Among the Most Extraordinary People In History
We originally published this post in recognition of Black History Month in 2018, to commemorate notable and influential black men with long hair.
It has since been updated to include many renown individuals we hadn’t previously recognized. Today we don’t look at it so much as recognition of black history, but human history…not for one month, but all year.
We appreciate these men and what they’ve done. Among all their achievements and contributions to humanity, they remind us that long hair brings us together.
While Black History Month is synonymous with prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and President Barack Obama, there are countless other African-Americans who've made a profound impact in history: self-made millionaire Madam C.J. Walker, world-renowned sculptor Edmonia Lewis, carbon filament light bulb inventor Lewis Howard Latimer, open-heart surgeon Daniel Hale Williams, science-fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, and the "Father of Black History" Carter G. Woodson...among many others.”
In respect for Black History Month, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most influential and remarkable black men with long hair in history.
From leaders and activists to athletes and artists, these men have helped shape the world we live in. Here we honor these men, and all people of color, in celebration of Black History Month.
Also spelled Mykal Rose, the Jamaican reggae artist is described on his website as a modern roots singer, recording and performing his brand of militant, hardcore Jamaican music for over 25 years. As the frontman of Black Uhuru, the band won the first-ever Grammy Award for reggae in 1985 for their album, Anthem.
His locs are especially legendary, and though more often tucked under a rastacap he can be seen in photos with his locs extending past his knees.
Messenger of Peace
One of the most successful musicians of all time, Stevie Wonder has sold over 100 million records worldwide, winning 22 Grammy Awards including Album of the Year for three consecutive album releases between 1973 - 1976, the only artist in history to have done so.
Blind since just after his birth, Wonder is widely regarded as a musical genius, said to have influenced a wide range of genres spanning rhythm and blues, rock and roll, pop, soul, funk, jazz and gospel.
Also known for his activism, he campaigned to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday, releasing the single “Happy Birthday” and hosting the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Fueled by Wonder’s involvement, the campaign produced a petition to Congress garnering over six million signatures and ultimately passing into law.
Wonder is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He’s been named a United Nations Messenger of Peace and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack OBama.
Stand-Up Comedy Legend
Considered among many as the greatest stand-up comedian of all time, Richard Pryor also appeared in more than 40 films.
Winner of an Emmy Award and five Grammy Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award, among many others, Pryor was ranked number one on both Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time and Comedy Central’s top 100 comedians of all time.
As his health was ailing in later years, reports surfaced that Pryor had lost his voice and could no longer speak. His wife is said to have replied with Pryor’s statement, "I'm sick of hearing this shit about me not talking…not true…I have good days, bad days…but I still am a talkin' motherfucker!"
Although he doesn’t appear to have worn his hair past his shoulders, he often let his afro grow out big and bold, landing him squarely in the ranks of the most influential black men with long hair in history.
Reggae Fusion Pioneer
A British singer-songwriter of Jamaican descent, Maxi Priest is well known for reggae fusion, a genre of reggae mixed with an R&B influence. As one of the first international artists to have success in this genre, he is considered one of the most successful reggae fusion acts of all time.
Not only blessed with the powers of voice but also with flow, he is often pictured wearing his locs below his waist.
A singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer, Rick James is most recognized for his career-defining hits like "Give It to Me Baby" and "Super Freak," the latter of which was later sampled for MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” for which James won his only Grammy Award.
With a reputation for particularly outrageous partying, we cannot fail to highlight James’ iconic 2004 appearance on Chappelle's Show, in which James is portrayed by Dave Chappelle in a skit reminiscing on the glory days.
From a youthful jheri curl to braids to locs, Rick James had long hair virtually his entire life.
Forefather of Reggae
Irish Rock & Roll Icon
An Irish singer, musician, and songwriter, Phil Lynott is best known as a founding member of Thin Lizzy, in which he was the lead vocalist, songwriter and bassist, though he fronted for several other bands as well.
You’d most likely remember his voice from "The Boys Are Back in Town," written from the point of view of the band and the audience being in a gang together (kinda like a long hair fraternity?). An extraordinarily talented lyricist with a unique singing style, he’s adored in Ireland to this day and well-remembered in the rock and roll community.
Helped Shape Music
Younger generations might recognize him from his marvelous appearance in Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, but with a musical career that has spanned more than four decades, he has written, produced and performed on albums selling more than 500 million copies.
Co-founder of Chic, he is a three-time Grammy Award winner, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, of which he later became chairman.
The official music video for Lose Yourself to Dance is basically required viewing, with Nile Rodgers alongside Pharell Williams, with their sparkling jackets, that smile, that hair, that music, the whole mix! Wow.
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
The longhaired Toussaint Louverture was a freedom fighting revolutionary, dedicated to the cause of extending the core ideals and rights of the French Revolution to the enslaved men of the French colony of Haiti. United under the cry “Liberte ou la mort,” the Haitian people fought valiantly against the tyranny of slavery and broke their chains.
Despite the odds, L'ouverture led his people to victory over one of the most powerful empires the world had ever seen, and laid the foundation for a republic of the Haitian people, free of slavery.
His actions would go on to inspire revolts against slavery across the globe. In most depictions of Louverture, he rocks his elegant locks tied with a blue ribbon.
