• Frank Sinatra was known for his clean-cut, slicked-back style. 'The enduring popularity of this look lies in its simplicity and ease of recreation,' says editorial hairdresser Peter Gray. 'The popularity of gels and waxes changes with fashion, but the slick-back has become a staple.'
  • 'Elvis and his pompadour became a symbol of sexuality, rock and roll and rebellion,' says Peter. 'The use of wax as a styling product resulted in a look that was the polar opposite of the clean, preppy hair of the time.'
  • Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes first popularized the gravity-defying bouffant that was later immortalized by Amy Winehouse. Jokes Peter, 'This goes to show that just when you thought a style belonged to drag shows and pastiche, it can be reborn as an iconic look!'
  • Amy Winehouse's beehive took the The Ronettes' 1960s look to even greater heights.
  • The Beatles' mop top haircut embodied the counter culture of the 1960s; it was the opposite of the popular waxed and rockabilly styles,' Peter says. 'Brian Epstein, who managed the group, understood the power of image in marketing and encouraged all the members to wear similar pageboy cuts and suits.'
  • Mick Jagger's heavily layered men's shag was the polar opposite of the Beatles mop top cuts, according to Peter, who says that the look was part of a 'very smart marketing plan employed by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who wanted the band to be the antithesis of the Beatles in look and attitude.'
  • Debbie Harry's platinum hue, which evolved into a two-tone look, was the perfect combination of punk rock and pretty.
  • 'Jimi Hendrix started out looking like a version of Bob Dylan, and then his roller set and combed-out afro brought blues music culture and black America to an international audience,' says Peter. 'His psychedelic style was already happening, but his connection to the masses popularized what has become an enduring style sported by Pam Grier, Diana Ross and a young Michael Jackson.'
  • Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithful, Kate Moss and Kirsten Dunst have all sported the Nico: timeless minimalism. 'This look requires hair to be in great condition to ensure that 'carefree' doesn't look like neglect,' warns Peter.
  • 'Patti Smith's androgynous image was host to a textured/neglected version of the Nico,' says Peter. 'Yet, it has a more grungy aesthetic that has permeated our collective consciousness.'
  • 'Stevie Nicks' signature heavy, choppy bang with irregular, grown-out layers was a Dickensian, London street-urchin look similar to Patti Smiths' ... plus a bunch of chiffon,' says Peter. 'The Olsen twins regularly rock this look.'
  • According to Peter, Grace Jones' androgynous flat top was inspired by GI haircuts. 'This is a truly iconic style that has transcended fashion and permeated the public consciousness,' he says.
  • 'Phil Oakley's asymmetric style has launched thousands of imitators,' says Peter. 'Being brave and individual is a prerequisite for this as a haircut!'
  • Joan Jett's short, choppy layers and just-rolled-out-of-bed styling are the quintessential rock and roll look. According to Peter, this non-cut was heavily referenced by the grunge movement of the 1990s.
  • According to Peter, Tina Turner's spiky mass of hair launched crimper sales, which continue to wax and wane every couple of seasons.
  • Madonna's bleached-blonde curls brought Marilyn Monroe's classic style to a whole new generation.
  • 'Sinead O’Connor's shaved head is as far as hair minimalism can be taken,' says Peter.

Sirens of Style

Shags, pompadours, afros and bouffants may have been created by hairstylists, but they became popular due to the musicians who rocked them. Many music icons have become just as known for the songs they sang as the images they projected, and many of the hair cuts, colors and styles they wore have entered the public consciousness and inspired trendsetters for generations. From runways to magazine covers to the new crop of artists climbing the charts, references to these iconic looks are everywhere.

“What makes a hairstyle on a musician amazing is its ability to become emblematic of the musician, the music he or she makes, and the era of pop culture social change he or she represents,” says renowned editorial hairdresser Peter Gray, whose work has appeared in Vogue (U.S., Italian and British editions), Harper’s Bazaar and AnOther Magazine, along with ad campaigns for Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Lanvin and runways ranging from Hermes and Badgley Mischka to Betsey Johnson and DSquared. “The style becomes iconic when it enters our visual vocabulary and becomes a perennial source of inspiration to hairdressers and the public alike.”

With Peter’s help, we’ve created a slideshow of some of the musicians whose hairstyles have truly come to define an era...
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