The moustache (or mustache) is the most difficult facial hair configuration to pull off. And for the musician it shows a daring and individuality not common to an industry obsessed with "image." For this list I wanted to select the top 10 moustaches in rock & roll history.
When thinking about who should make the list I set some parameters as follows:
1. The moustache had to be the central feature of the artist's facial hair - jazz dots, lambchops or unconnected goatees were acceptable as long as the stache stood out as a separate entity. Full beard and moustache packages were disqualified since a full face of man-hair is a completely different image.
2. This list is the top 10 ROCK 'N' ROLL moustaches -- I have not considered r&b, country, funk, jazz, hip-hop, classical or other distinct genres outside of rawk. I admit Jim Croce may have been a borderline selection on this point, but I've heard his music many times on classic rock radio. And besides, his lip-beaver had its own zip code.
3. Not only did the mouthbrows have to be memorable, but the artist's music had to be too. A great moustache alone was not enough to get you on the list, you should have also reached the rank of "legend" or at least "household name" to be considered. Sorry, GG Allin.
4. Finally, each artist had to be known for their moustache -- since artists tend to change their look frequently I chose to include only those who had kiss-whiskers for extended periods of time. In other words, each clambrush selected is instantly recognizeable as part of an identifiable "look" -- sorry, Prince and Melissa Etheridge.
And so I present...
The Top 10 Rock 'n' Roll Moustaches
10. Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana certainly falls into the category of musical legend and although his cookieduster is on the well-groomed and understated side, it has been a constant companion throughout the course of his career. Carlos makes the number 10 spot in our list because he has worn a standard stache with pride and without the clutter of competing facial hair for decades.
9. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix probably wore his fur horseshoe better than any rock & roller in the history of the rock moustache. His stache's elegant curves in combination with a well-rounded afro and thick eyebrows helped craft a distinct and instantly recognizable image. It is notable to say that Jimi's nose-skirt never took center stage -- his moustache may not come to mind when thinking about him, but it was there. Luckily, it was his guitar playing that stole the show.
8. Duane Allman
Duane Allman is only one of two entries in the top 10 that include a total lampchop/stache combo. The absence of chin and neck whiskers give the impression of a moustache on steroids. This in combination with his long hair parted down the middle gave Duane's face a slender and unique look that will be remembered for eons, as will the music he was able to create in his short 24 years upon the earth.
7. Ted Nugent
As images of Ted Nugent over the decades attest, he's had an on again/off again affair with his nosebeard over the years, but the cover of his seminal album Cat Scratch Fever memorializes his philtrum bush at its heroic peak. The long, fuzzy, unkempt hair, wily stache, elevated eyebrows, chipmunk teeth and maniacal eyes all contribute to what is arguably the greatest moustache-centric rock & roll album cover of all time.
6. Lemmy Kilmister
Lemmy enters at number 6 with our second lambchop/stache combo. The way the left side of his stache dips and gracefully curves around his gravity-producing carbuncles is as close to art as facial hair can get. Undoubtedly, Lemmy's mutton chop moustache is as integral to his image as his gravelly voice is to the music of Motörhead. His glorious nosebush is the perfect companion for the "dirtiest rock n' roll band in the world."
5. David Crosby
David Crosby is, without any doubt, the rock star that most closely resembles a walrus. His wire-like facial hair has evolved over the years to help the singer locate crustaceans as he swims along the bottom of the California surf. It's a little known fact that CSN almost went by the name Moustache, Stills & Nash but the band could not fit the name on the album cover of their 1969 self-titled debut.
4. John Oates
Have you ever seen John Oates of Hall & Oates fame without his moustache? Well, I have and it's just plain wrong! John Oates without his face weasel is much like what your cat looks like after you shave it. Although Hall & Oates have been shunned by the testosterone laden rock fan set, the duo have scored an incredible 7 platinum and 6 gold records in their long career. And that moustache was front and center during the whole MTV video revolution.
3. Jim Croce
Ok, ok, I understand the arguments about Jim Croce not falling into the "rock & roll" category, but I made an executive decision on this one. Not only to include him, but to put him at the #3 spot! Although well known for his folksy acoustic guitar, Croce could indeed rock, as heard on hits like "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". And oh that moustache! Most don't know that before Jim Croce made it big he had a good career as a model for the Nose & Moustache Disguise company who invented the world famous disguise of the same name.
2. Freddie Mercury
Let's face it, Freddie Mercury without his schnozzle-fuzz would have looked like nothing more than an accountant in a tight jumpsuit and cape. But with his perfectly groomed and squared moustache he became the sexually ambiguous superhero that helped make Queen's live show an event to rival the greatest on earth. Freddie will be remembered for all time, and when we close our eyes and think of him, we will visualize that glorious stache.
1. Frank Zappa
Choosing many of the previous artists in this list took some careful consideration, but there was never any doubt about who would claim the number one spot. Frank Zappa's distinctively huge moustache, in combination with his oversized soul patch, is so identifiable to the man that his estate holds a trademark on the look (no joke). The style of his creative loin-tickler even carries the name "The Zappa" after the man who made it famous. So as a respected musician well ahead of his time whose moustache style carries his name, Frank Zappa's stache is the #1 greatest rock & roll moustache in history.
Aside: I have used many slang terms for the moustache in this column, let me know which was your favorite and please add any others you've heard to the comments.
- Jim Croce