5 Biggest Moments in Country Music Hair History

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Jeremy Ryan
Kelsea Ballerini

"Country Music Hair" author Erin Duvall breaks down the 'dos.

You can't think about country music without thinking about hair. Whenever anyone talks about Dolly Parton, her look is mentioned in the same breath as her unparalleled songwriting ability and angelic voice. Willie Nelson is the Red Headed Stranger; his braids are as iconic as his illegal drug habit. That's why I focused on the evolution of hairstyles in country music for my new book Country Music Hair. From the 1960s to today, my first book is a tribute to the iconic hairstyles we loved on our favorite artists.

Willie Nelson, "The Red Headed Stranger"

In my opinion, there has been no greater hair transformation in country music history than that of Willie Nelson. Most fans who see pictures of the icon in the 1960s cannot recognize him thanks to his clean-cut look. The 1970s brought shoulder-length hair and the first signs of what was to come. By the '80s, Nelson had become the man we think of today, full red braids and a signature bandana.

Dolly Parton, "Wiggin' Out"

One of my favorite quotes attributed to Dolly Parton is "People ask me how long it takes to do my hair and I say, 'I don't know, I'm never there.'" Parton has worn everything from a bouffant to long layers, but it's never been her real hair. Stylist Cheryl Riddle is responsible for getting each wig ready to wear, but surprisingly Parton still does her own makeup to this day.

Kelsea Ballerini, "Channeling Dolly"

Kelsea Ballerini is in the new class of country stars, finding her own way by honoring those who came before her. When it comes to hair, Ballerini doesn't go full wig, but she's a big supporter of clip-in hair extensions. Her hair is stick straight and, especially in performance situations, clip-ins hold curl (and thus style) despite the environmental conditions.

Patsy Cline, "Classic"

Patsy Cline is arguably one of the most iconic voices in country music. Her style is stamped in time as well. Reba's stylist Neil Robison explains in Country Music Hair that Cline likely had naturally curly hair and therefore it was a laborious process to get her signature wave. Stylist Earl Cox agrees, sharing a story from his client Barbara Mandrell, who actually styled Cline's hair every night when she was playing steel guitar for the songstress in her teens.

Jake Owen, "Meltdowns"

Country Music Hair also looks at the relationships that fans have with the 'dos of their favorite artists. In 1996, Faith Hill famously chopped off her long locks in what has become known as the "Cut Heard Round the World." Most recently, Ali Ryan of the Dry House Nashville started a new movement when she transformed Jake Owen by cutting his established shoulder-length hair to this clean-cut look. Granted, there was far less outcry this time around as happy fans praised Ryan's work.