The 1980s saw heavy metal go mainstream and reach a large audience worldwide. The genre was split into sub-genres like Glam Metal, Thrash Metal, Speed Metal, NWOBHM, Traditional Metal and more. Regardless of which sub-genre you preferred, there was no doubt that heavy metal music absolutely ruled the 80s music scene. The metal scene during this time period was crowded with bands all vying for attention and radio/video airplay. We’ve put together a huge list of over 200 (241 to be exact) of the best hard rock and metal bands from the 80s that you need to check out and hopefully give a listen to.
Here’s The Entire List In Alphabetical Order:
After becoming a rock n’ roll sensation from Australia, AC/DC was on track to take the world by storm. However, tragedy struck as Bon Scott was found dead after reportedly choking on his own vomit, while unconscious, from a long night of drinking. Each album release had propelled the band to higher charts, but Scott’s death was almost too much for the band to overcome. The band considered disbanding but decided to move forward with a new vocalist, Brian Johnson. In 1981 AC/DC released Back In Black with “Hell’s Bells” in tribute to the late Bon Scott with Johnson on vocals. It would prove to be one of the best-selling albums in rock. The band continued right where they left off and were able to grow an incredible worldwide fan base.
This German metal band was highly overlooked in the U.S during their run of great albums in the 80s. The single “Balls To The Wall” brought them to a larger metal audience around the world, but starting with their self-titled album in 1979, they established themselves as a force to be reconned with. The classic lineup released I’m A Rebel (1980), Breaker (1981), Restless And Wild (1982), Balls To The Wall (1983), Metal Heart (1985), Russian Roulette (1986), and finally Eat The Heat in 1989 which featured American vocalist David Reece and featured a more mainstream sound. However, Udo Dirkschneider would return for several albums before departing for good. The band currently features ex-TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo who has been with the band since 2010.
After imploding from drugs and in-fighting between band members in the 70s, Aerosmith reunited in 1985 with the album “Done With Mirrors”. While it received an average rating from most critics, it was the start of a new era for the band which would be followed up by Permanent Vacation (1987), and Pump in 1989 which saw the band having some of their highest ranking albums and songs of their career. Aerosmith has hit the mainstream rock charts and was all over MTV and radio stations around the world. The band cemented their legacy with this comeback and are currently still together.
Notable for being the major-label debut of Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, Alcatrazz featured former Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet and was an impressive debut release. Unfortunately, Yngwie left the band after the release of this album. How did the band follow up after losing Malmsteen? Simple. They brought in Steve Vai and helped launch his career even further. Alcatrazz Released The following albums in the 80s: No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll (1983), Disturbing the Peace (1985), Dangerous Games (1986)
The first part of the 80s was not kind to Alice Cooper who has said that he doesn’t even remember recording some of the songs on albums like “Flush The Fashion (1980), Special Forces (1981), Zipper Catches Skin (1982), and Dada (1983). After getting clean and sober Alice returned to his rightful place in rock with Constrictor (1986), Raise Your Fist And Yell (1987), and Trash in 1989. These albums saw Alice Cooper reaching a new generation with glam metal being in fashion at the time. With the aid of these three albums and airplay on MTV, Alice Cooper became a household name once again. Alice continues to this day and still commands a loyal following of fans.
Angel Witch is probably most notable for being a part of the New Wave Of the British Heavy Metal movement. With the release of albums Angel Witch (1980), Screamin’ ‘n’ Bleedin’ (1985), and Frontal Assault (1986), the names told you what kind of music it was. Their self-titled album is considered a classic album from the NWOBHM and still stands as one of the most notable metal albums of that scene. The band has returned with different lineups over the years, with a slightly more modern sound but recognizable nonetheless.
Attempting to hit on the sound of guitar slingers like Van Halen and George Lynch, Angelica went for a more glam-sounding singer, similar to Mark Slaughter. The original vocalist was replaced by Rob Rock and Dennis Cameron had this to say about the band: “Angelica started as a vision that I had for an ideal band full of believer musicians”. The band hit the power ballad fans and those who like a skillful guitarist but never went much farther than that outside of the Christian Metal market.
After Loudness broke through as the first mainstream Japanese heavy metal band, many bands tried to follow their lead. One of the best Japanese bands to hit the scene was Anthem. The band still continues to release new albums, periodically. Bound To Break was the band’s biggest success in the United States, but failed to capture the album buyer’s attention at the same level as Loudness. Highly regarded in Japan, the band has a lengthy discography and deserved far more credit overseas than they received.
Anthrax was New York’s version of Thrash, often compared to West Coast bands like Metallica, Flotsam And Jetsam, Megadeth, and Death Angel. While the Bay Area bands of San Francisco had their sound, Anthrax had a more gritty, inner-city feel to it. While the band has had several singers over the years, the classic lineup featuring Joey Belladonna, Dan Spitz, Scott Ian, Frank Bello, and Charlie Benante is the most recognizable. Anthrax released Fistful Of Metal (1984), Armed & Dangerous (1985), Spreading The Disease (1985), Among The Living (1987), and State Of Euphoria in 1988. The classic lineup, minus Dan Spitz is currently touring and performing.
This Canadian metal band released Hard ‘n’ Heavy (1981), Metal on Metal (1982), Forged in Fire (1983), Strength of Steel (1987), and Pound for Pound (1988) in the 80s. Known for outrageous antics, including playing the guitar with a dildo and performing nude, Anvil had gotten great opening slots for other metal bands but failed to reach the same level themselves. Eventually, the band faded into almost obscurity, but the band made a huge comeback after a documentary about the band was released called Anvil!: The Story Of Anvil. Almost like the fictional band Spinal Tap, Anvil had suffered for their art and finally achieved the honor that they had deserved for so many years.
Armored Saint hit the scene as a gritty L.A. version of Judas Priest. The band was busy in the 80s releasing their self-titled EP (1983), March Of The Saint (1984), Delirious Nomad (1985), Raising Fear (1987), and finally with Saint Will Conquer in 1987. The band featured vocalist John Bush, who would later replace Joey Belladonna in Anthrax for many years. Armored Saint had some modest hits with songs like Can U Deliver and their cover version of Lynryd Skynrd’s Saturday Night Special. The band still has a large following of fans and continues to record and tour to this day.
The original lineup of Autograph got together in 1983. The band consisted of vocalist Steve Plunkett, guitarist Steve Lynch, Randy Rand on Bass, Keni Richards on Drums, and Steve Isham on Keyboards. Known primarily for their biggest hit single “Turn Up The Radio”, Autograph released three major albums for RCA Records with this lineup including “Sign In Please”, “That’s The Stuff” and “Loud and Clear”. “Turn Up The Radio” was one of the last songs that the band had recorded for the “Sign In Please album. Apparently, the band thought it was just okay and didn’t feel as strongly about it as some of the other songs on the album. Lucky for them that they included it. It took the album to Gold record status and made it into the top 30 songs chart. The band went back into the studio and recorded the follow-up album “That’s The Stuff” in a rather quick fashion. While it didn’t sell as well as the first album, it came close to achieving the Gold album level as well.
Florida hard rock band AXE mixed heavy guitar with keyboards to create their sound. During the 80s they released Living on the Edge (1980), Offering (1982), and Nemesis in 1983. The band cracked the top 100 charts with the singles “Now Or Never” and “I Think You’ll Remember Tonight”. The band’s sound was much less heavy than the image on their album covers, which made them appear to be more of a heavy metal band.
