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Ok. Well anyone between the ages of 30-40 could debate this topic endlessly. Everyone of us is familiar with the 80’s Hair Metal Era…which had it’s high point from 1985-1992. For the sake of staying true to this music genre…Guns N Roses did not fit into this category as they created their own category. I point this out because if they were in the category…they would be the unanimous pick. Van Halen is also not in this group because they were in a league of their own. Wether the bands were around long term or only had a few albums….here is my Top 10. I obviously hope that we can have some fun with this topic and I look forward to other people’s picks. Without further adue…here is my Top 10:
10) Ugly Kid Joe- Although they only produced a few albums…they make my list as they also mad my top 10 underrated metal bands list. UKJ were a phenomenal talent and they came around at the end of the scene when Hair Metal was at it’s decline. However, UKJ did very well with it’s album sales and also garnered a large fan base. If UKJ had been around longer…they may have very well been the Number1 Pick here. I’m sure everyone remember’s their Number One Single…”Hate Everything About You.”
9) Dokken- Dokken may have been higher on my list but they did not receive the mainstream popularity that other bands on this list did and that is one of the criteria to make this list. Dokken did however have a huge fan base…especially women and did manage to produce some major hit singles. Their guitar Work was brilliant and they did do well on tour.
8) RATT- This band was one of the First 80’s Hair Bands to make it big and they were also underrated in the mainstream community. Warren DeMartini and Robin Crosby provided excellent guitar hooks and Riggs and Steven Pearcy was the prototype frontman for bands in this era. As stated earlier…they deserve a lot of credit for bringing this type of music to the top.
7) Cinderella- Cinderella was formed in the mid 80’s in Pennsylvania. The original band featured Front man Tom Keifer, Eric Brittingham on Bass, Guitarist Michael Smerick, and Tony Destra on Drums. In 1985…Smerick and Destra left to form Britny Fox another Philadelphia based band, that next moved to Hollywood. Jef Debar and Jim Drnec joined the band and they began touring clubs in Philly. They actually received a big break when Jon Bon Jovi discovered the band playing at the Empire Rock Club in Philly and quickly took the band under his wing. Cinderella became very popular and went on to have a huge career on MTV with lots of airplay. Cinderella has sold over 20 million albums…they are still touring…and actually there is talk orbs new album. “Don’t Know What You Got till it’s Gone” was their major hit but they produced many other hit singles. They brought a bluesy sound to Hair Metal that set them apart from some of the other bands.
6) Bon Jovi- Bon Jovi became an instant star studded band, and they started in Sayerville New Jersey…and their 3rd Album Slippery When Wet put them on the map forever! Their 4th Album New Jersey didn’t miss a beat and produced more number 1 hit singles. Between 1986-1994…Bon Jovi went on to record 13 Top 40 Hits with 4 Number 1 Hits! In total…Bon Jovi has produced 9 Studio Albums and have sold over 130 million records world wide! Quite an accomplishment for a band that’s been around that long. Richie Sambora brings a lot of talent to the band with his guitar style and the only change in the band occurred when bassist Alec John Such left in 1994. Their most known hits include “Livin on a Prayer, You Give Love a Bad Name, I’ll be There For You, and Bad Medicine. Also instant classics…”Wanted Dead or Alive (My personal favorite) and It’s my Life which introduced Bon Jovi to a younger audience.
5) Warrant- Warrant originated in Hollywood, California later in the Hair Metal genre when the music style was at it’s peak. Between 1989-1996 Warrant released Five albums that sold over 10 Million Records World Wide. Their two major hit albums were Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich which was followed up by Cherry Pie. Cherry Pie reached double platinum and the video for the title track put Warrant at the Top of the charts for their time. I could easily put Bon Jovi ahead of Warrant on this list due to the longevity and the success that they have achieved over the years but Warrant reminds me of one of those running backs….The “Earl Campbell” of Hair Metal. If Warrant had lasted longer, they may have made the Top 3 of this list. Their 3rd album hit gold in sales…Dog Eat Dog….which is a very underrated album which Warrant tried to play a little heavier than their previous albums. Jani Lane had one of the best voices in the Hair Metal era…and should be up there in all time vocalists. He died 2 years ago from alcohol abuse. Warrant was a great band that should not be taken lightly when reviewing this list.
