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50 Years Ago: British Headmaster Suspends Students for Having ‘Rolling Stones Haircuts’

Rolling Stones
Terry Disney, Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The Beatles might have made waves with their so-called “mop top” hairstyles, but it didn’t take long for parents and authority figures to get over their shock — and find new tonsorial targets in the Rolling Stones.

The Stones’ more unkempt look made headlines in May of 1964, when the headmaster of a British school sent nearly a dozen students home and ordering them to get haircuts. Quoting a news article on the incident, the book ‘The Rolling Stones: Off the Record‘ notes, “A headmaster ruled yesterday: Beatle haircuts are IN — but Rolling Stones haircuts are OUT. The head, Mr. Donald Thompson, has suspended eleven of his boys from Woodlands Comprehensive School, Coventry, because they wear their hair like Mick Jagger and co. of the Rolling Stones pop group. ‘Long and scruffy,’ Mr. Thompson calls it. But yesterday he said they could return if they cut their hair neatly — like the Beatles.”

The BBC recalls that Thompson’s decree was handed down roughly a month after the president of the U.K.’s National Federation of Hairdressers lambasted the Stones’ haircuts as “the worst” of their peers and added, “One of them looks as if he has a feather duster on his head.”

Appearances can be deceiving, of course. Stones co-founder Brian Jones complained about the response to the band’s image in an interview reprinted in ‘Off the Record,’ pointing out, “I know the image of us is that we are hooligans and unwashed layabouts, but as a matter of fact we’re all very interested in clothes. I would love to be a fashion designer … On stage we dress like we do because we feel more comfortable that way. They say we’re dirty and scruffy because we’ve long hair. Short hair makes you clean, they say, but that doesn’t follow at all.”

Next: Rolling Stones Lineup Changes: A Complete Guide

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