Axel Rudi Pell
German guitar virtuoso started his career with the band Steeler, not to be confused with the American version featuring Ron Keel and Yngwie Malmsteen. Much like Malmsteen, Pell was regarded as one of the new guitar masters during the 80s. Pell released only one solo album during the 80s called Wild Obsession (1989), but his reputation from Steeler was enough to push his name onto many favorite metal guitarist lists. The band still performs today with an ever-changing lineup with Axel Rudi Pell as the main constant
Baby Tuckoo appeared as part of the second generation of the NWOBHM in 1982. While their recorded output is minimal with just two studio albums, First Born (1984) and Force Majeure (1986) they are still being recognized as a hidden gem by many metal fans around the world who missed them during their initial run in the 80s. Unfortunately, the name Baby Tuckoo doesn’t exactly have a heavy metal sound to it, which may have contributed to their downfall.
Babylon A.D. released their self-titled album in 1989, barely arriving in the 80s. Original members, Derek Davis vocalist/songwriter, guitarists, and music writers Dan De La Rosa and Ron Freschi, drummer Jamey Pacheco and bassist Robb Reid were all in childhood rival bands. They signed to Arista Records and made quite a splash with their debut. Primarily considered a glam or hair metal band, Babylon A.D. was talented and crafted great songs. The band continued to release several great albums with their latest release being “Revelation Highway in 2017.
After Jake E. Lee left or was fired from Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band, he built a bluesy rock band that stands up today as a true classic. The band featured vocalist Ray Gillen who along with Lee’s immaculate guitar skills propelled Badlands to be one of the most criminally underrated hard rock bands of the 80s. The band fused blues with classic rock and metal to create a unique sound. Badlands debuted in 1989 to rave reviews. They followed it up with the impressive Voodoo Highway and ultimately their final release after Gillen’s death Dusk. Eric Singer would later go on to be the longtime drummer in KISS following the death of Eric Carr.
Bang Tango was formed in L.A. in 1988. The original Bang Tango lineup consisted of Joe Leste, Mark Knight, Kyle Kyle, Kyle Stevens, and Tigg Ketler. The band released their critically acclaimed debut album Psycho Cafe in 1989 after signing with MCA records, which included the smash hit “Someone Like You”.
Banshee came from the Midwest part of the USA, in the Kansas City area. And while their image was right in line with the glam/hair metal scene at the time, musically the band had more of a power metal sound. Race Against Time was Banshee’s debut full-length album, which was released on Atlantic Records in 1989 and was a great showcase for their sound which incorporated melody with power metal. The debut album was the only release the band released through Atlantic. The band is still around and has released several albums in recent years, albeit, with a more modern metal sound.
Barren Cross is a metal band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by Two high school friends; Lead Guitarist Ray Parris and Drummer Steve Whitaker. Lead Singer Michael Drive (Lee) had an ad in a local paper looking for a guitarist! Steve then drove to Michael’s house, where he called Ray and had Michael sing on the phone! As soon as they met and played together, the chemistry instantly formed; and two weeks later Michael met Bassist Jim LaVerde; and the rest is history! After recording 6 songs for two demos during 1983 and 1984, “the fires had begun” to burn – to record their first album. The band came close to sounding like Iron Maiden at times and originally was a bit heavier than their contemporaries “Stryper”. . They had their biggest success with Atomic Arena which also saw the band get airplay on MTV.
By The Time Beau Nasty released “Dirty But Well Dressed” in 1989, the glam/hair metal scene was starting to fade. That’s a shame for Beau Nasty because the band showed real potential. With a sound similar to Britny Fox, the band produced some great songs including the album opener “Shake It”, “Piece Of The Action” and “Love Potion #9”.
Bitch went for shock value with songs about bondage and Sado-Masochism. Led by singer Betsy, they offered a different approach than female lead bands like The Runaways, Heart, and Lita Ford. The band signed to Metal Blade Records and released the following albums in the 80s: Be My Slave (1983), The Bitch Is Back (1987), and Betsy( 1989). They were almost known more for their outlandish stage shows than their actual music, but they had a decent run with a different schtick than most.
Black N’ Blue
Black N’ Blue is one of those bands that you just simply have to scratch your head as to why they never hit the top. The band had top-notch talent and delivered four great albums for Geffen records. Guitarist Tommy Thayer would later go on to replace Ace Frehley in KISS. The demos that lead to their debut album were produced by none other than Don Dokken. Every song on this album was great and should have cemented the band as the next big thing. The band reached the pinnacle of their success with MTV airplay for the song “I’ll Be There For You”. The band still performs live and still releases new albums, albeit without Tommy Thayer.
Ozzy Osbourne fronted Black Sabbath in what was known as the classic lineup. The band achieved legendary status during this time. After nine years of recording and touring with Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne was fired and replaced with Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. While no one wanted to follow up Osbourne in Black Sabbath, who are considered along with Led Zeppelin as the Godfathers and originators of heavy metal music, Dio was able to provide a second life to Black Sabbath with two studio albums, Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules as well as the critically acclaimed “Live Evil” album. After Dio left to create his own solo band, Black Sabbath seemed to become a revolving door of singers and was never able to keep a cohesive band or image together for very long.
Black Sheep fronted by Willie Basse released their debut album “Trouble In The Streets” in 1985 on Enigma Records. The band is famous for having more than a few members that would go onto greater fame in other bands including Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Motley Crue) and James Kottak (Kingdom Come, Scorpions). While the production seems a bit hollow on this album, it’s a rarity to even find it anywhere these days.
These guys helped get the Christian metal movement going and still work together today. They have a decent discography that’s definitely rooted in Bible scripture and always seemed more interested in witnessing to their audience than many other bands of the genre. The band was never about trying to get a record deal and hit the “big time.” The main focus of Bloodgood was always to reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Veterans of both the heavy metal and Christian rock scenes, Bloodgood’s unique blend of music and message has amassed both a fan base that appreciates their music and loves God.
Blue Murder was formed when guitarist John Sykes left Whitesnake and teamed up with Carmine Appice and Tony Franklin. The results were an incredible debut album. Still maintaining a similar sound to the material that he had recorded with Davide Coverdale for the best-seeling album “Whitesnake”, Blue Murder had a decent hit with their first single “Valley Of The Kings”. Sykes followed it up several years later with a second Blue Murder album called Nothin’ but Trouble in 1993. The musicianship is excellent and Sykes does an admirable job handling the vocals as well as guitar work.
Bon Jovi is one of the biggest successes of the 80s hard rock scene. The band started with the self-titled album, and early on they had a slightly heavier sound than they developed later on. The band knew exactly how to ride the line between pleasing the hard rockers and sugary ballads for radio airplay. The 80s saw the band release Bon Jovi (1984), 7800° Fahrenheit (1985), Slippery When Wet (1986), and New Jersey (1988) and they turned out to be the hardest that the band rocked. Led by charismatic frontman Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora, the band was hit-making machines throughout the 1980s. Of course, the band is still out there recording and performing but the duo of Bon Jovi and Sambora no longer exists.
German band Bonfire started out under the name Cacumen, later changing to Bonfire for the 1986 album “Don’t Touch the Light” which was followed up by Fireworks (1987) and Point Blank (1989). The band found modest success with their first two albums but were never quite able to break out big in the U.S. They are most often associated with the glam metal scene. The band still exists and has varied lineups throughout the years with guitarist Hans Ziller being the only constant member.