4) Poison- During the mid eighties till the mid nineties…Poison sold over 30 million records world wide and 15million of those in the United States alone. Brett Michaels is one of the greatest hair metal frontmen of all time and CC Deville provides a fast paced style but also was able to incorporate a country/bluesy style into his artwork. Poison was also formed in Philadelphia by Brett Michaels, Bobby Dahl, and Rilki Rockett. During their Hey Day…Poison produced 10 Top 40 Billboard Hits including 6 that made the Top 10. Their only number 1 singles is probably one of the most recognized songs of this time period, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn'” They got on the map after releasing their first album “Look What the Cat Dragged In” which featured the hit “Talk Dirty To Me.” They hit their peak with their 2nd album release with “Open up and say ahh”. These two albums were followed up with yet their third multiplatinum album…”Flesh and Blood.”. They receive tons of exposure on MTV an their Frontman…popular with the ladies even had his own MTV show…Rock of Love and he was also the winner of Celebrity Apprentice one season. He is probably the most popular frontman of this era. Poison still tours worldwide and are also working on a new album.
3) Skid Row- Skid Row could be considered in a category of their own because they always pushed the envelope and tried to play a little heavier and louder than all of the other Hair Bands. Skid Row was formed in 1986 out of Toms River New Jersey. Sebastian Bach and Dave “Snake” Sabo were the original members as well as Rachel Bolan. Their first three albums went double platinum with their first album “Skid Row” hitting number 6 on the Top 200 Billboard List, second album Slave to the Grind hitting number 1 on this list and the third album SubHuman Race hitting 35. Their biggest hits are still major hits today and are played all over on juke boxes throughout the world. At the en of 1996…the band had sold 20 million records world wide. Sebastian Bach has went on to form a very successful solo career and is considered by many to be one of the greatest vocalists ever. His range is off the charts. Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo are also very underrated musicians. During that 3 album span…Skid Row was probably the most popular hair metal band of the time.
2) Motley Crüe- Motley Crüe was formed in Los Angeles, California by Bassist Nikki Sixx and Drummer Tommy Lee. They were later joined by Guitarist Mick Mars and Vocalist Vince Neil. Throughout the years…Motley Crüe has been labeled one of the most “Notorious” Rock Bands in History. They even released a Biography that chronicles their path through the bottom to stardom. All members of this band have suffered through some type of addiction, which really shows their toughness considering they are still going strong today. Motley Crüe has sold over 80 million records to date and 25 million in the United States. They have released nine studio albums and are currently working on their tenth one, which will be released in 2013. They hit their peak in 1987 when they released the album Girls, Girls, Girls and then struck gold with their 1989 release of Dr. Feelgood. Dr. Feelgood hit Number 1 on the Billboard Charts and stayed their for 109 days…a long time to be on top. It’s not a coincidence that this album was produced at a time when the Band Members all tried collectively to stay sober. Two hit singles “Kick Start my Heart” and “Dr. Feelgood” were both nominated for Grammy Awards. They also achieved success in 1990 NY beating out Aerosmith for the Best Hard Rock Album of the Year. Motley Crüe is even bigger today and they even have their own festival. They are still going strong and remain one of the last hair metal bands that have it’s original members and are at the top of their game.
1) Def Leppard- Def Leppard is the only band on this list that was not formed in the United States…as they began their career in Sheffield England. They started the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and developed into the Hair Metal Kings. Their 3rd album Pyromania made Def Leppard a household name and put them on the map as major players. In 1987 they released Hysteria which topped The United States charts as well as the UK charts…one of the few albums to ever do this. As of 2009…Hysteria has went 12x Platinum in sales worldwide and has sold over 20 million copies of the album in the US alone. We are not talking 20 million records total…we are talking 20 million sales of one album. That statistic is insane. Hysteria spawned six Top 200 Billboard Hits with “Love Bites” hitting Number 1. Their next album Adrenalize also hit Number 1 in the US and UK. As of today….Def Leppard has been one of the most successful metal bands selling over 100 Million total albums world wide. They are also one of only five bands to sell over 10 million copies of 2 Studio Albums. I think these numbers have to make Def Leppard the Number 1 Choice. Also…they have stood the test of time and are still touring to this day. So they really transpired the Early Heavy Metal movement…Hit their peak during the Hair Metal era…still maintained popularity during the thrash and grunge era and are still going strong. Def Leppard are Legends and are a NO DOUBT ABOUT IT Hall
Of Fame Band!


