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An Unfortunate History of White Men With Dreadlocks

Remember Adam Duritz? Of course you do

Dreadlocks have been part of cultures around the world throughout history, from ancient India to Greece to Africa. Dreadlocks as a fashion statement, however, erupted in the 1970s, in a trend sparked by reggae musicians and their fans. All of a sudden, a symbol of Rastafarian spirituality became the look of the counterculture, embraced by hippies, punks and others who just wanted to seem “different.”

Salons and beauty brands began selling the look to white people, offering an ever-expanding array of products and maintenance strategies. Bubble-gum pop stars like Christina Aguilera tried the look on for size in the late ’90s; most recently, teen pop idol Justin Bieber emerged from his comeback with bleach-blond dreads. Naturally, the response was unfavorable.

But he’s not alone. Bieber is only the latest in a long line of white dudes who have decided dreadlocks would make them look cooler. They were mistaken.

1991: Adam Duritz
Who?: You know, that guy from Counting Crows!
Fun fact: Adam Duritz is 51! Wow. He has also dated both Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, the latter of whom sported dreadlocks at the 1999 Emmys.
Problematic? Yes.
Well? They’re fake. From a 2008 Rolling Stone interview: “His dreadlocks — which he has always freely admitted are hair extensions — are fascinating up close. They’re so incongruous with the rest of his appearance… that you half expect them to begin moving, like a giant tarantula. Not long ago, Duritz’s publicist urged him to shave his head, but he wouldn’t do it. ‘Whatever they hide or cover about myself, you know, they feel good,’ he says. ‘And I did not want to be skinhead guy.’”
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? Weirdly, no!

1993: Jonathan Davis
Who?: You know, the guy from KoRn!
Fun fact: Korn and Rob Zombie have an upcoming 2016 tour called “Rob Zombie and Korn: Return of the Dreads.” Oh no.
Problematic? Yes.
Well? From a 2011 interview with Loudwire, when asked why he got dreadlocks: “I decided because of laziness, I didn’t want to have to do anything to my hair anymore, that was it, that was the main reason. I’m a lazy guy, you just get up and go. With my old hair-do with the pigtails or whatever I had on there, I would have to do stuff every week and it sucked.”
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? No.

1993: Jeordie White
Who?: You know, Jeordie White! aka Twiggy Ramirez, aka Twiggy, of Marilyn Manson, A Perfect Circle, and NIN
Fun fact: Twiggy got his band name by combining the name of English model Twiggy with the surname of American serial killer Richard Ramirez.
Problematic? I kind of don’t have a problem with Jeordie White’s dreads. It feels like they go with his whole dirty, weird, gross, anti-establishment brand. (But that doesn’t mean I like them.)
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? Yes, “the multicolored dreadlocks [style was] taken directly from Jack Off Jill singer Jessicka and Gidget Gein.”

1998: Chris Kirkpatrick
Who?: You know, the guy from *NSYNC! The one with the clothing line!
Fun fact: Chris Kirkpatrick’s fashion and beauty sense is like when you were in a really shitty relationship but you didn’t realize it was shitty until you were far enough removed from it. At its peak, *NSYNC was in the throes of the worst of late ’90s fashion. We didn’t know it then, but we understand now: It was bad.
Problematic? Yes.
Well? When asked about his hair in a 2001 Yahoo! chat, Kirkpatrick said: “I just put some dreads in it. It kind of represents my freedom, and my own personal direction I’m taking myself. I don’t do things to impress people, I just do it.”
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? No.

2006: Promoe of the Looptrop Rockers
You know, a rapper from Sweden!
Fun Fact: In 2006, Promoe released an album entitled White Man’s Burden. Prior to that, after a German Rapper named Kool Savas name-dropped Promoe in a diss track, Promoe responded with a diss track of his own, and Kool Savas just ignored it. (Swedish rap beefs sound pretty tame.)
Problematic? Yes.
Well? Promoe told in 2005: “I don’t wear them for the same reasons as somebody else I don’t think. They’re very political to me as well as spiritual. I see them as a protest against society’s obsession of looks (although some may see them as a fashion statement — I wouldn’t agree). I don’t cut, comb or shave my head — this is how I look.”
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? No.

2007: Jason Castro
Who?: You know, that guitar guy from American Idol Season 7 (who also just nearly made it to the Top 3)
Fun Fact: He was the first-ever Idol contestant to play the ukulele.
Problematic? Yes.
Well? “The day has come. #GoodbyeDreads,” Castro tweeted in 2013 when he got rid of his signature dreadlocks.
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? Yes, a mention that he chopped them off in 2014 after experiencing a spiritual reawakening.

2010: Kyle Beckerman
Who?: You know, the team captain of Major League Soccer team Real Salt Lake in Utah!
Fun Fact: He recently set a record for all-time appearances by a field player. (No idea what that means.)
Problematic? Yes.
Well?I just always liked dreadlocks. I don’t know if I’m lucky or unlucky, but I’ve got this curly hair. When I was growing up, if I didn’t comb it, it would just start to knot up. My mom would make me cut it off when it got all knotted. But eventually, when I moved out and didn’t live at home, I let it grow.”
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? No.

2012: Brad Pitt
Who? You know, that A-list actor! From Fight Club!
Fun fact: He was given dreads for a Steven Klein photoshoot with Interview magazine.
Problematic? Yes.
Well? In the same interview, he tells Guy Ritchie: “I don’t want to embarrass my family.”
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? No.

2013: Henrik Harlaut
Who?: You know, a Swedish freestyle skier who competed in Aspen and Sochi!
Fun Fact: After royally screwing up in Sochi (he skied with his pants halfway down his legs, ultimately placing sixth), he “gave the Wu-Tang Clan hand sign to the cameras and declared ‘Wu Tang is for the children.’”
Problematic? Yes.
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? Yes, a piece on USA Today proclaims, “Dreadlocked Swedish skier wants you to know Wu Tang is for the children.”

2016: Justin Bieber
You know, that sometimes-good, sometimes-bad former-teen pop singer! He sings that song you hear at the gym! No, the other song! Yes, both of those songs!
Fun fact: Justin Bieber paired his dreads with a 2Pac T-shirt.
Problematic: Yes.
Well? Just today, Bieber released a video of himself on Facebook captioned, “Being weird is fun’ if u r not weird I don’t like you,” in which he mocks fans mocking his dreadlocks. He reportedly told rapper Big Sean: “[People say] you wanna be black and all that stuff, I’m like ‘it’s just my hair.’”
Does control + F + “dreadlocks” yield results on his Wikipedia page? No, but someone really should make an edit.

Caroline Moss is a writer and former deputy culture editor at Business Insider. She previously wrote about the pitfalls of iPhone-Android romance.