Throughout the years popular music has had dramatic effects on worldwide culture. From politics to philosophy, music has influenced generations of people. Perhaps its most wide-spread and deeply felt influence has been in the world of fashion. Heavy metal music was especially instrumental in defining an entire subculture with its look and its hairstyles.
From its inception rock and roll has always conveyed a sense of freedom and rebellion in style. The Beatles were "dangerous" in their funny clothes and mop-top haircuts and, as the genre progressed, the manes and locks of rock artists grew longer and longer. By the time the '70s rolled around long hair was not only the status quo for rock groups: it was mandatory. As the music got heavier and louder (with such early metal acts as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath leading the way) hairstyles were required by unwritten law to reflect that same devil-may-care rebellion.
Heavy metal enjoyed its most successful explosion in the 1980s, as a proliferation of radio and MTV-friendly bands began to dominate the airwaves. A new sub-genre of heavy metal was invented: hair metal. The hairstyles were often big, teased-out manes that were held high with lots of hairspray and other products.
The look, often borrowed from early '70s glam-rock acts like the New York Dolls was often criticized by heavy metal fans as being "fake" and distracting from the music. One '70s hairstyle associated with hard rock and heavy metal was the "feathered" cut. Bands like Poison, Cinderella and Motley Crue reached the height of their popularity (and hair) in the 1980s and were often slagged for looking more like women than true rockers. Krimping was also a popular thing for men to do with their locks and the biggest bands of the '80s were often seen sporting the krimped, or waved, look.
Through the years, one hairstyle has come to symbolize heavy metal more than any other: the mullet. The mullet is the working man's attempt to look like their rocking counterparts while being acceptable in a 9 to 5 world. The mullet is characterized by a short, close-cropped look in the front with longer hair in the back; usually the ears are visible when one wears a mullet. Often the joke was heard: "business up front, party in the back!" The mullet was a big sensation as '80s pop metal rose in popularity. Even mainstream people (those who didn't listen to heavy metal) were wearing the mullet. The mullet was a symbol of someone's devotion to the hard rock and heavy metal lifestyle and it allowed the wearer to express his or her involvement in the metal scene. Overall, it was the most popular heavy hairstyle for men through the '80s and into the '90s. To this day one can still see traces of the mullet in many hairstyles. It is one of those trends that never seems to go away.