About megadethslayer

36 Years Old Avid Heavy Metal Fan and Sports Nut

5 responses to “80’s HAIR METAL TOP BANDS

  1. aaron ⋅

    OK, Bird. You have been waiting for my picks, so here they are. To me this is the definitive list of top 10 glam metal bands. Please note that I hate the term “hair metal” as it did not exist when the movement was at its peak and really was used as a derogitory term after grunge had taken over. Also please note that I have excluded bands like Def Leppard, KISS, Van Halen, Skid Row, Ozzy Osbourne, Guns n Roses and others who, while they were huge during the era and even may have gone “glam” during the period, they were not truly glam bands because they either predated the scene, transcended the scene or just really were not glam bands by definition. So here is my top 10 list of glam bands!

    10. Quiet Riot. No list would be complete without Quiet Riot, who were not the biggest or most popular glam band, but were the first band from the Sunset Strip to break into the mainstream with their monster single, “Cum On Feel the Noize,” a cover of the Slade classic song. This was a monster single that had Quiet Riot all over the fledgling new network called MTV and made it even more important for bands to not only write kick ass music and out on a great live show, but also to look cool for television. Metal Health ended up selling millions of copies. Quiet Riot never again matched the success of the Metal Health album, but they left an indelible mark and were a huge cog in sending the glam metal movement into the stratosphere.

    9. W.A.S.P. WASP is another band that made it big from the original Sunset Strip movement. Their stage show was a mix of glam and goth-violent and energetic. Blackie Lawless would throw raw meat into the crowd and their song “Animal, Fuck Like a Beast” landed them on Tipper Gore’s filthy fifteen list. This was the beginning of parental advisory stickers on albums, and all they did was make kids want the albums more because now, there was a danger about having them that made it more exciting. WASP’S video for “I Wanna Be Somebody” was another MTV stalwart in the early days.

    8. Dokken. George Lynch is one of the defining guitar players of the era and Dokken pumped out single after single in the glam MTV era. Don Dokken is one of trhe best vocalist to have come from the era as well. Dokken was all over MTV with videos like “Burnin’ Like a Flame” and “Dream Warriors” which was the title track and lead single for the hit 3rd film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

    7. RATT. RATT were one of the true kings of the original Sunset Strip glam metal movement and also one of the original wave of bands from the scene to find themselves all over MTV with singles like “Round and Round,” “Lay It Down,” and “You’re in Love.” RATT continued to release hit singles throughout the 80’s and into the early 90s including the single “Nobody Rides for Free” from the Point Break soundtrack. Warren DeMartini is one of the most polished guitar players from the era and RATT also has the distinction of being one of the only LA bands to let Metallica open for them before they headed to the Bay Area to create their own legacy away from the LA glam scene.

    6. LA GUNS. LA Guns formed from the ashes of Guns n Roses centered around hot shot guitar player Traci Guns and vocalist Phil Lewis. LA Guns were sleazy and truly defined the era. Not as raw and heavy as Guns n Roses, they still seemed dangerous. Traci Guns appearing with short hair in the “Ballad of Jayne” video and all tattoed up with short hair in the “Its Over Now” video seemed way ahead of its time and truly foreshadowed the 90s.

    5. Faster Pussycat. Faster Pussycat was such a huge part of the Sunset Strip glam metal scene that no list is complete without them. Taime Downe co-owned the Cathouse with Riki Rachtman of Headbangers Ball fame which was THE number one hangout for metalheads, bands and groupies in the 80s along with the Rainbow Bar and Grill. Faster Pussycat defined sleaze and also had their moment on MTV with the hit singe “House of Pain.”

