Hard rock is a genre of music that originated in the early 1960s. Though it was initially met with mixed reactions, by the 1980s, hard rock had become one of the most popular genres of music. This definitive guide of the best 80s hard rock bands will explore the origins of hard rock, its biggest stars and how it evolved into one of the most popular genres of music in the 80s.
Defining Hard Rock
Hard rock is a genre of rock music that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It developed from blues rock and psychedelic rock, and is characterized by heavy guitar riffs, bass lines, and drums. Hard rock became popular in the 1980s with bands such as Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, and Guns N’ Roses.
While hard rock generally refers to a heavier sound, it can also include bands with a more pop-oriented sound. For example, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is considered hard rock even though it has a catchy hook and is more radio-friendly than some of the other songs on this list.
Some of the most popular hard rock bands from the 1980s are:
– Van Halen
– Guns N’ Roses
The Beginnings of Hard Rock
Hard rock is a genre of rock that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hard rock bands typically have heavy guitar riffs and distorted sound. The genre is often associated with a macho image and male-dominated audiences.
The first hard rock band is generally considered to be Led Zeppelin, who formed in 1968. Led Zeppelin’s sound was influenced by the blues and incorporated elements of folk music. Other early hard rock bands include The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Cream. Hard rock reached its commercial peak in the 1980s with bands such as Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Quiet Riot, and Van Halen.
The term “hair metal” is sometimes used to describe the fashion and image of 1980s hard rock bands. Hair metal bands often had long hair, tight jeans, and heavily made-up faces. They were also known for their hedonistic lifestyles and on-stage antics such as pyrotechnics and stage diving.
The Golden Age of Hard Rock
When it comes to hard rock, the 80s was definitely the golden age. There were so many great bands around at the time, each with their own unique sound.
Some of the best 80s hard rock bands include:
– Guns N’ Roses
– Def Leppard
– Van Halen
Each of these bands had a huge impact on the genre, and their music is still just as popular today as it was back then. If you’re a fan of hard rock, then you owe it to yourself to check out some of these classic bands.
The Decline of Hard Rock
The 1980s were a golden age for hard rock bands. But by the end of the decade, the genre was in decline. There are a number of factors that contributed to this decline.
First, hair metal bands had become increasingly popular in the late 1980s. These bands were often more interested in style over substance, and they alienated many hard rock fans.
Second, grunge music became popular in the early 1990s. This new genre was a reaction against the excesses of hair metal, and it quickly eclipsed hard rock in popularity. With bands such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam quickly rising to prominence, hard rock bands were no longer the kings of the music world.
Third, many of the biggest hard rock bands from the 1980s either broke up or stopped releasing new music by the end of the decade. This left fans without new music to listen to, and further contributed to hard rock’s decline.
Despite these factors, there are still some great hard rock bands active today. If you’re a fan of classic hard rock from the 1980s, be sure to check out some of these newer bands
The Resurgence of Hard Rock
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of hard rock bands. These groups are inspired by the sounds of the 80s and early 90s, when hard rock was at its peak. Hard rock bands are known for their heavy guitars, powerful vocals, and driving rhythms.
There are many new hard rock bands that are making a name for themselves. Some of these groups include:
– Foo Fighters
– Queens of the Stone Age
– Royal Blood
– The Struts
– Rival Sons
These bands are keeping the spirit of hard rock alive and well. They are attracting new fans to the genre, while also pleasing longtime fans. If you’re looking for a good hard rock band to check out, any of these would be a great choice.
The Best 80s Hard Rock Bands
The 80s were a great decade for hard rock, with many bands releasing classic albums that are still revered today. Here are some of the best 80s hard rock bands:
Poison is an American rock band that achieved great commercial success in the 1980s. The band has sold over 50 million records worldwide and has been described as one of the most influential hard rock bands of the decade.
Poison’s debut album, “Look What the Cat Dragged In”, was released in 1986 and was a commercial success, reaching number three on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and has sold over four million copies in the United States. The band’s second album, “Open Up and Say… Ahh!”, was released in 1988 and reached number two on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was certified double platinum by the RIAA and has sold over five million copies in the United States.
In 1989, Poison released their third album, “Flesh & Blood”. The album reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum by the RIAA. It has sold over four million copies in the United States.
Poison’s fourth album, “Native Tongue”, was released in 1993 and reached number three on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was certified gold by the RIAA and has sold over one million copies in the United States.
The Scorpions are one of the best hard rock bands of the 1980s. They formed in Germany in 1965 and rose to prominence with their 1984 album, “Love at First Sting.” The album featured the hit singles “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “No One Like You,” which helped the band break into the American market. The Scorpions have sold over 100 million records worldwide and are still active today.
The band’s 1986 album, “Savage Amusement”, was another commercial success, reaching number one in Germany and number seven on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was certified platinum by the RIAA and has sold over one million copies in the United States.
In 1988, the Scorpions released their ninth studio album, “Sting in the Tail”. The album was another success, reaching number two in Germany and number six on the Billboard 200 chart. It was certified platinum by the RIAA and has sold over one million copies in the United States.
