Hairstyles of the 70's: A Guide to 10 of the Greatest Afros of All-Time
America. Every day it's the same ol' thing. You flip on the news and instead of serious measured debate, you get tabloid headlines. Anna Nicole Smith popped this. Britney Spears shaved that. Nicole Richie drove the wrong way on a freeway this. Paris Hilton snorted coke off a fat man on a tape that she left in a storage bin, that. God forbid, anyone attempts to bring up a serious topic like hairstyles of the 1970's, and the media treats you like a Carrot-Topped stepchild. Indeed, what America needs most right now is a sober forum to discuss the hairstyles that have molded our consciousness (forum is unlikely to be sober). In the first of a hopefully short series, I present The Passion of the Weiss Guide to Hairstyles of the 70s: Volume I (The Afro.) Stay tuned for next week's even more frivolous list: The 10 Greatest Jew-Fros of all time.
10. The Girl on the Cover of Maggot Brain
I imagine the girl above somehow got to be the cover art girl (the old-school version of the video ho) after an afternoon spent with George Clinton trying to go Funkadelic on her in a forest with a basket full of magic mushrooms. Next thing they knew, mid-trip, they conceived the idea to bury her up to her neck and snap the shot for the cover of Maggot Brain. And you can't blame 'em. Sure, the crazed look in her eye makes you think she's straight from of Tobin's Spirit Guide. But the afro says take me...take me...take me to the mothership.
9. Jules Winfield (Pulp Fiction) Jules Winfield might have been written by Quentin Taratino in '94, but his afro says, "'74." He quotes the Book of Ezekial. He admires the fine taste of Big Kahuna burgers. He owns a wallet that says "bad mothafucka." I don't know why Sam Jackson bothered to re-make Shaft when this was even better. Yet even better than his acting chops were his mutton-chops (an essential part of a truly great afro.) Some might accuse Winfield of straying too close to the boundary between the afro and jheri curl, but ultimately, I say: afro (due to Winfield's impressive lift and nearly perfect spherical shape.) You know what they call a haircut like this in France? They don't call it a coif. They don't call it a pompadour. Nor do they call it a royale with cheese. They just says its fucking awesome (or "magnifique" if you're into that whole Gallic sort of thing).
8. The Lady of Rage I'm the one that's throwin bolos, ya better roll a Rolo to find out I'm the number one solo, uhh The capital R-A now take it to the G-E I bring the things to light, but you still can't see me I flow like a monthly you can't cramp my style For those that try to punk me here's a Pamprin child No need to say mo', check the flow Rage in effect once mo', so now ya know
I rock rough and stuff with my afro puffs (RAGE!)
Rock on witcha' bad self
70s or 90s, quite frankly,I can't argue with Rage? Why? Because when you think afro puffs, you think of her rocking on with her bad self.
7. The Jackson 5
Fuck critics. It wasn't just Michael carrying the group. How dare one besmirch the fine name of Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and what's the other one's name, Randy? (oh, yes Jackie).
If they were truly untalented their afro's would've wilted under the pressure of the spotlight. If we need to get critical, might I point out that little Michael had but the fourth best hair in the group (since demoted to fifth.)
Most scholars believe "You Made Me What I Am" from the Jackson 5's seventh album, 1973's Skywriter was written to their hairdresser. And after seeing those creepy photos of Michael hanging out in Bahrain with the flat-ironed straight hair, the entire damned world should sing "I Want You(r) (Afro) Back."
6. Sly from Sly and the Family StoneIt's hard for me to reconcile the difference between Sly and the ultra-magnetic, superfly, 1970's afro that allowed him to croon "If You Want Me to Stay;" with his new blonde Mohawk that makes him look like a cross between Chris Tucker in the 5th element and Dennis Rodman circa 1996. I have two theories. The first is that when Sly chopped off his 'fro he lost all of his powers and had to revert to a Syd Barret-like life of insanity and seclusion. That or he's still doing lots and lots of drugs.
5. Cleopatra Jones
This is the plot of Cleopatra Jones: A special agent (Cleopatra) assigned to eliminate drug-trafficking in the US and abroad, torches poppy fields in Turkey. This makes Mommy, a drug-lord played by Shelley Winters furious and she promises to destroy Jones. Mommy uses her link with corrupt officers on the force to stir up trouble for Jones' friends and to set her up to be jumped. Meanwhile, Mommy has problems with some of her pushers, like the disloyal Doodlebug, played by Antonio Fargas.
Its sequel Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold involves two men disappearing during an undercover mission in Hong Kong. Cleopatra travels there to find them. With the help of local detective Mi Ling, Cleopatra discovers that her friends' disappearance has to do with The Dragon Lady, a much-feared blonde "lipstick lesbian" who runs a Macao casino and controls a major chunk of the local drug trade.
All the while Cleo, played by Tamara Dobson is rocking platforms and a picture-perfect afro that makes her stretch out to "6'2." It's like the poster says. Hottest. Superagent. Evar.
4. Pam Grier Circa 1973
I'm sure there are a few better things than Pam Grier, circa 1973, wearing just a bra, holding an shot gun in her palm. I'm just not sure what they are yet.3. Dr. JNot only was Dr. J one of the 10 best basketball players of all-time, he probably had the greatest afro the game has ever seen. The only thing with more up-power than Erving's incredible vertical leap was his sky-high afro (and Britney Spears). So iconic was Dr. J's fro that it dominates any and all thoughts that someone under 40 has when they think about the ABA. Dismantling competition with effortless style and grace, Dr. J was so dominating that he won two ABA MVP's despite the league's short existence (and one with Philly in 1981). Add that to the fact that Julius had the best hair around and you will encounter few greater afros in the annals of afro-dom than Dr. J. Plus, along with a fish he managed to save the entire city of Pittsburgh.
2. Jimi Hendrix
Many people mistakenly think a good afro (or jewfro) is about merely having a large tangled mass of hair on your head. I beg to differ. Don't believe me? Then examine Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding trying to fuck with Hendrix's style. Indeed, a good afro isn't merely about hair. There are other intangibles involved . Some may call it their "swag." While others might declare that one just needs to look "fresh." Needless to say, neither Mitchell nor Redding look fresh or full of swag (though they do look a bit groovy.) Hendrix practically invented the afro, pioneering a trend that would become the norm during the 70s. Oh yeah, and he's also like good at music or something.
1. Oscar GambleIt is said that when Oscar Gamble's wife, Juanita, saw him for the first time sans afro, she burst into tears. Such is the power of the great Oscar Charles Gamble, whose afro was so mighty that it was said to pop off his batting helmet at times. Unlike, the other great afro'd men and women on this list, Gamble did not need to excel at his chosen profession to become famous for his afro. There were no MVP's for Gamble. No rock n' roll Hall of Fame nods. No collaborations with Snoop Dogg (and the DOC). All Oscar Gamble needed was the sheer resplendence of his pure-like-artesian water afro. So pure in fact, that the little children in the Bronx used to refer to him as "el hombre con el pelo spectacular." It was only when Yankee owner George Steinbrenner forced the issue, that Gamble agreed to chop it off. In its stead, he replaced it with a mullet.