Recalling the US Fifth Circuit’s first ‘Haircut’ case

If you have been wondering along the lines of – ‘When was the first haircut case heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ?’ The answer could well be : Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District, 261 F. Supp. 545 (N.D. Tex. 1966)

The Ferrell plaintiffs were members of a musical group called ‘Sounds Unlimited’. According to the band, their recording contract required them to maintain ‘Beatle – style’ haircuts, The principal of the school which they attended objected to their mop-top hair, and banned them from entry to the school. The court documents reveal that :

“It was also developed by the defendants that immediately after being refused admittance the ‘Sounds Unlimited’ proceeded to a local recording studio and recorded a song entitled, ‘Keep Your Hands Off of It.’ Copies of the record were produced and distributed by the agent to the various radio stations in the area, and was subsequently played on the air by these stations. This record was played in open court, and to say the least, it was an excursion into cacaphony. The words went something like this:

“Went to school, got kicked out,

Said it was too long, now we’re going to shout.

(Chorus)

“Keep your hands off of it,

Keep your hands off of it,

It don’t belong to you.

“Bopped upon the steps, Principal I met,

You’re not getting in, now what do you want to bet.

(Chorus)

“Went this morning, tried to get in, The kids were for us, but we still couldn’t win.

(Chorus)

“HAIR, THAT IS.” (Defendants’ Ex. #1)

See/hear the exhibit above. To sum up the proceedings then :

“[The] Appellants contend that the action of the school authorities was unlawful under the constitution and laws of the State of Texas.”

The court’s decision, however, was :

“We do not agree.”

Further reading : A lengthy description of the band and its exploits can be found here at the On The Road South blog.

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

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