Stir It Up
Bob Marley was indisputably one of the most famous, iconic, and talented artists of the 70s and 80s. This Jamaican legend dropped Earth-shaking hits such as One Love, No Woman, No Cry, Redemption Song, and dozens of other songs that will forever go down in histories as staples of modern music.
However, Marley’s music was not his only contribution to the world. Marley espoused in both his songs and personal life staunch commitment to the liberation of Africans around the world, contributing to the cause known as “Pan-Africanism.” Additionally his famous dreadlocks which he wore so well were rooted in his commitment to his religion: Rastafari.
Without a doubt, Bob Marley’s influence on the world, both in music and in society, will stay with us for ages to come.
Artist and Activist
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s role in the street art movements of the late 1970s and 80s cannot be overemphasized. His unique style and influence on art of the following decades have enjoyed resurgent popularity, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another artist quite like Basquiat.
His art featured many commentaries on social ills and has been showcased and exhibited in dozens of museums around the world. Despite his tragically short life, Basquiat’s impact on art was indelible.
A paragon amongst Americans, Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” remains one of the most taught and widely read pieces of literature in our nation’s history, highlighting the brutality of slavery and keeping us in constant remembrance and observance of our dark past.
Despite being forbidden to read and write as a slave, Frederick Douglass would go on to become one of the great orators of American history, passionately retelling the brutalities of his early life and arguing for emancipation and an immediate end to slavery.
Prince’s death in 2016 produced an emotional outpouring of millions who had been touched, inspired, and awed by the musical legend. Bops like “When Doves Cry” and “Little Red Corvette” can still be heard today and have had a lasting impact on musical culture.
In addition to his influential discography, Prince’s music and image often challenged expectations of masculinity, rocking all kinds of sick do’s from afros to blow-outs in his proud expression of freedom from notions of gender conformity.
His presentation allowed a lot of people, men and non-men alike, to feel comfortable in their own skin and being their real selves.
Generational Musician & Guitarist
Indisputably, Jimi Hendrix is one of the most renowned and influential musicians of the 20th century, and certainly one of the most recognizable black men with long hair of all time.
Armed with a wild mane, an iconic Stratocaster, and a funky ‘do, Hendrix’s talent remains unmatched by any guitarist to come after him. The unique style and feel of his music, influenced by the turbulent times of the 60s, made songs like “All Along The Watchtower” and “Wild Thing,” staples of American music.
Football Great, Community Activist and Long Hair Enthusiast
A standout wide receiver in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald will be considered among the greats in professional football history. 11 Pro Bowls, a First Team All-Pro in 2008, second all-time in receptions, second in receiving yards, sixth in receiving touchdowns and ninth in games started, he’s a guaranteed Hall of Famer when he hangs up the cleats.
His pursuits outside of football are equally if not more impressive. He’s established multiple charitable initiatives, most of which fall under the umbrella of the Larry Fitzgerald Foundation, while supporting many others and also receiving countless awards for his off-the-field contributions. He’s taken charitable mission trips to Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines, he’s made USO tours to visit soldiers overseas and raised financial support for injured members of the U.S. military.
All this and he is a big time hair guy. Having grown it long in honor of his mother, he takes immaculate care of his locks, equipped with a personal salon in his home and maintaining a strict hair-care regimen. Larry, you are the man. We hope you’re back on the field next season.
Musician, Entrepreneur, OG Longhair
The one and only Snoop D - O - double G dropped his debut album, Doggystyle in 1993, selling more than 800,000 copies in the first week of its release, then going quadruple-platinum the next year. Snoop would keep firing off hits like Gin and Juice, Murder Was The Case, and dozens of others, and has since sold over 35 million records worldwide.
Beyond his musical career, it would be impractical to list all his endeavors here.
He’s appeared in dozens of films and television shows, he’s been involved in activism against gun violence and many other causes, and he’s engaged in a broad range of business ventures and investments.
A longhair for decades and a father of gangster rap, Snoop is a legend in his own time.
We Listed Some, But Honor All
While this post is a small slice of the contributions and accomplishments of black men with long hair, here we honor all men and women of color. Read more about Black History Month here, and hear black men's perspectives on long hair, race and Black History Month in Black Men’s Perspectives.
We have been proud to foster a diverse and inclusive community since 2014. No matter who you are, where you’re from, the color or your skin or even the length of your hair, we respect, appreciate and are grateful for every friend, supporter and advocate of The Longhairs.
Because long hair lives in the heart.
Yani Care Products & Services
This recognition was made possible in part by Yani Care Products, experts in hair care products for locs and natural hair.
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Wait, Who Are You Guys?
This is a Place For Guys With Long Hair
If you’re one of them, you’re one of us.
We’re guys with long hair. We advocate, educate and celebrate men’s long manes with hair whips and high fives.
We invite you to join the community. You’ll get our best content, connect with other longhairs—we’ll even show you the secret handshake. Just for joining we’ll juice you up with a coupon for 20% off your entire first purchase.
That’s a great deal, but far more important is the fact you’ve found The Longhairs.
Commemorating Black Men With Long Hair
Who did we miss? Please suggest other black men with long hair who should be on this list.