Call it what you will, Glam Metal, Hair Metal, Cock Rock or plain old '80s metal, there is something to be said for an entire subculture that extended from the late '70s and into the early '90s that still has the power to influence art, music and culture today, as a force that refuses to wash off its makeup and die.
Although admittedly, Glam Metal is an acquired taste, the lasting legacy of certain bands cannot be denied. Music fans today both young and old, share a longing for a time when spandex, Kabuki-style fashion, aqua net, fire, monster ballads, glitter and guitars were mandatory for any rock or metal show. Of course, the lifestyle for many bands, and groupies included the cliché diet of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.
This list, although conforming to the obvious choices for the top bands of the era, tried to go outside of the box with several picks, to encompass bands that might not otherwise be considered Glam or even Hair Metal, but were for whatever reason lumped into the scene. This is NOT done as a pejorative, to the contrary, some of these bands transcended the musical boundaries of shock rock, prog rock, power metal and even proto speed metal.
With that said, whether you're old enough to be Dee Snider's wife or young enough to be his daughter, bust out the hairspray, leather vest, and your tight pants and get ready to rock like it was 1985, again. Enjoy the Top Ten Glam Metal bands of All Time.10.LA GUNS
LA Guns came onto the scene in the mid '80s, but by the time the band's second release,Cocked and Loaded
in 1989, the band had defined 'cock rock' with their glammed-out biker style looks, a foundation in classic/hard rock, with a harder edge that many fans adored. Formed in 1983 by guitarist Traci Guns, the band had many early line up changes, including at one point singer Axl Rose. But six years later, the band hit a note with hordes of fans, with their hit "The Ballad of Jayne," which turned the group into a huge success. With more than over dozen albums, and tours with AC/DC, Def Leppard, and Iron Maiden, the current, active version of LA Guns features no original members.9.Loudness
Hailing from Japan, this international heavy metal group combines power metal with glam metal's nuances, and cheesy, yet powerfully loud songs with a good backdrop of heavy bass and hard drumming. The guitar playing is solid with crunchy riffs and catchy melodies and virtuoso style solos. The singer alternates in and out of high pitch screams and operatic singing with more than one vocalist, creating songs that are memorable and meant to be experienced live.
Formed in 1980, by guitarist Akira Takasaki , and drummer Munetaka Higuchi, the band performed what might be considered early traditional metal in the vein of Van Halen and AC/DC. With a discography that includes 25 albums, the band is not as commercially successful in America as they are in Europe and Asia. Still active, Loudness has undergone many line up changes, and sadly lost original drummer Higuchi from liver cancer in late 2008.8.Twisted Sister
How could we talk about Glam Metal, and not mention Twisted Sister? Lead singer Dee Snider's larger-than-life looks, persona and voice come out to scream at listeners with Twisted Sister, who in the early days were a mix AC/DC and Iron Maiden that had a very accessible, yet punk-driven sound based on rebellion, making the band an icon and symbol for the generation of the 80s. They became a household name in the late 80s, with the hit singles 'I wanna Rock,' and the timeless 'We're Not Gonna Take It,' (both from 1984'sStay Hungry
) which were both all over radio and MTV constantly. Both songs became anthems for a generation of kids into heavy metal music, when it wasn't cool, and society rejected it, and attacked metal heads.
Twisted Sister also generated some controversy, when Tipper Gore and other politicians, from the Parents Music Resource Center(PMRC ) in 1985, for their song lyrics, targeted it. Snider took offense and went on the attack to defend heavy metal music, testifying before Congress in a hearing that is available online, but is classic for any fans of the history of heavy metal in the 80s. Twisted Sister is essential for anyone into this era of metal. Be sure to check out the debut album Under the Blade from 1982, You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll's from 1983, and the essential Stay Hungry from 1984.7.Lizzy Borden
Although Lizzy Borden might be considered more of a shock rock type of metal band band, for better or worse, they were from Hollywood, and were lumped into the early LA glam metal scene. This band was all about a live stage show with each performance. The band name originates from an infamous hatchet murderess in the late 1800s. Lizzy Borden's theatrical take on heavy metal was full of the typical glam metal style at the time, tons of spandex, and Aqua net, but it also made sure to include blood, corpse paint and the fantasy like set of characters brought to life through music. Think of Lizzy Borden as glam metal's answer to Alice Cooper on speed. With a very thunderous, power metal vibe, and signature echoing high-pitched vocals and sharp traditional guitar riffs; the band ten albums under its belt and millions of albums sold worldwide.
Lizzy Borden still rages to this day, flying the flag of heavy metal world wide, with a career spawning three decades and counting, and no plans on stopping in the future. With classic early albums such as Give Em The Axe and Love You To Pieces, Lizzy Borden might please fans of Judas Priest, and even Anthrax or early Slayer.6.Hanoi Rocks
Some credit this band from Finland with inventing the whole Glam Metal style in the early days of the 80s, with the definitive sound, that paved the way for bands such as Guns N Roses, Motley Crue and a horde of others who saw massive commercial success in the early '80s.
Formed 33 years ago, by guitarist Andy McCoy, and singer Michael Monroe, the band would ultimately undergo numerous lines up changes. The best-known line up consisting of McCoy and Nasty Suicide on guitars bassist Sam Yaffa and drummer Nicholas 'Razzle' Dingley. Taking inspiration and styles from 70s glam rock bands, proto-punk and even rock bands like Queen, The New York Dolls and AC/DC, Hanoi Rocks, made it a point to bring out the flamboyant androgynous image with the edge of a rock band. Imagine the Adicts, meets Bon Jovi, but better, and before it was popular. The band's debut album, from 1981, Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes Hanoi Rocks set the template for most glam metal bands to follow.
