Roxanne Tellier: Rock n Roll Hair

Roxanne“Let them brush your rock and roll hair.” You knew it when you saw it, a great mop of hair that just screamed “I wanna rock!” From pompadours to mop tops, mullets to shags, spiked, layered, tossed like a salad or greased back in a duckass – for the Baby Boomers, the hair was the thing.

No other adornment seemed to cause as much anger in parents or conservatives during the 60’s and 70’s as kids with long hair. What began as personal expression appeared to trigger some deep fears in our elders.

I blame The Beatles and their ‘mop tops.’ Pre-Beatlemania, men mainly favored shorter hair, arranged in a pompadour, a crew-cut, or the d.a. (also known as the Tony Curtis cut.) Now honestly … would you have lost your mind over these guys?

Beatles crew cut

The way you did over these guys?

Beatles Regular

They brought us the music, a cocky attitude, and a look we’d never seen before. It was a thorough and sudden change, a new definition of ‘cool.’  How fast could you grow your hair? If you could get your hands on a Beatles wig, you could jump the gun. The Lowell Toy Manufacturing Corp. of New York was licensed to make “the only AUTHENTIC Beatle Wig.” My mum worked at The Hudson’s Bay back then, and got her picture in the Edmonton Journal, modeling one. Wish I could find that clipping! And if I still had my wig hanging around in the original packaging, it would be worth a fair bit of money.

Beatle Day Wig

That singular haircut was the foundation upon which rock n roll hair was built. Even the pop stars of today – Justin Bieber anyone? – wear some variation of the timeless cut. Whether you wore it shorter or longer, your hair was the flag that defined you and your generation as hip and cool. And you drove your parents crazy.

Beatle Hairdos

Guys and girls alike wanted to be like the Beatles.  Some took up guitar, others just adopted the look. Everyone grew their hair. Schools began issuing regulations about hair length. And hair just kept on growing …

Some people really, really didn’t like guys growing long hair. One now famous incident: “in 1965, (Mitt) Romney came back to Cranbrook, his all-male private school in Michigan, and noticed that John Lauber, a new student a year younger than him, was wearing his hair bleached blond and hanging down over one eye. Lauber generally got teased for looking different and seeming gay, though he was not out. Romney’s friend at the time, Matthew Friedemann, recalls that Romney said of Lauber, “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” Romney kept complaining, and a few days later led a “prep school posse” that “came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.” (

Anyone who rocked long hair had to be careful on road trips; small towns, especially, weren’t partial to them dirty hippies. Reaction could range from being pointedly ignored, to being asked to leave town, or even to being physically attacked.  Men with long hair couldn’t get into Disneyland until the late 60’s – long haired freaky people need not apply!

Hair hairLong hair was also the trademark of hippies. You were defined as either a straight or a freak by the length of your hair. And hippies, with their really long hair, and funky clothes, could easily be targeted by cops and others straights. After all, everyone knew that all hippies were drug users, right?

By the time the musical “HAIR” burst onto Broadway in 1967, North America had embraced a new look. There was no going back. What had started as a haircut had developed into a counter culture.   This was about freedom of expression. This was about draft dodging. And most importantly, this was about attracting the opposite sex.

In 1970, David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, recorded “Almost Cut My Hair.” The lyrics captured how integral long hair had become to those who put personal expression and nonconformance above even their own safety.  Crosby agonizes over cutting his hair, but then decides not to. He’ll let his freak flag fly, even though, “It increases my paranoia, like looking into a mirror and seeing a police car.”

Punk hair screamed rebellion in 1975. In a short period of time, hair was shorn, shaved, tie-dyed and lacquered. Who can forget the first time they saw someone on the streets who looked like this?

Boy Mohawk

or this …

Girl Mohawk

But we got past that phase … and straight into an era before global warming was an issue, and any self-respecting rocker used at least a can of hairspray per night to keep their massive hair in order. Your hair might be short or long, but by God – it would be big!

Big Hair

Sinéad O’Connor went the other way entirely. “I don’t feel like me unless I have my hair shaved. So even when I’m an old lady, I’m going to have it.” Her lack of hair became a rebellion against marketing women as commodities, not talents.

No Hair

The years passed, and those of us who came of age in the glory days got older. Inevitably, we went gray, or lost our hair to age or illness. Some had cut their hair to fit into the Establishment they’d sneered about before having families. Some shaved their heads rather than deal with upkeep.  The generation that said “hope I die before I get old,” suddenly had to deal with … all the joys of getting older.

And their kids, bless ‘em, weren’t so married to the idea of “hair as identity.” Now the kids were into tattoos, and piercings.  And we were just as outraged as our parents had been when we first shook our mops and sang “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Tatooed Hair

At least this time around, you can’t blame The Beatles.

The Hall of Shame – Worst Rock n Roll Hair

Michael Bolton clung to his long hair well past its due date.

Bolton Hair

Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister, made an art out of looking completely over the top.

Twisted  Hair

Adam Duritz, of Counting Crows commits a hair crime. Is that you, Sideshow Bob?

Sideshow Hair

Mike Score, Flock of Seagulls … And no one can forget – try as they might – this lovely ‘do.

Seagull Hair


Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king – and that was just yesterday’s to do list. Tomorrow she starts on the letter Q.  


One Response to “Roxanne Tellier: Rock n Roll Hair”

  1. Unfortunately, thanks to wankers who actually thought Flock of Seagulls had a semblance of talent, I remember not only the hairdo but the music. Friggin’ MTV, anyway.

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