Mötley Crüe is one of the most iconic hard rock bands of the 1980s. The band was formed in 1981 by bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, with guitarist Mick Mars and vocalist Vince Neil joining soon after. Mötley Crüe quickly rose to fame with their debut album, Too Fast for Love, which was released independently in 1981. The album was so successful that it caught the attention of Elektra Records, who signed the band and re-released the album in 1982.
Mötley Crüe went on to release a string of successful albums throughout the 1980s, including Shout at the Devil (1983), Theatre of Pain (1985), Girls, Girls, Girls (1987), and Dr. Feelgood (1989). The band also became well-known for their outrageous stage antics, which included pyrotechnics, motorcycles, and fire breathing.
Despite their success, Mötley Crüe went through a number of lineup changes throughout the years. In 1992, Vince Neil left the band and was replaced by John Corabi. Six years later, Tommy Lee left Mötley Crüe to joinMethods of Mayhem, and was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo.
In 1999, Mötley Crüe reunited with Vince Neil, and the classic lineup has remained together ever since. The band continues to tour and release new music, and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Dio is one of the most influential and well-known hard rock bands of the 1980s. The band was founded by singer and songwriter Ronnie James Dio, who had previously been a member of Black Sabbath. Dio’s unique style of heavy metal combined elements of fantasy and horror, which quickly made them a favorite among metal fans. The band’s biggest hits include “Holy Diver”, “Rainbow in the Dark”, and “The Last in Line”.
During their career, Dio released ten studio albums, with their final album, “Magica”, being released in 2000. Ronnie James Dio passed away in 2010, but the band continues to tour and release new music with his replacement, former Judas Priest singer Rob Halford.
Slayer was one of the most influential metal bands of the 1980s. The band’s aggressive, fast-paced style of music helped to pioneer the thrash metal genre. The band members, who are all from Southern California, first came together in 1981.
Slayer’s debut album, “Show No Mercy”, was released in 1983 and was an instant success among metal fans. The band went on to release a string of successful albums throughout the 1980s, including “Hell Awaits” (1985), “Reign in Blood” (1986), and “South of Heaven” (1988).
In the 1990s, Slayer’s popularity continued to grow, thanks in part to their highly successful album, “Seasons in the Abyss”. Slayer’s lyrics often dealt with dark and violent subject matter, which helped to set them apart from other bands in the metal scene. The band released a number of successful albums during the 1980s, including “Reign in Blood” and “South of Heaven.”
Ozzy Osbourne is a British musician, actor, and reality television star who first rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He was fired from the band in 1979 and went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums.
His biggest hits include “Crazy Train,” “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” and “No More Tears.” Osbourne has also appeared on reality TV shows such as The Osbournes and Celebrity Apprentice.
No one rocked the 80s more than AC/DC. The Australian band was formed in 1973 by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. AC/DC’s music is characterized by its heavy guitar riffs and power chord progressions. The band is also well-known for their suggestive lyrics and on-stage antics, which often involved Angus Young wearing schoolboy uniforms.
AC/DC rose to prominence in the late 1970s with their album “Highway to Hell”, which was followed by the release of their best-selling album, “Back in Black”, in 1980. The band continued to enjoy success throughout the 1980s with albums such as “For Those About to Rock We Salute You” (1981) and “Flick of the Switch” (1983).
In the 1990s, AC/DC underwent a number of lineup changes, but they continued to release successful albums, including “The Razor’s Edge” (1990) and “Ballbreaker” (1995). The band is still going strong today and continues to tour and release new music.
Judas Priest is one of the most iconic and influential hard rock bands of all time. They were one of the first bands to really pioneer the sound and style of heavy metal, and their impact can still be felt today. Judas Priest was formed in Birmingham, England in 1969, and they released their debut album, Rocka Rolla, in 1974.
From there, they went on to release a string of classic albums including Sad Wings of Destiny ( 1976), Sin After Sin (1977), Stained Class (1978), Hell Bent for Leather (1979), British Steel (1980), Point of Entry (1981), Screaming for Vengeance (1982), Defenders of the Faith (1984), Turbo (1986), Ram It Down (1988), Painkiller (1990). Each one of these albums helped to shape the sound and style of heavy metal as we know it today. Judas Priest is truly a legendary band, and they continue to influence generations of metalheads all over the world.
Pantera was an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas. The group was formed in 1981 by the Abbott brothers – drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell – along with vocalist Terry Glaze. Bassist Rex Brown joined the band the following year, replacing Tommy D’Angela. Pantera’s first four albums were certified gold or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Black Sabbath was one of the most influential hard rock bands of the 1980s. The band’s dark, heavy sound helped pioneer the genre and influenced a generation of metal bands.
Black Sabbath’s music is characterized by its dark lyrics and themes, which often deal with topics like death, addiction, and mental illness. The band’s debut album, Black Sabbath, was released in 1970 and is considered one of the greatest metal albums of all time.
Aerosmith is one of the most successful hard rock bands of all time. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, they were one of the first bands to really merge elements of blues and rock together. With hits like “Walk This Way,” “Dream On,” and “Sweet Emotion,” they quickly rose to prominence in the 1970s.