Hanoi Rocks was very successful in the UK and the rest of Europe, but in 1983, after a year of a U.S. tour, drummer tragedy struck, when Nicholos 'Razzle' Dingley was killed. The band was partying in Redondo Beach, California, with American band Motley Crue, when Dingley and Motley Crue singer Vince Neil took a drive to a local liquor store to buy more beer, while both were drunk. Neil Survived the car accident almost unharmed, but sadly, Dingley was killed instantly, putting the band on a slow, downward spiral from then on. Be sure to also check out the bands other early albums such as Oriental Beat and Self Destruction Blues.Although the band reformed over a decade ago, in 2002, the legacy and lasting impact of Hanoi Rocks' early music, should not be over looked. The band had many followers and was looked up to by members of prominent figures in the early Glam Metal scene, many of whom are said to have interpreted the style and image of the band.5.WASP
Perhaps not quite a 'glam' metal band but from the same era and more theatrical metal than anything else, WASP always had a bit of a darker edge and even sound than other 'Hair Metal' bands of the 80s. WASP's self-titled album from 1984 is a true gem. With the classic single 'I want to Be Somebody.' Their 1985 albumThe Last Command
contained the song 'Animal(Fuck Like a Beast),' which earned the band publicity when (along with another band on this list, Twisted Sister) several prominent politicians for censorhip of music attacked the lyrical content and imagery. Despite earning the band infamy for being a target of the PRMC, and former guitarist Chris Holmes, who was featured in a drunken stupor chugging vodka in the documentaryThe Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal years
, WASP should be credited for its longevity, and contribution to the 80s metal scene and sound.4.RATT
Led by singer and main songwriter Stephen Percy, RATT were a massively popular glam metal band that helped to usher in the commercial success of the sub culture and its music, based in LA. This is the band that had loud anthemic songs that became the epitome of the glam sound. With their best known 1984 platinum single, 'Round and Round,' (from the1984 albumOut of the Cellar
) and that world famous intro guitar riff, the band earned an eternal rotation spot on radio rock stations like KLOS, where it can still be heard to this day. 'Round and Round,' is a staple '80s heavy metal song that rose to prominence.
Even after more than three decades, and many line up changes over the years, RATT are together again, with original line up, including singer Pearcy, drummer Bobby Blotzer, bass player Juan Croucier, and guitarist Warren DeMartinni, and are in plans to record a new record. The band has toured the world over and sold tens of millions of albums in its career.3.Skid Row
Without a doubt, Skid Row's first two albums left a long lasting impression on the '80s Glam Metal scene, even though they were somewhat latecomers. Springing onto the scene in the mid 1980s, alongside superstar Bon Jovi, the band's best, and most well known line up consisted of founding members guitarist Dave 'The Snake' Sabo and bass player Rachel Dolan, along with additional guitarist Scott Hill, front man Sebastian Bach, and drummer Rob Affuso. Glam was never this heavy, but a band like Skid Row did a good job splicing the aggression and styles of both hard rock, early metal and glam, to a style that stood out because of Bach's talented vocals.
Armed with a talented voice, beautiful blonde hair, and the hard edge to match soft cheesy ballads, Sebastian Bach's performance on the band's two first albums, 1989's self titled release, and 1991's Slave To the Grind are still fan favorites, to up and coming bands such as Asking Alexandria, Pierce The Veil, Black Veil Brides and a slew of many others. Classic hit tunes from the self-titled album include 'Youth Gone Wild,' and '18 and Life.' The current incarnation of the band, features new vocalist Johnny Solinger.2.Motley Crue
These guys are arguably the most successful of the so-called hair metal bands. Motley Crue was also one of the most hedonistic. If there was one band that had to symbolize the entire sub culture of the '80s metal bands and the decadent lifestyle bands led, it would be Motley Crue.
With the founding members, powerhouse drummer Tommy Lee and bass player Nikki Sixx, along with of course guitarists Mick Mars and lead singer Vince Neil, Motley Crue is recognized world wide as one America's biggest rock bands. With classic slabs from the '80s like "Shout At The Devil," "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Theater of Pain," and "Dr. Feelgood," Motley Crue wrote heavier songs that were hell bent on detailing the band's exploits with booze, drugs and women. The band's debut album, Too Fast For Love is more punk influenced rock sound, and is also considered a classic glam metal album.
Glam Metal just wouldn't be the same, without the pioneering sounds of Motley Crue, who not only developed the style and sound but also took it to new levels of excess and success. Even after over thirty years, numerous brushes with the law, struggles with drug addictions countless tattoos, and even a brush with the Grim Reaper(bassist Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin in 1987 and was dead for two minutes, then revived), the band is still intact with all original members in 2013.1. Guns N'Roses
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What can we possibly say about Guns N' Roses that hasn't already been said already? Aside from being labeled at one point the 'World's Most Dangerous Rock Band' Guns N' Roses brought back the "hard" in hard rock, and were able to be just Glam enough in their early days, to compete with bands such as Motley Crue, RATT, Poison or Cinderella. What gave GNR the fuel to wreak havoc on the music industry was the amazing chemistry between lead singer Axl Rose and the extraordinary guitar hero Slash. No offense to the current version of the band, with only original member being Axl Rose, but nothing will ever come close to the magic of the classic line up of guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, bass player Duff Mackagn and drummer Steven Adler. The quintessential hard rock masterpiece album,Appetite for Destruction
is not only a must have for rock/metal fans, it's a must have for music fans, earning GNR the top spot.