The Beatlemania that took over America five decades ago was truly amazing. Many people like to think that it was because of the Beatles’ groundbreaking music. Or, maybe it was due to their rebellious personalities. After all, they did eat chicken on stage in their early years. Even so, the real reason why they were so popular was probably because of their hair.
The Beatles’ iconic hair immediately took to the youngsters of the Swinging Sixties. The group was even named “the Mop-tops” after their hair. George Harrison coined his own name for the hairstyle—the “Arthur.” According to John Lennon, Jürgen Vollmer was the man who first wore the haircut. He worked as a photographer for the Beatles, and Lennon immediately felt a liking for his “flattened-down hairstyle with a fringe in the back.” Paul McCartney, then Harrison, followed suit. The rest is history.
The extent of the popularity of their hair even led several toy manufacturers to start making mop-top wigs. It got to the point where the Lowell Toy Manufacturing Corp. of New York was contracted to make the only authentic Beatle wig. Many others tried, unsuccessfully, to imitate these wigs. The originals have now become rare collectibles.
As the Beatles grew ever more popular, their obsession with their hair grew likewise. They started to grow moustaches. Huge, handlebar moustaches graced the cover of one of their albums, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles moved from hair that was collar length, over the ears, to significantly longer hair. At the end, they even had full beards.
The Beatles had an immeasurable impact on youth culture all over the western speaking world. When the Beatles first arrived in America, reporters tugged on their hair, asking if they were wearing wigs. Many didn’t take them seriously just because of the hair. In the Sixties, the vast majority of adults considered the moptop scandalous to the highest degree. Youths, in turn, were even more encouraged to keep shaggy...