1980s Hairstyles for Men: Big Hair and Rock Stars

What do guys like Nikki Sixx, David Coverdale, Joey Tempest, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul Stanley and Slash have all in common? They had big hair and crazy hairstyles, plus an army of groupies ready to throw themselves at them. Read ahead to get see for yourself what kind of hairstyles made you “cool” back in the 1980s!

The Men’s Hairstyles of the 1980s: Drugs, Rock n’ Roll and Big Hair

The 1980s were a huge decade in music’s history as it allowed for the massive commercialization of music as well as for the proliferation of plenty of sub genres. Music, as many of you will know, is a directly-influencing force on the fashion trends of an era, and, in the 1980s, the sub-genres of rock & roll took over western countries and lead to some pretty “interesting” fashion trends. With regards to men’s hairstyles, the 1970s had been an era for long hair and for epic greased disco-light pompadours, and it was in the 1980s, with the popularizing of the rock & roll sub-genres, that men went for the “big hair” look.

“Big hair? what the deuce is big hair?” I hear y’all ask. Well, considering that many of you guys are my age and weren’t born for much of the ’80s (or perhaps you’re a child of the ’90s), it begs no question that most of you will be completely oblivious to the epic LOLz and WINRARz that guys had with fashion trends in the ’80s, which included men with hair that was, on average, as big as their own heads.

“Big hair” was the hairstyle name for hair that was grown long and with volume. Actually, let me rephrase that: big hair was the hairstyle trend name for hair that was grown long and with huge (sometimes stupid) amounts of volume. I mean, if you thought that you could grow some big volume with your curly hair, then just wait till you see below the pictures of these 1980s big hair hairstyles; even I am impressed (and my coiled curls can grow some volume!).

Blame the big hair on 1980s hair bands

Following from the subtitle above, I ain’t talking of actual hair accessories that you use to tie your hair when I mention hair bands. Hair bands were 1980s’ bands that played glam metal (a sub-genre of rock & roll) and for which its members (usually males) would wear huge hairstyles as part of their rock star persona. Bands like Mötley Crüe, KISS, Aerosmith and a couple other high-as-a-kite hair bands popularized the big male hairstyles, and these same hairstyles transpired to other sub-genres of the rock spectrum. In fact, by the mid-1980s, every male rock star had long hair and a budget worth several thousands of dollars to be spent on hair spray every month.

Even though the hairstyles of the 1980s’ male rock stars may look silly by today’s standards (specially by hipsters’ standards), I highly suggest that you still take a look at the hairstyles of guys like Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), David Coverdale (Whitesnake), Joey Tempest (Europe), Jon Bon Jovi, Paul Stanley (KISS), Steve Perry (Journey), Mick Jones (Foreigner), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) or Saul Hudson aka Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Slash himself being a long curly haired dude too). And for what it’s worth, my fellow music elitists, I know that, with these aforementioned rock-star names, I have moved back and forth between glam metal, hard rock and power ballads, but, come on; these guys were as liberal and experimental with their music making as they were with their sexual lives!

How to get 1980s big hair for men

Ok, so styling some big hair for yourself isn’t that difficult. In fact, the only men’s hair products that you need are a high-quality hair dryer (aka blow dryer), some hair gel and a good hair spray. I should stress the need for a high-quality hair dryer because regular hair dryers (as well as the cheap ones) will fry your hair to oblivion since the 1980s big hairstyles require some heavy-duty blow drying. Thus, only those hair dryers that minimize hair damage are recommended for big hair styles.

To get your 1980s big hairstyle, you should first take your damp hair and coat it with hair gel by running your fingers through your hair. The motion to use to run your fingers through your hair should be upwards so that you create some volume by itself with the motion. Use as much hair gel as you like, although be aware that overuse of hair gel will give your hair the texture of cardboard!

Once you have your mane coated in gel and styled up, it is time to make use of the hair dryer. Point the hair dryer to your hair and continue with the same upwards styling motion, either by using your fingers again or a comb (use this regular comb if your hair straight hair or use this wide-tooth comb if you have curly hair!). Continue the upwards styling motion with the hair dryer pointed to your hair until you’re happy with the overall volume that you have achieved.

The last step in styling your 1980s big hairstyle involves the use of hair spray. Long hair will succumb to the effect of gravity at some point, thus hair spray allows you to secure your mane in a gravity-defying form, which would not be possible sans the hair spray. In fact, I ain’t joking when I say that male rock stars in the ’80s spent thousands of bucks per month on hair spray; this particular hairstyling product can perform some pretty slick gravity-defying hair miracles! Use as much hair spray as you want; just spray from a distance of about a foot (or 30 centimetres) and make sure to not get the spray on your eyes.

In terms of recommended hair products for your 1980s big hairstyle, I highly suggest that you get this hair dryer (make sure to also get this diffuser to clip to the hair dryer), this hair gel and this hair spray. The most-expensive item out of the three recommended products is the hair dryer, but the recommended hair dryer in the link is really worth the purchase as it is among the few hair dryers that will lessen any heat damage from overusing the dryer. Furthermore, when it comes to curly hair and hair dryers, the vast majority of hair dryers will exacerbate frizz and the recommended hair dryer in the link does the opposite of that (i.e. tames frizz) by using some innovative technology that isn’t cheap, so to speak.

