As a curious musician with short hair, I have always wondered why there so many musicians with long hair. A few minutes into my research to find the answer, I realized I’m not the only one who wants answers. After a few hours researching why musicians keep long hair, here are four reasons I found
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1. Long hair is associated with classical music
Musicians having long hair dates back to the 19th century. And it’s quite a fascinating story.
Classical music has been in existence since the 1750s. However, it started gaining a lot of traction in the 19th century when talented composers like Beethoven and Mozart came on the scene.
In no time, classical music became very popular, and at that time, the elites and intellectuals in society were the ones that listened to classical music the most. Every classical music concert was filled with intellectuals and high-profile people in society.
In the 19th century, the standard hairstyle among intellectuals was long hair. Most of the elites and intellectuals at that time had long hair. And since these are the category who listen to classical music the most and go to classical music concerts, people started referring to classical music as “long-hair music.”
The musicians also felt the need to fit in with the intellectuals. So many of them started leaving their hair to grow to have long hair. Those who couldn’t grow their hair started wearing long hair wigs.
I’m sure if you are familiar with two of the most popular classical music composers of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig Van Beethoven, then you probably know this as well.
Mozart wore a long hair powdered wig which was common among the elites of the society at that time. Beethoven didn’t wear a wig, but he left his hair to grow long.
2. To go against social norms
In the late 1940s through to the 1950s, there was a cultural shift in America when it comes to appearance. What was this shift?
Men had to have short hair. This gradually became the standard, and men without short hair were looked down upon. So men who had really long hair had no option but to cut it if they wanted to fit in. And, of course, many did cut them off.
So, in the 50s n the 50s, most men had their hair cut short.
And then there came musicians.
Classic rock and metal bands back in the day always identified themselves as outsiders. They portrayed this image in their lyrics, how loud the music was, and most importantly, how they look. It was an excellent branding strategy adopted by these bands to go against social norms so that they get noticed.
Band members growing long hair was part of their strategy to go against the social norm. In a society where all the men had short hair, having long hair as a musician was definitely a way to stand out and buck the system.
Bands like The Beatles, and Pink Floyd, and artists like Led Zeppelin pioneered this movement in the 60s. And almost every band in that era followed this trend till it got to a point where it nearly became the standard for musicians to have long hair.
This trend never went away — not completely. Up until now, we still have many bands, especially classic rock bands, with all members having long hair. However, it’s not as standard as it once was.
Now it really doesn’t matter if you choose to keep your hair long or short; you’ll still be accepted in a band as long as you have the necessary skills.
3. Long Hair is Great for Headbanging
For those who don’t know what headbanging is, this is when musicians or music listeners wave their heads back and forth to the rhythm of the music they are playing or listening to. If you have been to any rock music concert or watched metalheads perform, you’re definitely familiar with this.
It’s a cool trick that musicians use to enhance their stage performance, and mostly you’ll see them headbanging during a guitar solo or during the intense part of their performance.
Headbanging has been around since the ’70s, and it was made popular by a heavy metal band known as Motorhead. Right now, it has been adopted by many punk, rock, and metal bands.
Regardless of your hairstyle, whether you are bald, have a mohawk, or a crew cut, you can headbang just fine as a musician. However, long hair simply makes headbanging so awesome.
Waving your head back and forth with your hair flying in the sky as you play an instrument is just so cool — looks way better than headbanging with short or bald hair. Many musicians leave their hair to grow so they can have a great headbang.
4. Girls love musicians with long hair
Being a musician in itself comes along with many benefits. One of them is the fact that you’ll get a lot of attention from girls — especially if you are very popular and a successful musician.
Having long hair even attracts more women as a musician. But why is that?
Well, having long hair shows that you care about how you look, and girls love men who care about their appearance. Having long, well-kept hair requires you to consistently keep it clean and apply the necessary hair products to keep it nourished.
Psychologically, this tells women that if you can take care of your hair that well, then you can take care of them as well.
Also, long hair shows women you are more confident than someone with short hair. As I mentioned earlier, having long hair meant you are not conforming to social norms. Having the courage to go against The Establishment is something women find very attractive.
Having long hair in a society where most men have short hair makes you stand out from the rest. And being unique in a good way is something some women find very attractive.
This is the main reason why some musicians choose to grow long hair — to attract more girls.
5. Long hair makes you look like a professional and serious musician
For many years, many popular musicians have grown long hair. And this has become the identity of musicians. It is much more believable when you tell people you are a musician and you have long hair.
Just as engineers, construction workers, and technicians are identified with helmets and safety boots, having a long as a musician is a way to let people identify you as a musician.
So if you’re a rock or metal musician and want to be easily identified as one, growing long hair is definitely something worth considering. Essentially, you’re tapping an identity for musicians that is well-established in society.
6. Long hair protects musician’s ears from noise
This isn’t entirely one of the reasons why musicians grow long hair. However, it’s definitely a benefit they get from their long hair.
Long hair covers the ear and this help reduces the sound decibels hitting the musician’s ear. As you may already know, musicians are exposed to high sound pressure levels and noise especially when they are performing on stage.
And this can eventually lead to hearing loss. The hair helps reduce the harsh treble sound hitting their ear and makes the sound muffled. And this protects their ear from potentially damaging.
Does having long hair make you a better musician?
Having long hair has nothing to do with your musicianship. Being an excellent musician has nothing to do with your hairstyle.
Ed Sheeran, for instance, has captured many hearts with his lyrics, voice, and music. But he has short hair. There are many other successful musicians and instrument players with short hair or even bald.
I must admit that having long hair automatically gives you that celebrity look which can be a plus. But the most important thing is your musical skill.
Should You Grow Your Hair as a Musician?
If long hair fits your image, brand, or personality, then you should consider growing your hair long.
Having long hair is quite common in some genres than others. Artists and bands in classic rock and heavy metal and most of the subgenres under rock music have long hair.
To be easily identified as a Rockstar or a metalhead, it’s a good idea to grow long hair. You’ll fit in more if you have long hair.
Also, if you play an instrument like the guitar, having long hair creates an impression that you are a good guitar player. You’ll make a good impression at auditions just by your appearance before you even play your instrument. So that’s also something worth considering.
However, if short hair looks great on you and fits your image, then you shouldn’t grow long hair. You should have an appearance that makes you feel good and confident.
At the end of the day, what matters most is your skill as a musician and how you can capture your audience with your lyrics, instrument, or persona.
In summary, musicians keep long hair because they want to stand out from the rest, it’s great for headbanging, and girls love musicians with long hair.
You should consider having long hair if you play in a rock band if you want to fit into most rock and metal bands. However, in this day and age, it’s not a requirement. What matters most is your skill as a musician and not your hairstyle.
Hi, I’m Raymond. A keyboard player, music producer, and writer. And I’m also the founder of this blog. As someone who has been working with several audio and music equipment and different musicians for many years, my goal is to answer all your questions on music and equipment, as well as the latest music software and technology. For more info, check out my about me page