Home Music Music Features

Music History Told Through Its Most Incredible Moustaches

From Freddie Mercury to King Princess and every artist in between

Style has always been a big part of music and throughout the years we’ve seen a number of iconic Mos; from Freddie Mercury to King Princess and every artist in between.

Mos, like Movember, are for everyone. To inspire you to embrace the Mo and change the face of men’s health this Movember, we’ve gathered some of music’s greatest moustaches and the people behind them.

Little Richard

A champion of the pencil moustache, Little Richard sported the neat Mo for seven decades.

Alongside his token quiff and flamboyant stage ensembles, Little Richard’s facial hair became a quintessential part of his look. Shooting to the top of the charts in the 50s with Tutti Frutti, the way Little Richard played with gender would eventually inform the way many rockers presented themselves after him. His neat Mo is an essential part of that and will always be associated with his stylish presence.

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa is the poster child for nonconformity, with a musical career that spanned more than 30 years. Composing everything from rock, pop, and jazz to orchestral, Frank’s uniqueness bled into his style, and over the years he embraced a number of different Mos. But the one we most associate with Frank is as unique as him; a wide, full Mo, complimented by a chunky soul patch. It was a style so iconic, that he continued rocking it well into his later life, and it’s become fondly known as The Zappa.

Freddie Mercury

You can’t talk Mos without talking Freddie Mercury. The charismatic frontman of Queen sported a flamboyant moustache that perfectly embodied his larger-than-life persona. Freddie’s Mo became an inseparable part of his showmanship; his follicles were so iconic in fact that in a recent Sotheby’s auction of his belongings, a sterling silver moustache comb was one of the surprise hits, soaring to £26,000 despite its initial estimate of £400-600. One thing Freddie was remembered for was his ability to play with gender, from the “I Want To Break Free” music video to his sequinned jumpsuits on stage, the idea of a rock god owning a sterling silver comb for the sole purpose of grooming his whiskers is just another way he made the Mo his own.

Lemmy Kilmister

Picture rock god Lemmy in your mind. It’s guaranteed that you’re seeing a black shirt, worn hat and one of the greatest Mos to ever exist. With a full set of handlebars, blending into chunky chops, Lemmy’s moustache was both a symbol of Motörhead and of rock itself. Reminiscent of another time, it’s swashbuckling Mo. It’s not an easy Mo, not one we regularly see in our day-to-day lives, but it’s iconic. A full, bristly, Mo you can’t help but respect.

Lionel Richie

In the 70s and 80s, in the world of soul and R&B, Lionel Richie’s neatly groomed Mo complimented his suave charm and smooth vocals. He attributes its tight, symmetrical appearance to his own obsession with perfection, saying he would groom it in front of magnifying mirrors in hotel rooms while on tour. A gold standard commitment to impeccable moustache grooming that inspires us all to up our game.

Justin Hawkins 

The lead singer of The Darkness, and now prolific YouTuber, Justin Hawkins has had a variety of fun and unique follicle experiences. But one constant with his various styles is a Mo – from whispy shag to full Salvador Dali-esque sculpture. His moustache is such a big part of his style that he gets asked about it in almost every interview. You know you’re a full Mo Bro when your ‘stache gets as much airtime as you do.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has had many different style iterations and she’s no stranger to the power of the moustache. In 2010, she debuted her male alter ego Jo Calderone, with an iconic Mo, and in 2013 she went full Dali with a sculptural Mo at the premiere of her avant-garde album Artpop in Berlin. A Mo is about more than being able to grow a full, beautiful, rug of hair on your upper lip. It’s about expressing yourself, however you feel, breaking down barriers and wearing it proudly.

Selena Gomez 

Maybe not one you expected to see on this list, but the “Bad Liar” music video changed us all in many ways, and Selena Gomez in full 70s inspired shag and Mo was a big part of that. The clip featured Selena in four different iterations, including male drag, showcasing her acting talent and bringing the song to life. Directed by rock royalty Jesse Peretz, it also showed just how powerful a Mo can be.

King Princess 

King Princess has never played by the rules. Saying she doesn’t want to be pigeonholed in music by her queer status, she’s embraced many different expressions of gender through her music, particularly in her videos. In “1950”, she wears a thin, pencil Mo, partnered with a Western shirt, giving us prom king energy. Partnered with her heartwrenching vocals, it’s a beautiful juxtaposition of what we associate with Mos and it really shows the creativity of a ‘stache.

Looking through history at some of the most iconic Mos from each era, one thing is clear – it’s not the size of the Mo that matters, it’s the inspiration and impact it leaves behind. The same is true when it comes to Movember. You don’t need a full Lemmy or Zappa to be an advocate, start a conversation, raise funds and save lives.

The power of the Mo is the power of the unexpected, the power of expression and the power of breaking down barriers, and it can help change the face of men’s health. The Mo is for everyone.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine