Friday, January 31, 2014

Iconic Style Moment: Nikki Sixx Teases His Hair And Spawns a Decade of Big Hair for Rock Stars and Metal Fans

By Randi Reed

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In honor of Mötley Crüe’s Final Tour announcement this week, we present the iconic moment Nikki Sixx changed the way rock stars, and their fans, did their hair:

Nikki Sixx (far right, in stripes) with London, circa 1979-80. (Photo: unknown, via

In 1980, the Sunset Strip music scene consisted largely of new wave bands wearing buttoned-down shirts, skinny ties, and clean-cut hair (and maybe the occasional flower pot). Their fans followed suit. But the newly-monikered Nikki Sixx, fresh out of the band London and searching for his Mötley Crüe, wasn’t having it. Sixx was into punk and ‘70’s glam rock. He wore spandex and leather pants, and high-heeled boots. Make that huge-heeled boots. 

asily over six feet tall without a bump-up from boots, Nikki Sixx cut an already imposing figure--a larger than life glam punk who, given the right substance or circumstance, might cut you back! (Or at least punch you in the face.) But Sixx wasn’t just street smart. When it came to creating an image for himself and his band, Nikki Sixx was as good as any old-school Hollywood studio—if you imagined Sydney Guilaroff, Bob Mackie, and the Westmores in a brawl with JohnnyThunders and a Ramone or two.

Just exactly when Nikki Sixx decided to tease and spray the hell out of his upside down-blowdried mane isn’t clear. One publicity photo points to his latter London days. One thing is certain: when Sixx took his dyed blue-black coiffure from sheepdog chic to new tease-spray-and-repeat heights, people noticed.

At first, they didn’t get it. But when his peers saw the effect Sixx’s ‘do had on women, they stopped trying to beat him up and decided to join him instead. So did their fans, beginning a nightly ritual of upside-down blowdries and teasing and spraying, section by section, before heading out to the Starwood, Whisky, Roxy, or Rainbow in a final cloud of Aqua Net.

ikki Sixx may not have been the very first metal guy to rat out his hair, but he was the first one they noticed. Helped by Mötley Crüe’s popularity, and later, by videos in heavy rotation on MTV after they were signed to a label, Sixx’s ‘do soon spawned hundreds of other big-haired wannabe rockers. By the late 1980’s, when Mötley had been crowned the loudest, rudest band in the world, every kid watching, male or female, needed a can of Aqua Net aerosol and a small vent brush for teasing with extra hold. 

ock and Roll hair spawned its own industry, and big hair went mainstream. Various salons catering to rock star hair styles opened up in major cities across the U.S., some staffed with comely cutters clad in lingerie that might have been more at home in a music video.  Sprays for “Sprunch” and “Mud” for molding that crashed-at-Axl's look were introduced, along with mousses and gels with far more benefits than Grandma’s old Dippity-Do. Much of it was flammable. Some of it was strong enough to soften the user’s nail polish. But no one cared, as long as they looked cool enough to get backstage.

 London concert flyer, circa 1979-80. Nikki Sixx is far left, second from the bottom. (Photo: unknown, via

Mötley Crüe album photo, Shout at the Devil, 1983. Sixx is far left. (Photo: unknown, via Glogster)
Mötley Crüe, late 1980's. (Photo: unknown, possibly Neil Zlozower, via

Mötley Crüe, Final Tour Press conference, January 28, 2014. (Photo: unknown, via

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