Barely squeaking in at the end of the 80s is Bonham. The band was formed by Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. The band earned a Gold record with their debut album “The Disregard Of Timekeeping”. The band was rounded out by John Smithson, Ian Hatton, and vocalist Daniel MacMaster. The band only released one more album together before Jason Bonham ended the group to pursue a solo career. Daniel MacMaster died in 2008 from a Group A streptococcal infection.
Bow Wow / Vow Wow
Bow Wow is one of the early Japanese metal bands. Starting in the late 70s the band released several albums. In the 80s they released Glorious Road (1980), Telephone (1980), Hard Dog (1981) Asian Volcano (1982), and Warning from Stardust (1982). In 1984 the band changed their name to Vow Wow and released the albums Beat of Metal Motion (1984), Cyclone (1985), III (1986), V (1987) and Vibe (1988). Kyoji Yamamoto is considered a guitar virtuoso and is known for his skillful style.
Starting out with a little heavier sound than most of the others, they switched their sound to appeal more to the hair metal crowd. Kinetic Faith was the beginning of a new era for Bride. Bride was ready to record another album with a new sound and a more technically proficient lineup. Kinetic Faith was to be recorded in a studio in Nashville called the Salt Mine. Kinetic Faith was a complete departure from the music heard on Bride’s first three albums. It was more Rock ‘n’ Roll sounding – with a twist. In the end, it was good enough to put Bride in the mainstream of Christian Music and to win them a DOVE Award for the song, Everybody Knows My Name. While they had some great metal albums, they changed their sound a little too often and ultimately never seemed to have a consistent sound.
These Canadian rockers recorded Young, Wild and Free (1986) and Take a Deep Breath (1988) during the 80s. They followed it up with one more studio album, Love Machine (1991). The album Young Wild and Free brought the singles “We Came to Rock” and “Can’t-Wait for the Night” which charted highly in Canada and eventually went Gold. Take a Deep Breath also garnered the band a Gold record in Canada. However, their success did not expand outside of Canada on a larger scale. The band still has devoted fans and they have reunited several times for charity events.
Britny Fox was formed by former Cinderella members Johnny Kelly and Tony Destra and bassist Billy Childs. Destra was killed in a car accident and was replaced by Johnny Dee. Vocalist Dizzy Dean Davidson sang on the debut album Britny Fox (1988) as well as the follow-up album “Boys In Heat” (1989). The debut album went Gold and earned the band many awards. Boys In Heat failed to be a commercial success and vocalist Dean left the band, later being replaced by Tommy Paris. The band released two more albums before eventually breaking up for good.
The debut album by the Bulletboys was released in 1988. It was produced by former Van Halen producer Ted Templeman. The band received comparisons to Van Halen by many who saw vocalist Marc Torien as the heir apparent to David Lee Roth. The album went Gold from the airplay of the single “Smooth Up In Ya”. The band received heavy rotation of the video on MTV as well. The original lineup did two more albums in the early 90s before splitting up. 2020 saw the Bulletboys original lineup reunite and they are recording material for a new album.
Cacophony only released two albums, Speed Metal Symphony (1987) and Go Off! (1988) but they were a showcase project for guitarists Marty Friedman and Jason Becker. Both albums were released on Shrapnel Records, known for guitar virtuosos. Those albums launched the careers of the then-unknown guitarists. Marty Friedman would later go on to join Megadeth and Becker would join David Lee Roth’s solo band. Jason Becker is now unable to play due to advanced ALS, but still writes music through the aid of a computer, that is performed by other musicians.
Cats In Boots
Another band to unfortunately release their debut album at the end of the glam/hair metal era was Cats In Boots. Vocalist Joel Ellis provided a gritty vocal style and the guitarist and bassist were from the Japanese metal band Seiki Matsu, now known as Seikima. The band’s sound was sleazy and brought to mind a more raw sound of bands like early Motley Crue, Vain, Faster Pussycat, and other sleaze bands. The album was released on EMI in 1989 and critics and fans both seemed to like it.
Chastain started as a project for Shrapnel records with the guitar wizardry of David t. Chastain and the vocals of Leather Leone. Chastain was already in the band CJSS in 1984 when Chastain began. Originally it was intended to be a side project with musicians playing in the studio only. But Chastain proved to be more commercially successful than CJSS was and ultimately began David T. Chastain’s main band. A showcase of excellent guitar skills mixed with gritty vocals made Chastain a powerhouse band. Chastain released Mystery of Illusion (1985), Ruler of the Wasteland (1986), The 7th of Never (1987), The Voice of the Cult (1988), and their most successful album came in 1990 with Those Who Dare. The band is still recording albums today.
Formed in 1982 by Tom Keifer and Eric Brittingham, Cinderella was one of the biggest bands of the ’80s rock and metal era. Following several lineup changes, the band solidified their members with Jeff Labar and Fred Coury. The band’s debut album “Night Songs” was an instant success with comparisons being made to Aerosmith and AC/DC. Cinderella released four critically-acclaimed studio albums, Night Songs (1986), Long Cold Winter (1988), Heartbreak Station (1990), and Still Climbing (1994).
Circus Of Power
Circus Of Power came onto the scene with their debut self-titled album in 1988. Visually and lyrically the band appealed to the biker scene with lead vocalist Alex Mitchell covered in tattoos. Coming from New York, the band had a street-tough attitude with music to match. Their debut album received high praise from critics with Mitchell’s voice drawing comparisons to that of the late Doors singer Jim Morrison. The band would record two more albums in the 90s with Vices (1990) and Magic & Madness (1993). The band reunited in 2017 for the album Four with a new album to be released in 2020.
CJSS is an acronym for the band members’ last names, which are Chastain, Jinkens, Skimmerhorn, and Sharp. The band was formed by guitarist David Chastain. They released two albums in the 80s with Praise The Loud (1986) and World Gone Mad (1986). Chastain’s side project simply called Chastain became more commercially successful and received most of the guitarist’s attention during the rest of the 80s. CJSS reformed in 200 for an album called Kings Of The World.
Notable for featuring former Keel guitarist Marc Ferrari. Cold Sweat was poised to achieve fame and fortune. Featuring a then-unknown vocalist, Rory Cathey, the band often brought comparisons to Dokken. With outstanding vocals and a guitar virtuoso, the comparison to Dokken was easy to see. Unfortunately, the band failed to reach the mainstream heavy metal and rock crowd in terms of taking the next step to the top. Break Out is currently out of print and is a sought-after collector’s item by metal fans. Marc Ferrari has recently written a children’s book and Cathey now fronts the band “The Fifth”
Crimson Glory, whose classic line-up consisted of vocalist Midnight, guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords, and drummer Dana Burnell. The band is considered to be one of the originals in the progressive metal movement, along with Queensrÿche, Dream Theater, Fates Warning. Visually the band was quite different, with the members wearing chrome masks. Crimson Glory released Crimson Glory (1986) and Transcendence (1988) and then followed up in the 90s with Strange and Beautiful (1991) and Astronomica (1999) which featured Wade Black on vocals before calling it a day as a band. Vocalist Midnight died in 2009 from a stomach aneurysm. While he never recorded an album with the band, current Queensryche vocalist Todd La Torre was with the band for a brief period.
Glam metal band, Cry Wolf released their self-titled album in 1989. They received a decent buzz among rock journalists and fans. The band released the album Crunch (1990) which would be their most successful release. The band was originally named Heroes, and the band consisted of Tim Hall (vocals), Steve McKnight (guitar), Phil Deckard (bass), John Freixas (drums), and JC Crampton (Keyboards). Vocalist Tim Hall has drawn comparisons with the vocal style of Stryper’s Michael Sweet.
