Hair… “Give me a head full of hair, long beautiful hair”, is the opening lyric from the 1960’s song “Hair” by the Cowsills, written decades before the visual onslaught of MTV that made image and fashion the critical component in a band’s success and in some cases, more important than the music itself.
Join me and the band Parousia as we explore the various hairstyles sported by its members throughout it’s fifteen plus year tenure on the rock music scene.
What is our fascination with hair? Lord knows, we spend far too much time fussing over “what to do with it all” when we are young and then fuss over “how to get more of it back” when we are old.
Perhaps rock music’s obsession with hair began in the early to mid 60’s with The Beatles and their shaggy “moptop” style. Then, years later they went ‘all hippie’, influencing men to be rebellious, grow their hair long to freak-out the “norms” of society.
Men’s hair in the 1970’s was a ‘joy’ to behold. There was a little variation throughout the decade, from long to short, blow-dried and bouffant to spiked and bleached, with “overgrown” being the look that most people associate with the decade.
In the 70’s, for the first time, hairstyling and grooming was no longer simply for women – hair products were now marketed to men, and many musicians used these products to excess.
Mustaches and mutton chops were the norm and in general full, thick facial hair was commonly worn and accepted. It was a very hairy decade!
The 80’s may be known the decade when massive hairdos were an exhaustive production fraught with much planning, product and toil.
Many hairstyles throughout the 80’s became a stereotype associated with heavy metal “hair” bands and new wave bands that wore it long, curly, spiky wavy, gelled, moussed, cut on one side but not the other. Other artists (Billy Joel, Joe Jackson, etc) wore any style of hair that fit with whatever story the song was visually portraying.
Once you had the image down, your band was ready to get out there and compete with thousands of other bands emerging throughout that decade, inspired mostly by music videos and MTV.
In the mid to late 1990’s grunge scraped away the smeared makeup from the face of hair metal-bands, trimmed back its flowing locks and with it, an endless parade of long-haired dudes doing their level best to destroy the ozone layer with hairspray. Oh, and, well, depending on the band, more sex and lots more drugs.
There is no disputing that hair, or a lack thereof, is a game of social politics as well as fashion that often happens in popular culture. Certain styles have come to define their time.