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May 28, 2024

In May 1964, 11 Coventry Schoolboys Were Suspended for Having Haircuts Like the Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones’ more unkempt look made headlines in May 1964, when the headmaster of a British school sent nearly a dozen students home and ordering them to get haircuts. The boys, aged 16, had copied the hairstyles of The Rolling Stones which the headmaster of Woodlands Comprehensive, Mr. Donald Thompson, said at the time was “messy.” He did say he wouldn’t have minded if the boys had haircuts like the Beatles, as these looked neater.

The boys had copied the hairstyles worn by members of the band the Rolling Stones.

Appearances can be deceiving, of course. The Stones co-founder Brian Jones complained about the response to the band's image in an interview reprinted in Off the Record. “I know the image of us is that we are hooligans and unwashed layabouts, but as a matter of fact we're all very interested in clothes. I would love to be a fashion designer,” Jones said. “On stage, we dress like we do because we feel more comfortable that way. They say we're dirty and scruffy because we've long hair. Short hair makes you clean, they say, but that doesn't follow at all.”

The story was reported by the Coventry Evening Telegraph at the time, showing these issues have always been considered to be news stories.

Take a look at the full text of the article, from May 26, 1964 below:

The furore caused by the Rolling Stones haircuts back in the 1960s. Newspaper cuttings from the time. Coventry Evening Telegraph. May 26, 1964.

‘Beatle Haircuts but no ‘Rolling Stones’ Coventry Boys told

Boys with hair styles copied from the “Rolling Stones” beat group have been suspended from Woodlands Comprehensive School in Coventry until they get their hair cut.

But their headmaster Mr D Thompson has said that he would not object if they returned to school with a “neat Beatle cut.”

Eleven 16 year old boys in the fifth form were told at the end of last week not to come to school again until they had changed their hair style and today seven of them had still refused to comply with Mr Thompson’s order.

Mr Thompson told the Coventry Evening Telegraph today that he was not against boys having modern hair styles but he did object to the ‘scruffy, long hair style of the Rolling Stones with hair curling into the nape of the neck and over their ears’

“There are some delightful Beatle cuts in the school,” went on Mr Thompson, “and I do not object to these as long as they are neat and tidy.

“I told the boys concerned that they were letting the school down and until such time as they have their hair cut they must stay at home.”

In fact the boys have been attending school this week because GCE examinations in which they are involved have been taking place but they are not taking part in other school activities.

School warning

Every boy in the school was warned that Mr Thompson intended to take action against untidy hair a week before the fifth formers were suspended.

On speech day on May 13 he told boys and parents that the future wellbeing of the school depended to a great extent on the present attitude of the senior boys.

When the headmaster and staff had done everything they could the younger boys were influenced more for good or ill by the example of the senior boys.

The following day Mr Thompson addressed the whole school - about 1,400 boys - when he explained to them the importance not only of attending school regularly and on time, working well and developing sportsmanship, good manners and courtesy, but also of personal tidiness and the neatness of their hair.

“I told them then that there were a few older boys who were letting the school down,” he said, adding: “I think in this generation we have to accept that modern cuts are not what we older ones used to have. While I would not wear these styles myself I have no objections to boys who wear them if they are neat and tidy.”


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