The first half of the 80s saw The Cult as more of a gothic rock outfit with the albums Dreamtime (1984) and Love (1985) but the band switched gears in a big way when they released Electric (1987) and Sonic Temple (1989). Sounding closer to a bluesier AC/DC kind of rock than their previous albums proved to be commercially successful for the band. With Electric they were appealing to a whole new audience and with Sonic Temple they reached Gold and Platinum-selling levels, charting in the top 10 albums chart. The band continues to this day with the core of the band being vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy.
The D’Molls featured Desi Rexx on vocals, bassist Lizzy Valentine, guitarist S.S. Priest (Diamond Rexx), and Billy Dior on drums. They released their debut album in 1988 on Atlantic Records. The band got their video for “777” featured on MTV, but it did little to sell more copies of the album. The band would go on to release two more albums “Warped” (1990) and Beyond D’Valley Of D’Molls (1997).
Danger Danger released their self-titled debut in 1989 and with the help of MTV had success with the single “Naughty Naughty”. The band mixed a lighter keyboard sound with glam metal to offer a radio-friendly sound. They didn’t release their second album until 1991 and by then the 80s metal genre was already in decline due to changing tastes in music. Currently, the band continues to record and perform and though they have had a few lineup changes over the years including different vocalists, they still have a devoted fanbase.
Texas made its contribution to sleaze metal with Dangerous Toys. They released their self-titled debut in 1989 to decent reviews. With critics comparing vocalist Jason McMaster’s voice to everyone from Bon Scott to Axel Rose. The band appealed to a little more of a rough and tumble kind of crowd than most of the glam bands. LEaming on the straight-ahead rock style of AC/DC to deliver the goods rather than a glamourous look. It seemed to work well and the band did quite well for several albums, but the changing music scene eventually took away any opportunities for major record labels to keep them aboard.
While Glenn Danzig was already known for fronting the punk rock outfits The Misfits and Samhain, the 80s saw Danzig push his solo band in a little more metal direction than his previous bands. Danzig struck a hit with the song “Mother” with his 1988 album, simply titled “Danzig”. And while he maintained decent record sales as a solo act, he never seemed to quite reach the mainstream metal audience again. Danzig still performs as a solo act to this day and recently completed a reunion tour with his former band The Misfits.
Another Japanese band that tried to reach the shores of the U.S., Dead End achieved only modest sales with their Ghost Of Romance album. The band received airplay on MTV with the song “Danse Macabre”, but never really achieved the level of success Of Loudness and X Japan. The band had a unique style and image that was often confusing to American audiences, who were right in the middle of the glam metal movement at the time.
A product of the San Franciso Bay area thrash scene along with bands like Metallica and Megadeth, Death Angel was one of the original bands to start the scene. However, the band struggled to find the mainstream success that many of their peers found. The band has consistently created great quality metal albums over the years and received heavy rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball with the release of their album Frolic Through The Park in 1988. The band is still regarded as one of the classic metal bands of the bay area metal scene.
Having started way back in the 1960s and finding decent success in the 70s, Deep Purple reinvented themselves slightly to drop into the 80s hard rock scene and it paid off. The band scored several hits in the 80s including “Perfect Strangers”, “Nobody’s Home”, and “Knocking at Your Back Door” from their 1984 album Perfect Strangers. However, their commercial success soon declined again and ended after the release of “House Of The Blue Light in 1987.
Def Leppard is arguably one of the most successful bands to emerge from the 80’s hard rock and heavy metal scene. The band found success early on, hitting the scene with their debut full-length album “On Through The Night” in 1980. Following up, only one year later with “High N’ Dry”, the band was quickly gaining a large fan base and praise worldwide. Def Leppard hit the big time with “Pyromania” in 1983 striking up huge record sales sparked by the enormously popular single “Photograph”. It would be three years of recording before the band would release “Hysteria” to massive critical acclaim. It’s Def Leppard’s biggest-selling record to date.
Most famous for being a major influence on Metallica, who has covered many of their songs over the years including Am I Evil, It’s Electric, The Prince, and Helpless. Diamond Head was part of the NWOBHM scene, but somehow missed the commercial success that bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, and even Venom achieved. When Metallica hit it big they helped Diamond Head receive the credit they deserved as one of the originators of the early 80s metal scene. Diamond Head although with a different lineup, still performs and records to this day.
Diamond Rexx is a unique band. The band seemingly combines glam metal, sleaze, and punk all into one unified sound. That uniqueness may also be their Achilles heel. Admittedly, the mixture of sounds might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was good enough to get them signed to Island Records in 1986. The band comes from Chicago which also contributes to the fact that they sound different than a lot of the other glam bands that were flooding the L.A. music scene at the time. The band released the following albums, Rated Rexx (1990), Golden Gates (1991), Rexx Erected (2001), The Evil (2002), and are set to release a new album in 2020 called Psycho Ward.
This short-lived solo outing by former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno saw him try a go at a lighter sound than he had previously done. The band was very keyboard-heavy and the songs leaned more in the direction of AOR radio-friendly material. While it made a decent splash in the UK charts, fans didn’t really take to his new lighter style of rock. Paul Di’Anno would continue to record albums throughout the 80s and 90s but not under the moniker of Di’Anno. Following the demise of Di’Anno as a solo project, Paul Di’Anno’s Battlefield was the most popular band that he would front following his dismissal from Iron Maiden.
Ronnie James Dio had successfully transitioned from the band Rainbow to Black Sabbath and in the 80s, he branched out on his own as a solo artist. Starting his solo band in 1983 with former Rainbow bass player Jimmy Bain, former Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice and a then relatively unknown guitarist Vivian Campbell, Dio set out to conquer the world. With the album Holy Diver, the band immediately had a hit with the singles “Rainbow In The Dark” and “Holy Diver”. This was the beginning of Dio’s reign and musical legacy that is highly regarded as one of the classic metal bands of the 1980s. The tension was brewing within the band and after three studio albums, guitarist Vivian Campbell parted ways with Dio. While the following “Intermission” EP and “Dream Evil” were still considered great albums, the classic lineup on the albums “Holy Diver”, “The Last In Line” and “Sacred Heart are still considered the best albums by the band. Dio continued with his solo band until his untimely death in 2010 from stomach cancer.
Dirty Blonde is a diamond in the rough. Having released their only album, “Passion” in 1989. By this point in the 80s, glam metal bands were practically everywhere. This made it much more difficult to get noticed and Dirty Blonde was a victim of being one of many in a scene that was already jam-packed. The band was quite talented and remains an underground favorite for many fans of the genre. Their album is still highly sought after by collectors.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Dirty Looks moved to California to be a part of the 80s metal movement. The band released the following albums in the 80s: (1985) Dirty Looks, (1986) In Your Face, (1987) I Want More, (1988) Cool from the Wire, (1989) Turn of the Screw. But it was finally the Cool From The Wire album in 1988 that saw the band lead by Henrik Ostergaard, make waves. The band received heavy rotation of the title song from the album on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball and brought them to a larger audience. Henrik Ostergaard died in 2011 from liver failure. But the band has released 17 studio albums before and after Ostergaard’s death. The band found a similar bluesy hard rock sound to that of AC/DC.
