The Hoosier Hair Gods—Because Mullets Are Back, Guys

Indiana’s John Mellencamp sings at Walter Reed Army Medical Center at a free performance for wounded warriors, family and staff April 27, 2007.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Dudes should take

a long, hard look in the mirror before cheating on their stylist across county lines (salons outside of Marion County are open, while Indianapolis is eyeing a possible June 1 return). Why? Men might have a head start on the latest hair trend: long and shaggy. Neck-grazing locks were making a comeback for guys even before the coronavirus gave them little choice. Tanya Foster, co-owner of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Salon, one of the area’s trendsetters, has been watching stars like Blake Shelton and Bradley Cooper let it go and thinks regular guys can pull it off. Even mullets are cool again. “It says, ‘I don’t care about my hair,’ and that itself is stylish to me,” she says. For inspiration, the best place to look is the stage. Which Hoosier rocker could be your hair god?

John Mellencamp. If you have a natural side part, some curl, and a split-rail fence to lean against, the Coug offers several lengths to choose from: the thick feathered bangs of his American Fool days, the heavier flop over one eye of the Uh-Huh era, and the full Fabio mane from The Lonesome Jubilee late ’80s.

Best hair lyric: “He’s got a greasy hair, greasy smile / He said, Lord, this must be my destination” (“Pink Houses”)

Henry Lee Summer. Do you wish you had a girl’s long, golden style, like Summer’s? It will take both time—his hardcore mullet flowed well past his shoulders—and a curling iron, because the short bangs appear to be styled with heat, then feathered. The party in the back was simply brushed until it reached peak frizz.

Michael Jackson. He wore a wig in the latter years. But in the Billie Jean era, the King of Pop was as sexy as they came with face-kissing Jheri curls and a lone corkscrew in the front. These days, that curl would have its own Twitter account. You might need a perm—and some pomade—for this.

Best hair lyric: “Old folks judge you by the clothes you wear / They’d swear you’re a hippy if you have long hair” (“People Make the World Go ‘Round”)

Axl Rose. Reportedly, the Lafayette kid was kicked out of his house when he was 16 for refusing to cut his hair. But no one ever threw a bra onstage for a crew cut. About this classic rocker vibe, take it from the ladies—the long, pin-smooth look might appear carefree, but if you have any natural texture, you’ll need a straightening iron. Add a bandanna when it’s greasy.

Best hair lyric: “Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place / Where as a child I’d hide” (“Sweet Child o’ Mine”)

Shannon Hoon. The Blind Melon lead singer was the pretty boy of the alt-rock ‘90s with his free-spirited, ultra-long, all-one-length hair parted down the middle, pretty much like the male Alanis Morissette. The waves worked either greasy and stringy or blown out and tucked behind his ears.

Best hair lyric: “And while he’s peeking out / Through his hair he hides the pain / Till that Lennon song comes along” (“Drive”)

Rusty Redenbacher. A fixture on the local music scene for 25 years, Redenbacher and his dreads have gone on national tours with his bygone band Birdmen of Alcatraz. NUVO once referred to The Mudkids singer as “aka, the dreadlocked guy at Northside News” in reference to the SoBro store where he worked. Beware: Dreads aren’t low-maintenance until they grow out for a couple years.

Redenbacher (second from right) with the Last IV.John Hiatt. The legendary singer-songwriter is 68 now and doesn’t have as much hair as he used to. But you better believe he wore a gentleman’s mullet in the 1980s, cleanly combed back on the top and neatly curled at the base of the neck.

Best hair lyric: “He kept his boogers in his desk he wore a necktie / And he never washed his hair / You wished he wasn’t there” (“The Night That Kenny Died”)

Vess Ruhtenberg. The longtime guitarist has made the rounds with his own Indy-based bands and national acts (most famously, The Lemonheads), all while keeping up with a just-messy-enough shag of long layers. Want it? Learn to cut it yourself, like he does.