle that screams out, “Hey, I’m a rock star”! As it turns out, there have been many. Scanning back through the decades, the variations are as diverse as the music itself. Let’s take a stroll through the ages…

The King’s Ducktail

Elvis set the mold for eternity. While his contemporaries were wearing cropped, military-inspired ‘dos (think flat-tops and crew cuts), Mr. Presley was blazing a trail for the greaser standard. Start with an outlandish pile of straight up Vaseline (substitute pomade for the weak of heart), slick back the sides, swoop it over the top and keep that comb handy in your back pocket for constant touch-ups. And don’t say Chuck Berry did it first.

The Fab Four and Their Scruff

The Beatles popularity seemed to grow with the length of their locks. Even the eyelash- grazing style they sported during their breakout year of 1962 was considered almost criminally eccentric by older generations. The mushroom mop-top made the young women swoon and had the young men eschewing trims with vengeance for years to come. The Three Stooges may have pioneered the bowl cut, but it’s the Beatles’ name on the Halloween wig, after all.

The Many Faces of Bowie

Ziggy Stardust. Aladdin Sane. From mod London dandy to sparkly space creature; from posh, couture fashion plate to neo-noir throwbacks, this man has done it all. While David Bowie has no qualms admitting he pulled his bizarre looks directly from fashion magazines, it was the fans who mirrored themselves in their idols’ image. Flocks of teenagers sporting flaming orange crops and elaborate face paint lined streets from city to suburb. It was no accident. We’re talking about an extremely self-actualized and calculating man. Pop stars have been transforming from folkie to freaky ever since.

They Don’t Call it ‘Hair Metal’ for Nothing…

The aftermath of glam and punk grew a strange hybrid, destined for punch lines and hordes of screaming women – yep, arena rock reigned supreme for almost a decade. One could list dozens of similar-looking bands, with similar sounds and identical Jack Daniels-soaked lifestyles. But Motley Crue took the ratted-out motif patterned after the New York Dolls and made it their own. Hairspray. More hairspray. Back combing your bleached and black-bottle dye jobs could take hours. Primping is paramount and the ladies, evidently, loved it. Maybe it was because they could share cosmetics with their lovers.

About Jim Chaffee

Jim Chaffee, a freelance writer and hairstylist, missed all the best decades (in his opinion). He settles for blogging about them, along with anything related to styling and men’s hair loss.