Dokken released their first album “Breaking The Chains” in 1981 which garnered the band their first taste of success with a hit single for the title track. The lineup for the first album included Don Dokken on vocals, George Lynch on Guitar, Mick Brown on Drums, and Juan Croucier on Bass. Croucier would soon depart Dokken to become the bassist in Ratt. Jeff Pilson joined the band with Croucier’s departure. Dokken continued to grow their fanbase with their next few albums Tooth and Nail (1984), Under Lock and Key (1985), and Back for the Attack (1987). In-fighting between the band members led to their breakup and the original members wouldn’t reunite again until 1995 with the album Dysfunctional. The band reached the commercial peak of their career with the albums “Tooth and Nail” and Under Lock and Key. Guitarist George Lynch is widely regarded as one of the best metal guitarists in the world.
Doro Pesch released her first solo album Force Majeure in 1989, but by this point, she was already well-known on the metal scene from fronting the band Warlock. Force Majeure helped establish Doro as a solo artist which she still continues to this day. Over the years, Doro has earned the title the Queen Of Metal by her loyal fans. Doro has often stated that she never married or had kids so that she could concentrate solely on creating quality rock music. She has earned many accolades from critics and fans for being one of the few female metal singers to not flaunt her sexuality and succeed on merit and talent alone.
Earthshaker is one of the early Japanese metal bands. They were unfortunately overlooked in the U.S. market with bands like Loudness, E-Z-O, and Anthem reaching an American metal audience. Early on Earthshaker actually featured Loudness vocalist Minoru Niihara as their singer and bass player. Earthshaker is still well-known in Japan and has released a large discography over the years. In the 80s they released the following albums: Earthshaker (1983), Fugitive (1984), Midnight Flight (1984), Passion (1985), Overrun (1986), Aftershock (1987), Smash (1988), and Treachery (1989). The band released their latest album “The Story Goes On” in 2018.
Enuff Z’Nuff was founded by vocalist Donnie Vie and Chip Z’Nuff back in 1984. They released their self-titled debut album in 1989. “New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle” were both hits for the band in terms of sales and video rotation on MTV. It is still regarded as the bands’ greatest album. The bands’ fans have often compared their sound to that of a harder rocking Beatles with a psychedelic edge. The band would go to produce many great albums but failed to live up to the commercial success of the first album. Donnie Vie parted ways with the band and now only Chip Z’Nuff remains as the only original member who now handles vocals for the band as well.
Europe originally started in 1979 in Sweden. Their first studio album wouldn’t arrive until 1983, simply called “Europe”. The band would release the following albums during the 80s: Wings of Tomorrow (1984), The Final Countdown (1986), and Out of This World (1988). The band finally achieved worldwide commercial success with the album “The Final Countdown”. The single of the same name gave the band their first number 1 single in over 25 countries and went triple platinum in album sales. The Out Of This World album was also a platinum-selling album for the band in the U.S. Currently, Europe continues to perform and record new albums with their latest album “Walk The Earth” being released in 2017.
Hailing from Canada, Exciter is considered to be one of the first speed metal bands. The 80s saw them release the following albums: Heavy Metal Maniac (1983), Violence & Force (1984), Long Live the Loud (1985), Unveiling the Wicked (1986), and Exciter (O.T.T.) (1988). They started out with Shrapnel Records and then signed to Megaforce Records in 1984. Commercially, the band would never reach the level of other bands of the time including Metallica, Exodus, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Exciter has continued on as a band for many years with different lineups and is currently active.
Exodus is a thrash metal band that has gone through many changes over the years including the deaths of two band members. Early on, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett was a member of Exodus but left before they recorded their first album. The band released the following albums during the 1980s: Bonded by Blood (1985), Pleasures of the Flesh (1987), and Fabulous Disaster (1989). The band is considered to be one of the top thrash bands in the U.S. Guitarist Gary Holt is the only band member to appear on every album. The band is currently working on material for a new album to be released in 2021.
Extreme released their debut, self-titled album in 1989. Fronted by future Van Halen vocalist Gary Cherone and guitar wiz Nuno Bettencourt, the band received rave reviews for their first album. However, the commercial success and peak of the band culminated with the release of their second album Extreme II: Pornograffiti. The singles “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted” brought the band international acclaim and put them at number 1 and 4 for the billboard singles charts. The band disbanded in 1996 and while Cherone joined Van Halen for one album, Bettencourt pursued a solo career. The band eventually reunited and continue to record and perform with a new album in the works for a possible 2021 release.
In terms of mainstream success in the United States, E-Z-O was probably one of the closest to breakthrough. The band’s video for the single Flashback Heart Attack” received airplay on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. The band was helped along by Gene Simmons of Kiss and released their debut album on Geffen Records. The band wore leather and black and white makeup that represented the different elements of Japanese folklore. The band was originally called “Flatbacker” and recorded several albums in Japan before changing their name to E-Z-O at Simmons’s request. After the band disbanded, leader singer Masaki Yamada joined Loudness for a succession of albums replacing vocalist Mike Vescera, who had replaced original Loudness vocalist Minoru Niihara.
Faith No More
Faith No More originally started in 1979. After several albums with vocalist Chuck Mosely, the band replaced him with singer Mike Patton. Patton made his debut on the album Real Thing in 1989. The band released the single “Epic” and the radio airplay coupled with heavy MTV rotation earned the band a platinum album. The band still performs and released their latest album in 2015. Faith No More’s sound is often described as alternative metal.
Faster Pussycat debuted in 1987 with their self-titled album which garnered the band several hits including “Bathroom Wall” and “Don’t Change That Song”. Faster Pussycat leans more into the sleaze rock genre and has been compared to everyone from Hanoi Rocks to Guns ‘N Roses. After a successful first album, the band released Wake Me When It’s Over in 1989 which became a Gold-selling record for the band primarily from the hit single “House Of Pain”. The band would record one more album, Whipped! in 1992 before breaking up. The band members were in a legal dispute over the rights to the band name for many years with vocalist Taime Downe ultimately becoming the only original member of the band. The current lineup has been together for many years and last released the studio album “The Power and the Glory Hole” in 2006. The band tours relentlessly and has a great reputation for its live shows.
Of the best debut albums of the early ’80s was the self-titled album by Fastway. The band’s name was a hybrid of “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Pete Way, who started the band together. Vocalist Dave King often drew comparisons to Robert Plant. The band would go on to record several albums for CBS / Epic Records and performed the soundtrack for the horror movie “Trick or Treat” which featured Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons in cameo appearances. While the band continued to record great albums, none of them reached the level of the debut and the band eventually parted ways. Dave King is currently the lead singer in the Celtic punk band Flogging Molly. Sadly, Pete Way passed away in 2020 from serious injuries.
Fates Warning formed in 1982 and released their first album in 1984. Soon, the band had a devoted following with their progressive metal sound that has often been compared to that of Queensryche. Fates Warning released the following albums in the 1980s: Night on Bröcken (1984), The Spectre Within (1985), Awaken the Guardian (1986), No Exit (1988), and Perfect Symmetry (1989). The band’s defining album Parallels (1991) is considered to be one of the best of the genre and has been listed as inspirational to many other bands. The band has recorded an album slated to be released in the near future.
Femme Fatale, lead by vocalist Lorraine Lewis released their self-titled album in 1988 and immediately found success on MTV with their video for “Waiting For The Big One”. It was enough to propel them into the top 200 charts in the U.S. However Femme Fatale didn’t release a second studio album with MCA records. Essentially, a one-hit-wonder when it comes to commercial sales, the band still attracted a decent audience. Sadly, guitarist Bill D’Angelo died of a heart attack in 2005. Lorraine Lewis had a brief solo career and now fronts the band “Vixen” replacing Janet Gardner as the vocalist.
