Sometime style is subtle, and sometimes it’s staring you right in the face. In the spirit of untrimmed boldness we present the most dazzling mustaches of music’s modern era, skipping over the bygone bounties of Puccini and Strauss and picking up with Little Richard’s far-out flair.
Of course, the definition of mustache is hardly fixed, and some readers will bristle at our inclusions. We can all agree that we’re talking about a strip of the upper lip, but should a mustache be disqualified if it’s paired with a soul patch? And what about something like Bob Weir’s powerful lipholstery — should one of history’s great hirsute fancies be dismissed because it is also connected to a beard?
In the end, we decided that the spirit of the mustache is a spirit of inclusivity, because whether you’ve got a petite little pencil or you’re reaching for the stars, you’re sexy and you grow it. Join us on this wild mustache ride below. — Wren Graves
16. Fred Durst
Style: Dad vibes
The Long and Short of It: Perhaps the most culturally significant moment to come out of Lollapalooza 2021 was Limp Bizkit’s utterly confounding set. On top of playing their new song through the sound system rather than, you know, actually performing it, frontman Fred Durst wowed everyone with his new dad-vibes look. Of course, the cherry on top was the dad ‘stache, which is now a staple of Durst’s visual aesthetic. And if you listen closely, you can hear it losing its temper on the sidelines of a little league game. — Jonah Krueger
15. Justin Hawkins
Style: Captain Hook on a bender
The Long and Short of It: The Darkness’ whole discography can be read as a celebration of aesthetics, and that devotion to style-as-substance is as plain as what’s under the nose on Justin Hawkin’s face. He wears it up, he wears it down, he wears it twisted all around, but no matter the shape, he always looks like he’s having more fun than you. — W.G.
14. Tyler Childers
Style: The “I can fix that for ya”
The Long and Short of It: Tyler Childers has risen as one of the most authentic and wildly talented artists in country music, and his mustache only serves to complement that title. Always switching it up, Childers’ ‘stache follows his whims. Sometimes it’s ratty and untouched, other times it’s trimmed and beardless. Hell, sometimes he shaves it clean off. But no matter what its style, much like Childers’ voice, it demands attention. — J.K.
13. André 3000
Style: Ice cold
The Long and Short of It: André 3000’s mustache never overtly calls attention to itself, but take it away and something feels very wrong. The legendary rapper keeps it trimmed and relatively thin, a fittingly refined choice for a master-level wordsmith and creative powerhouse. If mustaches could feature on other mustaches’ albums, every rap ‘stache out there would be begging for a verse from André 3000’s ice-cold facial hair. — J.K.
12. Bob Weir
Style: What if the bow was better than the present?
The Long and Short of It: This formerly baby-faced Grateful Dead co-founder grew into himself in middle-age with a lush beard and a gorgeous mouser that adorns his nose like a perfectly-wrapped ribbon. In Weir’s best looks, the mustache sweeps up to the sky, imparting a sense of movement and saving this beauty from looking like unevenly-trimmed bristles. — W.G.
11. Jimi Hendrix
Style: Deceptively effortless
The Long and Short of It: As a guitar wizard, Hendrix mastered technique to the point where he could tactically throw it away, making rock stardom sound both awesome and accessible. His whiskers flexed the same effortless authenticity, looking long and compact as they frame a smile or a joint. For onlookers, it’s an aspirational ‘stache, the kind of facial hair that makes you think maybe — just maybe — you could look that cool. — W.G.
10. Carlos Santana
Style: Man it’s a hot one
The Long and Short of It: Like his famous guitar tones, Santana’s mustache used to be loose and raw, though in recent years he’s taken a more polished tact. But one thing hasn’t changed: That facial hair plays a key part in the master’s guitar solos, tensing, quivering, and roaring along to every note and run. — W.G.
Style: Airbrushed sensuality
The Long and Short of It: Prince’s mustache, like everything else about him, seems meticulously thought over, carefully considered, and flawlessly executed. Perhaps it’s not the fullest ‘stache in the music world, but then again, wouldn’t a Tom Selleck-esque bushel of facial hair feel out of place on the gender-bending, acutely put-together artist? It’s the highly groomed approach that makes it so essentially Prince. — J.K.
08. James Hetfield
Style: The angry Hogan
The Long and Short of It: It’s only right that one of the most recognizable forces in metal also has one of the most recognizable mustaches. Even more fittingly, the damn thing basically gives Hetfield a permanent frown. Whether he’s shredding a solo in front of 100,000 people or hugging a puppy, the man looks ferocious, and it’s all thanks to that glorious ‘stache. — J.K.
07. Little Richard
Style: The lamps and tables in a 1980s movie where the hero does too much cocaine
The Long and Short of It: The “Architect of Rock and Roll” didn’t just construct new sounds, but also a new way of packaging them. That includes his mustache, which at different perfectly-manicured times could look anywhere from ready for a five-star night out to the result of an all-night bender. — W.G.
06. John Oates
Style: Because I can and you wish you could
The Long and Short of It: Oates has one of those mustaches that’ll stop you in your tracks. Part of you admires the feat that lies before you, while the rest feels deep shame that you’ll likely never achieve such success in the field of mustaching. A tragic combo of emotions, and one that stays with you long after it leaves your presence. — J.K.
05. Freddie Mercury
Style: GQ’s accessory of the year
The Long and Short of It: Mercury’s mustache is like an accoutrement in a glossy magazine that wows on the model but looks desperate on you — like a bold watch, or a single earring, or how fanny packs are cool again but only if you’re really good-looking. Simple yet showy, Mercury’s facial hair is as irresistible as shouting “Scaramouch!” and as unattainable as one of his trademark high notes. — W.G.
04. David Crosby
Style: Face shield
The Long and Short of It: Who needs lips? Throughout his six-decade career, the irascible Crosby didn’t meet too many people he wanted to talk to anyway. Disguising all the real estate from mouth to nose, this is the facial hair equivalent of a “No Trespassing” sign. — W.G.
03. Lionel Richie
Style: The flight pattern
The Long and Short of It: Richie’s ‘stache follows the rule of three S’s: keep it subtle, stylish, and sexy. No wonder it’s lasted for decades on end, as the singer has rarely gone clean-shaven or even changed up its appearance. Really, it’s the black suit of facial hair – always in vogue and easy like… oh, I don’t know, a Sunday morning? — J.K.
02. Frank Zappa
Style: Daily needs include: three meals, two walks, and a healthy outlet for its energy
The Long and Short of It: Tell us the late Pablo Picasso himself designed Zappa’s mustache and we’d almost believe it. A cubist, in-your-face mountain of hair, Zappa’s mustache-soul patch combo is an iconic aspect of his artistic legacy. It also effectively represents his music, finding that Zappa-esque balance of intensity and silliness. — J.K.
01. Lemmy Kilmister
Style: Just call it the “Lemmy”
The Long and Short of It: Break it down into its components and you end up with a horseshoe mustache, mutton chops, and probably one or two other livestock metaphors we haven’t even heard of. But that doesn’t really capture the furious grandiosity of it all; you might as well try to sum up “Ace of Spades” by pointing out that it’s made of E-chords. A fashion statement and a “fuck you” to the very idea of being fashionable, the Lemmy is a genre unto itself. — W.G.