blues artists and their hair

Terence McArdle tmcardle1960@YAHOO.COM
Sun Sep 23 13:30:11 EDT 2012

Well, I would say that Esquerita made a statement with his hair though it might have been a wig. At the other extreme, let's not forget Nappy Brown who really was bald rather than nappy and Chuck Higgins' bari-sax playing brother, Daddy Cleanhead. You can't forget all the great turbans in the blues -- Chuck Willis, Lynn Hope (tenor sax man) and Eddie Bo. Jerry Wexler said that Willis was a cueball under his turban.

There's the Lightnin' Hopkins song, Short Haired Woman -- "I don't want no woman if her hair ain't longer than mine, She keeps me buying rats all the time." (Wigs were once made from rat hairs.)

There's a line in a Wynonie Harris song, "Get To Gettin'" about processes -- "If your hair ain't red, the roots ain't dead. Don't cut it, conk it!" And Jerome's line to Bo Diddley in Say Man, 'It looks like your process took a recess."The best song about processes was probably J.B. Lenoir's "Don't Touch My Head."

Of course, if you're going to do this right, you probably need to look -- as Chris Rock did a few years ago -- at the social implications of black hair styles. Otherwise, you're making light of something that carries a lot of baggage! Google C.J. Walker and you'll see what I mean.


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