Fifth Angel was a band filled with incredible talent and great musicians. However, despite that fact, the band never found mainstream success. The band was compared to bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, and others. Ted Pilot was an amazing vocalist. Ken Mary, former Alice Cooper drummer provided an incredible thunderous rhythm and James Byrd was spectacular as the guitarist. The band releases a second album “Time Will Tell” but eventually disbanded afterward.
Flotsam And Jetsam
Flotsam And Jetsam was formed in 1981 in Arizona. This thrash metal band released Doomsday for the Deceiver (1986) and No Place for Disgrace (1988) during the 80s. Jason Newsted played bass on the debut album before leaving to replace Cliff Burton in Metallica after his tragic death. Flotsam And Jetsam have a long history and have released many albums since their inception. Their latest release was 2019’s The End Of Chaos. While the band lineup has changed many times, they still continue to release quality thrash metal albums, time and time again.
This British band is known as FM (UK) in the U.S. Formed in 1984, FM released two studio albums in the 80s: Indiscreet (1986) and Tough It Out (1989). They garnered moderate success, especially in the U.K. but failed to break on a big scale in the U.S. during the 80s metal boom. FM is a talented group led by vocalist Steve Overland. The band is mostly known for the singles “Frozen Heart” and “Bad Luck”. They’re still together with a different lineup than the original and most recently released the album Synchronized in 2020.
When Ace Frehley departed from KISS in 1982 he owned a share of KISS but was bound by contract to refrain from any solo work until 1985. In 1987, Ace was set to resume the solo career that he had started in 1978 with the KISS solo albums, but decided to actually call his band Frehley’s Comet, a name he had chosen as the title for the first album. The self-titled album was released in 1987 and earned the band a modest hit with the opening single “Rock Soldiers”. The album features vocals from both Ace Frehley and Tod Howarth. The band quickly released the follow-up album “Second Sighting” in 1988 and a live EP called “Live+1” before Ace departed for a full solo career in 1989. While Ace Frehley has a successful solo career, some of his best work outside of KISS came from the first two Frehley’s Comet albums.
Giant was founded by Dan and David Huff, founding members of the Christian rock band Whiteheart. They released the album Last of the Runaways in 1989. They scored a radio hit with the single “I’ll See You in My Dreams”. The band was critically acclaimed and developed a fan base rather quickly, in part from fans of Whiteheart and then new fans from MTV and radio airplay. Giant disbanded in the early 90s but has returned with different lineups, most recently in 2010 with the album “Promised Land”.
Girl is famous for having two members that went on to be in successful bands in the 80s. Frontman Phil Lewis would later go on to be the vocalist for L.A. Guns and guitarist Phil Collen would find fame with Def Leppard. While the band only released two studio albums before breaking up, Sheer Greed (1980) and Wasted Youth (1982) they left a lasting impression and had a significant impact on the future work of Lewis and Collen. The song “Hollywood Tease” from Girl’s Sheer Greed album would reappear on the self-titled L.A. Guns album.
This British all-girl metal band showed that women can rock just as hard as their male counterparts. They released a series of albums in the 80s: Demolition (1980), Hit and Run (1981), Screaming Blue Murder (1982), Play Dirty (1983), Running Wild (1985), Nightmare at Maple Cross (1986) and Take a Bite (1988). After finding success n the U.K. the band set its sights on the U.S. and signed a record deal with Mercury Records for their 1985 album Running Wild. However, it failed to achieve the commercial success that the label was hopeful for and Mercury dropped the band from the label. This didn’t detour the band and they have continued to record new albums and tour with a varied lineup ever since. Their latest release was an EP in 2015 called Propaganda!.
Originally a side project formed by Greg Giuffria after his band Angel ended, Giuffria became a full-fledged band. During the 80s they released Giuffria (1984), Silk + Steel (1986) to good reviews. Singer David Glen Eisley drew comparisons in vocal style to that of Journey’s Steve Perry. The band had their first taste of success with the single “Call To The Heart” which helped push the album to #26 on the U.S. charts. The band received MTV airplay for their single “I Must Be Dreaming” from their sophomore album Silk + Steel but failed to break into the big time commercially. Greg Giuffria would go on to form the band House Of Lords and then ultimately retire from music altogether. David Glen Eisley and Craig Goldy reunited in 2017 for an album called Blood, Guts, and Games. The album also included work from former Giuffria member Chuck Wright.
After the fall of Communism in the U.S.S.R., this Russian band quickly embraced the western culture of rock and metal music. They were signed to Mercury Records where they released their debut album in 1989. The band released “Bang” as their first single and was the first Russian band to be featured on MTV. They also received radio airplay with the singles “Try to Find Me” and “Peace in Our Time”. They performed at The Moscow Music Peace Festival with Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne, and Scorpions. However, this would be the peak of their career outside Russia. Gorky Park released their last album Protivofazza in 1998.
This German metal band turned out the following albums in the 80s: Heavy Metal Breakdown (1984), Witch Hunter (1985), War Games (1986), and Stronger Than Ever (under name Digger). They received critical acclaim for the Heavy Metal Breakdown album. They toured with Helloween with the release of their second album, which exposed them to more new fans. Grave Digger’s style is considered classic heavy metal. The original band members split up and the lineups changed but the band reformed eventually with only vocalist Chris Boltendahl remaining as a constant. Their latest album Fields Of Blood was released in 2020.
Great White originally started in the 70s as Dante Fox but later changed their name to that of the shark. They didn’t release their debut album until 1984. The band was offered tour slots with other metal bands that help their exposure. During the 80s the band released Great White (1984), Shot in the Dark (1986), Once Bitten (1987), and …Twice Shy (1989). The band peaked commercially with the Twice Shy album and a huge hit with their cover of Ian Hunter’s song “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”. This propelled the band to superstar status with heavy rotation on both radio and MTV. While fans still followed the group in the 90s, trouble was brewing within the band and ultimately they parted ways with singer Jack Russell. Jack Russell went on to form his own band under the name Jack Russell’s Great White, while Mark Kendall kept going with the original name. Both bands still exist, record, and perform live with Great White now being on their second replacement singer since Jack Russell’s departure.
Grim Reaper’s output in the 80s consisted of See You in Hell (1983), Fear No Evil (1985), and Rock You to Hell (1987). This British metal band was known for great guitar work from Nick Bowcott and strong vocals from Steve Grimmett. Their classic melodic heavy metal sound made people take notice and they received their fair share of airplay on MTV, but commercially they failed to connect with a large audience like their peers Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Grim Reaper is well respected and still has a loyal fanbase. In recent years, singer Steve Grimmett has revamped the band as “Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper” and they have released two albums under that moniker to date.
Starting out as a more traditional metal band, Guardian soon changed vocalists and went for a more every man’s hard rock sound, in the lines of Tesla with a slightly more glam image and sound. Guardian was formed in 1982 under the name Fusion, by singer, Paul Cawley and bassist David Bach. The original band lineup also featured drummer Steve Martinez and guitarist Gene Thurston. Originally signed to Enigma Records, they wanted a more Christian-focused record label and asked to be released from their contract. Cawley left and the band brought in Jamie Rowe with a new sound and vocal style.