While their early years were defined by drug use and internal conflict, they managed to overcome these obstacles to become one of the most successful hard rock bands of all time. In fact, they are one of the best-selling American music groups of all time, having sold over 150 million records worldwide.
If you’re a fan of hard rock, then you owe it to yourself to check out Aerosmith. They are truly one of the best bands in the genre.
ZZ Top is a hard American rock band formed in Texas in 1969. The band members are guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, bassist and co-lead vocalist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard. The band has released 15 studio albums, seven of which have reached the top 10 of the US Billboard 200 chart. ZZ Top is known for their blues-influenced style of music and their long beards.
Known for their Texas sizzle guitar riffs and bluesy vocals, ZZ Top is one of the most iconic hard rock bands of all time. If you’re a fan of classic rock, then you need to check out ZZ Top. They are truly one of the best bands in the genre.
Originating in England in 1975, Motörhead is considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock. The band was founded by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, who was the only constant member of the band until his death in 2015.
Motörhead’s music is characterized by fast tempos, aggressive rhythm guitar work, and raw vocals. The band’s lyrics often deal with topics such as war, violence, addiction, and sex.
The band released 22 studio albums over the course of their career, including some of hard rock’s most iconic albums such as “Ace of Spades” (1980), “Overkill” (1979), and “Bomber” (1979). Motörhead also had a number of hit singles, such as “Ace of Spades,” “Killed by Death,” and “Eat the Rich.”
While Motörhead never achieved mainstream success in the United States, the band was extremely popular in Europe and had a devoted following among hard rock fans around the world. Motörhead is considered one of the most influential bands in heavy metal history and their music has inspired generations of subsequent musicians.
Dream Theater is one of the most influential progressive metal bands of all time. Hailing from Long Island, New York, Dream Theater has been making music together since 1985. The band currently consists of guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, drummer Mike Mangini, and keyboardist Jordan Rudess.
Dream Theater is known for their complex song structures and musicianship. Their songs often include multiple time signature changes and are heavily layered with instrumentation. Petrucci is considered to be one of the best guitarists in the world, and his solos are a highlight of any Dream Theater song.
The band has released fourteen studio albums, the most recent being 2019’s Distance Over Time. They have also released three live albums and three compilation albums. Dream Theater has sold over 15 million records worldwide and won numerous awards throughout their career.
There’s no question that Van Halen was one of the defining hard rock bands of the 1980s. With their combination of catchy hooks, shredding guitar solos, and larger-than-life personality, they were a force to be reckoned with both on the radio and on the concert stage.
Formed in Pasadena, California in 1972, Van Halen originally consisted of brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen on guitars and drums respectively, along with bassist Mark Stone and singer David Lee Roth. Roth would soon become the band’s breakout star with his flamboyant stage presence and unique vocal style.
The band’s self-titled debut album was released in 1978 to critical acclaim. It featured some of their most iconic songs like “Runnin’ With The Devil” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”, which helped to cement their place as one of the premier hard rock bands of the era.
Over the course of their career, Van Halen would go on to release a total of twelve studio albums, selling over 80 million copies worldwide in the process. Though they experienced several lineup changes over the years (most notably with Roth leaving and being replaced by Sammy Hagar), they remained a powerhouse throughout the 1980s and beyond.
Iron Maiden is one of the most influential and iconic hard rock bands of the 1980s. They were formed in London in 1975 by bassist and singer Steve Harris, and they released their debut album, Iron Maiden, in 1980. Iron Maiden went on to release a string of successful albums throughout the 1980s, including The Number of the Beast (1982), Piece of Mind (1983), Powerslave (1984), and Somewhere in Time (1986).
They are also known for their pioneering use of Eddie, a skeletal creature who has appeared on nearly all of their album covers. Iron Maiden continues to tour and release new music today, and they are widely considered to be one of the best hard rock bands of all time.
When thinking back to the hard rockin’ 80s, no list would be complete without mentioning Metallica.Formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, Metallica is one of the most commercially successful and influential heavy metal bands of all time. The band currently consists of guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo.
Metallica is one of the most successful and influential heavy metal bands of all time. They formed in 1981 and released their debut album, Kill ‘Em All, in 1983. Since then, they have released nine studio albums, five live albums, three EPs, 27 singles, and 10 music videos. Metallica is one of the best-selling bands of all time with over 125 million records sold worldwide. They have won nine Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1985, the group originally consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. With the release of the classic album ‘Appetite for Destruction’ in 1987, Guns N’ Roses became one of the world’s most popular bands. Guns N’ Roses soared to the top mainly on the merits of only one studio album.
The band went on to release a number of successful albums throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, including ‘G N’ R Lies’ (1988), ‘Use Your Illusion I’ & ‘II’ (1991), and ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ (1993). Though the band has undergone several lineup changes over the years, they continue to tour and release new music today.
In conclusion, the 80s hard rock bands were a definitive force in the music industry. They brought a new level of energy and excitement to the genre that is still evident today. If you’re a fan of hard rock, then these bands are definitely worth checking out.