Pictures of 1980s big hairstyles

Anyway, gentlemen, since here at Manly Curls we’re here to provide you with some hairstyle inspiration (blended with some bad jokes of mine), I am now proceeding to post below some of those 1980s hairstyles that you just have to see!

Motley Crue

The guys at Motley Crue (correct spelling: Mötley Crüe) were too extravagant for words, and the only hair band or set of people that I could think of having weirder hair than Motley Crue are KISS (which are also listed below). Motley Crue had Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee as band members, that should tell you how much craziness surrounded Motley Crue.

The 1980s hairstyles of the male members of Motley Crue

A picture of 1980s big hair hairstyles for men


You would have thought that having your band named KISS, they would have kept their hairstyles simple (stupid). But, nah, Paul Stanley, Genne Simmons and the rest of ’em didn’t want the fame without the LOLz. And LOLz they had.

A male member of KISS with long hair and a big hairstyle

The band members of KISS with long hair next to Tupac Shakur


David Coverdale from Whitesnake was a genius at two things:

  • Singing power ballads
  • Making his long locks super frizzy

Just see below…

The Long hairstyle of David Coverdale from Whitesnake

David Coverdale with long frizzy wavy hair


If Joey Tempest of Europe had launched his own line of hair dryers, I can tell you right that he would have become a billionaire. Just look at those fried locks of his with all that glorious frizz; raw 1980s men’s hair, baby!

Joey Tempest with long curly hair

Joey Tempest with his frizzy big hair style

Jon Bon Jovi

Considering that this blog is called “Manly Curls” and that it receives close to 5 figures of daily visitors every day, it would be foolish of me to confess here at Manly Curls my male hair crush on the 1980s Jon Bon Jovi. Oh… wait… did I just write what?

The long hairstyle of Jon Bon Jovi

The cool hairstyle of Jon Bon Jovi in the 1980s

Jon Bon Jovi with long hair in the 1980s

Steve Perry

Steve Perry of Journey was the epitome of an excellent singing voice. Steve Perry and his Journey pals were pumping out billboard hits even before I was born, and, even though, Perry left the band a long time ago, Journey still remains as one of my favourite music bands ever (but only the Steve-Perry-era Journey!).

Oh, and that black dude with a High Top on the second picture next to Steve Perry is none other than Randy Jackson (back when he had hair and wasn’t the size of the late Barry White)!

Steve Perry with long hair

Steve Perry and Randy Jackson with a flat top hairstyle

Mick Jones

Even the power ballad dudes like Mick Jones from Foreigner succumbed to the crazy big hair trends of the 1980s. You just could not call yourself a rock star and not have big hair! In the case of Mick Jones, however, his big hair was more of a Jewfro hairstyle that achieves epic volume on its very own (curly dudes, y’all know the score).

Mick Jones in the music video clip for the song I Want to Know What Love Is

Saul Hudson aka Slash

I just could not finish off this 1980s big hair article without referencing a man who is a synonym of long curly hair: Saul Hudson, aka Slash.

Slash’s curly hair as been one of the trademarks of Guns N’ Roses for as long as the band has been alive. Likewise, Slash’s long curly mane has been an epic source of hairstyle inspiration for too many hard rock and metal guys, and the rumour goes that Slash once gave a lock of his curly mane to the Queen of England and that, ever since, Her Majesty needs to touch the curly lock (which is kept inside a cookie jar) before going to sleep every night. Go figure!

Lastly, and in case you were wondering, Slash wasn’t my source of inspiration to grow my curly hair long. Go read The Curly Hair Book if you so desperately need to know who inspired my “luscious curls”!

The curly hair of Slash

Slash with his long curly hair style

Slash of Guns N Roses with his long curly hairstyle

The 1980s: the decade of hair

There’s not a single doubt whatsoever: the 1980s was the only decade where you could wear anything on your hair and still be classified as cool. Nowadays, it seems as though every hairstyle trend for men requires an Undercut or a boring hipster hairstyle, when, just some 30 years ago, guys were frizzing up their manes and taking LSD to come up with the craziest (and thus coolest, at the time) hairstyles ever seen in the history of mankind.

One thing for sure that we could learn from the 1980s is that your hair can be used (or more like, “should be used”) to express who you are and as part of your overall self puzzle. In both The Curly Hair Book and The Men’s Hair Book, I emphasize the need for you to not only learn all about your hair but to also adapt your hair to your own persona and character. And, if you need a little hairstyle motivation, then just go through the pictures in this article again and see how it all worked out for men back when there was no internet!

All the best, gentlemen.


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Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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3 comments for “1980s Hairstyles for Men: Big Hair and Rock Stars

  1. 80s teen
    March 9, 2017 at 3:15 am

    You forgot Brett Michaels from Poison. The guys with straight hair sometimes needed perms for volume.

  2. jean
    January 13, 2015 at 5:58 am

    Isn’t that Lou Gramm of Foreigner you have pictured, not Mick Jones?

    • Rogelio
      January 13, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Thanks Jean, you’re indeed correct. Brain fart on my side.

      That’s actually a still of the video clip for “I want to Know what Love is”, one of my favourite ballads of all time!


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