Guns N’ Roses
Guns ‘N Roses split into two bands. Originally having Tracii Guns as the guitarist and Axel Rose as vocalist, thus explaining the name of the band. However, Tracii Guns left to start L.A. Guns, while Axel Rose recruited new members for what would become the classic lineup of Guns ‘N Roses. With the lineup of Axel Rose, Slash, Duff, Izzy Stradlin, and Steven Adler on drums, the band made a huge impact on the Sunset strip scene that was already thriving. The band presented a sound that mixes the bluesy hard rock of AC/DC with the punk stylings of The Sex Pistols. When the band released a limited EP called Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, fans and critics alike began to spread the word that a new rock juggernaut was about to emerge. In 1987 the band released their debut album “Appetite For Destruction”. The album went 18X Platinum in sales and earned it a rare rating of Diamond in album sales. Pushed by the singles “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine and “Paradise City” the band dominated the airwaves and MTV and quickly became one of the most popular rock bands of the 80s.
Gypsy Rose was one of the first bands to sign to Gene Simmons’ record label. This Canadian band released two singles, “Poisoned By Love” and “Don’t Turn Your Back On Me Now” from their debut album “Prey” and garnered them a growing fanbase. While the band disbanded when the height of the glam metal era began to fade, vocalist Michael Ross returned with solo material and has also returned with a new lineup of Gypsy Rose. The band has since released several albums with FNA Records.
Not to be confused with the German metal band Helloween, Halloween commanded quite a cult following. The band is known for their album Don’t Metal with Evil (1985). Formed in Detroit, the band was outside of the glam metal scene that took Hollywood by storm. Unfortunately, their geographic location probably kept the band from being big. As many bands were relocating to L.A. to play the clubs in search of big record deals. Halloween never made the jump, but is one of the hidden gems that collectors still look for. The band went through many different lineups and released several albums throughout the 90s and 2000s.
Hanoi Rocks are one of the bands that helped the glam metal image into the scene during the early 80s. The band released Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks (1981), Oriental Beat (1982), Self Destruction Blues (1982), Back to Mystery City (1983), and Two Steps from the Move (1984). Unfortunately, the band became even more famous for the death of their drummer Razzle in a car accident of which Vince Neil of Motley Crue was driving. Hanoi Rocks never received the commercial success that their contemporaries did, but were quite influential on the music scene. The band eventually completely broke up and vocalist Michael Monroe now has a thriving solo career.
Hawk was the band founded by Doug Marks, which you may remember from all of the 80’s Metal magazine ads for his “Metal Method” Guitar Lessons. Members of Hawk included: Doug Marks (MetalMethod.com), Scott Travis (Judas Priest), Charles Morrill (Charlie Wayne Morrill), Lonnie Vencent (Bullet Boys), David Fefolt, and Matt Sorum (Guns ’N Roses). The band imploded due to personal differences after releasing only one studio album. However, that self-titled Hawk album remains a hard-to-find classic metal album.
Hear ‘N Aid
This all-star metal project was organized by the members of the band Dio, Ronnie James Dio, Jimmy Bain, and Vivian Campbell. The proceeds of the album went to charity to provide food for famine relief in Africa. 40 different musicians contributed to the lead single “Stars” included members of Judas Priest, Quiet Riot, Queensryche, Dokken, Y & T, Motley Crue, and more. The rest of the album consisted of singles contributed by bands such as KISS, Motorhead, and Rush. This rare combination of metal musicians on one project makes it worth owning, if even just for the single “Stars”.
Having found success in the 70s as a hard rock outfit fronted by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, the band reinvented itself in the 80s. Not only did they equal their earlier success but surpassed it in many ways with great album sales. They released the album “Heart” in 1985. The album had four top ten hits and sold over 5 million copies. Heart released the following albums during the 80s: Bébé le Strange (1980), Private Audition (1982), Passionworks (1983), Heart (1985), Bad Animals (1987). Bad Animals provided the band with their number one hit “Alone. Heart still performs live and their latest studio album was Beautiful Broken in 2016.
While the band got its start in 1984, it wasn’t until 1987’s Breaking The Silence that the band hit its stride. The band released their cover of The Sweet’s “Set Me Free” as the first single and it proved to be quite successful. MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball put the video in rotation which allowed the band to reach a much larger audience than before. The band’s early sound was more reminiscent of the bay area thrash metal but became more technical metal sounding after Breaking The Silence. The band has gone through many lineup changes over time but still releases new material. They are set to release their latest album in 2020 called “Empire Of The Blind”.
Australian band Heaven released three studio albums “Bent”(1982), “Where Angels Fear to Tread” (1983), and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (1985). The band toured the U.S. under support for their single and video for “Rock School” and picked up news fans. However, they never seemed to break through to the mainstream U.S. metal audience. Early on their sound was closer to that of AC/DC but later albums went in a more commercial, radio-friendly version. Fans regard all of their albums as quality releases and they are still collected heavily by metal fans. In 2015, vocalist Allan Fryer died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Heavy Pettin is a Scottish band that released its debut “Lettin Loose” in 1983. The band’s sound was often similar to that of early Def Leppard material. They seemed to be a band on the rise with the release of their second album “Rock Ain’t Dead”(1985) but their sound became more commercial and keyboard-heavy by the time they released “Big Bang” in 1989. Melodic metal fans still seek out all three albums and recently the band has re-formed to release a new EP called 4Play.
This Canadian band deserves far more credit than they have received over the years. During the 80s they released White Lace & Black Leather (1981), No Rest for the Wicked (1983), Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge (1984), Long Way to Heaven (1985), and Wild in the Streets (1987). Helix had their first hit with “Heavy Metal Love” from the No Rest For The Wicked album. The next album would be the one to launch the band to superstar status. With the release of Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge, the band had two singles chart with “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’ and the song that Helix is most famous for “Rock You”. Brian Vollmer and company continue to record new albums with Old School in 2019 being their latest release
Hellion released their self-titled Ep in 1983 and the album Screams in the Night (1987), and another EP, Postcards from the Asylum (1988) during their run in the 80s. Led by vocalist Ann Boleyn, the band often headlined shows on the Sunset Strip clubs but failed to find a major record label offer. Ronnie James Dio offered his help to the band and worked on demos with Boleyn. The members of the band decided to split from the singer. Undeterred, Boleyn reformed Hellion and formed her own record label, New Renaissance Records. The band continued to release material into the 2000s.
Helloween released Walls of Jericho (1985), Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I (1987), and Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II (1988) during the 80s. It was the Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I that really introduced the band to a larger American audience. The video for the single “I Want Out” got played heavily on MTV and help drive sales of the album. But this German band was far from done. While known primarily as an 80s metal band, their larger output of albums would actually occur in the 90s and the 2000s. The band is scheduled to release a new album in early 2021.
When glam metal hit it big in the ’80s, many Christian metal bands went the same route. Holy Soldier had two really good albums before changing personnel and going in a more acoustic-based alternative. Holy Soldier is a band that has secured its position as one of the most important and identifiable bands of Christian rock & roll history. The group, which formed in Los Angeles in 1985, distilled so much of the music that had come before them and has exerted a decisive influence on so much that has come after. Very few artists and musicians in their genre have achieved that stature, and stand proudly among them. They looked the part and had a decent sound, but ultimately they just faded away like so many bands from the era.