    4. Twisted Sister. Dee Snider became the larger than life clown figure that put metal all over MTV in the mid 80s with the videos for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock.” For a time, Twisted Sister were as popular as any band in the world. Dee Snider led the charge in court to defend metal and rock n roll in general against Tipper Gore and her cohorts along with the likes of Frank Zappa and Blackie Lawless among others. Dee Snider has always carried the flag for metal and to this day hosts a sindicated heavy metal radio show. Twister Sister’s popularity was fleeting as their follow up album to the hit “Stay Hunrgy,” “Come Out and Play,” did not sell nearly as well. Their next abum, “Love is For Suckers” would be their last for many years as it did not sell at all. Still, their mark is undeniable and they absolutely belong on this list.

    3. Warrant. Jani Lane is arguably the best song writer from the era. Warrant not only had the glam look, the hit songs and the hooks, but Jani Lane’s lyrics were emotional, heartfelt and at times riveting. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is as good an example of story telling as you wil ever find in music. Songs like “All My Bridges Are Burning” spoke of addiction with lyrics that made you see who and what he was singing about. Warrant is most known for their hit single “Cherry Pie” which was written in minutes at the last minute because the record company wanted a lead hit single. It is a shame that Warrant became defined by that single and it ate at Jani Lane until his tragic death last year from alcoholism. Warrant was so much more than Cherry Pie and are one of, if not THE best band to come from the Sunset Strip glam metal era.

    2. Poison. No band perhaps defines the glam metal era more than Poison. No band looked more glam than Poison and Poison backed it up with amazing live shows and hit singles, one after another. Poison was all over MTV in the 80s with a look that was perfect for the era. Bret Micheals is one of the most charismatic frontmen to come from the era and CC Deville’s guitar tone is distinctly recognizable as his. Poison is one of those bands where everyone, even the casual fan, could name every member of the band. Bret Micheals, CC Deville, Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall. Bobby Dall once said, “I never wanted to be a great musician, I wanted to be a rockstar, and that’s what I became.” Poison were the quintissential rockstars.

    1. Motley Crue. No band was more decadent and sleaszy and dangerous and had the impact as Motley Crue did. Motley Crue didn’t just do drugs, they did all the drugs. The glam metal scene was about excess, and Motley Crue defined excess. Motley was another of the original bands from the Sunset Strip scene who made it big, and they are still selling out arenas today. No band from the era can match Motley Crue’s success. The Crue were also MTV darlings with hit singles and videos for songs like “Smokin In the Boysroom,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Shout at the Devil” and many many more. Motley Crue basically invented the power ballad as we know it with the hit single, “Home Sweet Home.” Motley Crue is another band where even the casual fan can name every member. Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Nikke Sixx. Their exploits and relationships away from the band are tabloid fodder and they have also all enjoyed success away from the band with books, reality tv, radio shows and side projects. Long live the Crue!

    • Awesome List Bro! I see we had some of the same bands and there were a few u had that I left off. I guess if you look at the way that you portrayed it as far as strictly “glam” metal bands as opposed to including bands that were above the group then it totally makes sense. I totally forgot about WASP…they definitely should be on the list. And then Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister. Now I had Skid Row, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi on my list instead of these bands. I guess there is a matter of opinion which bands do truly belong in this group. I guess my question to you is…if these “multi level bands” we’re included…how would your list be different. We both had Warrant as number 3 on the list. And u had Mötley Crüe as Number 1 while I had Def Leppard. But our list was similar besides the bands that you did not include.

  2. aaron ⋅

    You have to exclude bands that are not strictly glam or the list would include Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Guns n Roses, Ozzy, Kiss, Queensryche etc. It’s not that certain bands are “above” the scene as you say. It’s just that these bands are not truly “glam bands” by definition. Kiss, for example, wore full on kabuki makeup in the 70s, but in the 80’s had reinvented themselves with hair band hooks and a glam look to match. Aerosmith and Ozzy, also veterans of 70’s rock, teased their hair and wrote songs with big riffs and bigger hooks in an effort to stay relevent with the times. Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were so much bigger than the scene as well-two of the biggest bands of all time. You have to separate the bands that were directly part of the scene from other bands that just happened to be around at the same time when certain fashions and styles were “in.” Queensryche were popular during the glam era and during the grunge era., for example.

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