House Of Lords
When former Angel keyboardist Gregg Giuffria ended his solo band Giuffria, he started House Of Lords and signed to Gene Simmons’s record label. Their debut album launched in 1988 with vocalist James Christian as the frontman. The band had a hit with “I Wanna Be Loved” and followed it up with “Love Don’t Lie” which also received airplay. The band would change band members over time including losing Gregg Giuffria after The Demons Down album in 1992. The band has a lengthy discography including House of Lords, Sahara, Demons Down (1992), The Power and the Myth (2004), World Upside Down (2006), Come to My Kingdom(2008), Cartesian Dreams (2009), Big Money (2011), Precious Metal (2014), Indestructible (2015), Saint of the Lost Souls (2017) and New World – New Eyes (2020)
HSAS, which stands for Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, and Shrieve was a one-off project that allowed Journey guitarist Neal Schon to work with Sammy Hagar. The supergroup’s only album was “Through The Fire” and was actually recorded on several live dates and then re-edited in the studio to remove the crowd noise. It was then released as a studio album. Neal Schon returned to Journey and Sammy Hagar recorded V.O.A. afterward which lead to the huge hit single “I Can’t Drive 55” and subsequently lead to his joining Van Halen after the band split with David Lee Roth. While HSAS was a small snapshot in time, the album produced some really great songs, and both Schon and Hagar definitely had interesting band chemistry together.
Hurricane is notable for having the brothers of Carlos Cavazo and Rudy Sarzo from Quiet Riot, Tony Cavazo, and Robert Sarzo as bassist and guitarist. Kelly Hansen, who now fronts Foreigner was the fantastic vocalist that rounded out the band along with drummer Jay Schellen. The band had the biggest success with 1988’s “Over The Edge” album, but never quite made it to the level of bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, and others that were dominating the L.A. music scene at the time. Recently, Hurricane has reunited with only Sarzo and Cavazo as the original members and has plans to record new material in the near future.
Icon released their debut album Icon in 1984. The band showed extreme talent and promise for the future. Then in 1985, they released the appropriately named “Night Of The Crime”, because it’s simply a crime that this album didn’t top the hard rock and metal charts at the time. If any band had everything that it needed to hit the big time it was Icon. One of the best albums to come out in the 80’s it’s criminally underrated. The band seemed to suffer from a lack of exposure problems, which cost them their rightful place as one of the best bands in the ’80s. While bands like Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ratt, and Cinderella were getting airplay on radio and coverage on MTV, this Arizona band simply seemed to fall through the cracks. Night Of The Crime is a brilliant album from beginning to end, with outstanding production and talent to spare. The band released several albums after this with a different vocalist, A More Perfect Union (1987), Right Between the Eyes (1989) but it just didn’t have the same magic that Night Of The Crime did.
Led by guitar shredder Chris Impellitteri, the band released an EP simply titled Impellitteri (1987) and Stand in Line (1988). Former Rainbow and Alcatrazz vocalist Graham Bonnet joined for Stand In Line and the album also featured a song of the same title released as a single. It hit the top 100 charts and handed the band their first hit. The band also found great success in Japan. Impellitteri is still recording, now with original vocalist Rob Rock with their latest album being Nature Of The Beast in 2018.
Starting out with Paul Di’Anno, the band made a name for themselves and were poised for greatness. The band had a major label deal with EMI records in 1979. With Di’Anno at the helm the band recorded their debut album “Iron Maiden” and “Killers”, but due to Di’Anno’s self-destructive behavior and extreme drug use, the band parted ways with him and hired then Samson vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. And the rest as they say….is history. Iron Maiden scored their first No. 1 UK hit with “The Number Of The Beast” and built one of the biggest followings worldwide with Dickinson. In 1993 Dickinson left Iron Maiden to further his solo career. The Band hired Blaze Bayley, who only made two albums with the band before Dickinson returned. The band is currently one of the most popular metal bands in the world.
Jack Starr’s Burning Starr
Releasing Rock the American Way (1985), No Turning Back (1986), Blaze of Glory (1987), and Jack Starr’s Burning Starr (1989), the band proved to be talented but lacked great promotion and good tours with other bands to really help them reach a large audience. Led by former Virgin Steele guitarist, Jack Starr Burning Starr produced some solid albums during the 1980s. The band reformed with a different lineup and have released three more studio albums in the 2000s.
Originally based in San Francisco, Jetboy relocated to L.A. in the 80s to be a part of the growing glam/hair metal scene at the time. Jetboy fused everything from metal, punk, and rockabilly into their sound. Their debut album, Feel the Shake (1988) was a modest success, but it took the band two years to release a follow-up and by then the scene had begun to disappear. Undaunted, Jetboy would go on to release the albums Damned Nation (1990), A Day in the Glamorous Life (1997), Make Some More Noise (1999), One More for Rock N’ Roll (2002), Off Your Rocker (2010)
and their most recent release, Born to Fly (2019).
Prior to establishing his own solo musical career, Joe Satriani was a guitar teacher who taught such well-known guitarists as Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett, Alex Skolnick, and Andy Timmons. However, Satriani established himself as a guitar hero rather quickly releasing the albums Not of This Earth (1986), Surfing with the Alien (1987), and Flying in a Blue Dream (1989) during the 80s. Satriani has been Grammy-nominated 15 times throughout his career. He is ranked among the world’s best rock guitarists including Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen, and more. Surfing with the Alien is not only his most commercially successful album but also the highest acclaimed of his career. He currently continues to record and perform.
Judas Priest is considered one of the best metal bands in history, and rightfully so. Having made a name for themselves in the 70s, the band exploded during the 80s. Releasing the albums British Steel (1980), Point of Entry (1981), Screaming for Vengeance (1982), Defenders of the Faith (1984), Turbo (1986), and Ram It Down (1988), the band practically dominated the metal scene. They scored a huge hit with You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’. Featuring guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing and Rob Halford’s incredible vocal ability the band continued to sell out arenas and sell lots of albums. Halford split from the band for several years and has returned in recent years and the band still continues to create new material and tour.
Formed by former Steeler vocalist Ron Keel, Keel featured two guitarists, Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay with exceptional skills, that managed to play completely different styles and still create a cohesive sound. Keel released their debut album, “Lay Down The Law” in 1984. It showcased the vocal dominance of Ron Keel, the thunderous drumming of Dwain Miller, and a massive guitar sound. Their second album, “The Right To Rock (1985) put the band squarely on the map with the single of the same name. MTV played the video in heavy rotation and suddenly, along with Ratt, Dokken, and Motley Crue were on every rock magazine around. While the Right To Rock got them known, it would be their next album The Final Frontier (1986) that would chart the highest. It was powered by the band’s cover of The Patti Smith song “Because The Night” that showed the band was more than all hair and screams. The band would continue to sell well on their self-titled album, Keel (1987), and Larger Than Live (1989). The band would eventually split up. However, the band would reform again and release two more studio albums. The band is still technically together at present time.
Canadian metal band, Kick Axe never seemed to get a fair shake. They were another band that just didn’t receive enough exposure to be well known with hard rock fans. The band released several great albums, with “Vices” being their most widely known album. The band always had great songs and arrangements to make any metalhead go wild, but the band seemed to die a slow death with very little promotion.
This product of Canada released its debut album in 1983. The original lineup consisted of Russ Graham (vocals), and Darrell Millar (drums), Bryce Trewin (guitar) and, Ange Fodero (bass). Guitarist Mike Hall and bassist Ron Mayer were the latter members soon after. The band found a decent amount of success with their second album “Stand Tall”. Armed with a sense of humor, (all the band members adopted the stage surname Dwarf) the band found MTV airplay helpful to reaching a larger audience outside of Canada. Big Deal would be their last album during the 1980s and it also did moderately well. The band is currently still performing and released the album Start @ One, most recently in 2013.
King Diamond left Mercyful Fate and took guitarist Michael Denner, and bassist Timi Hansen with him to form his solo band. They added drummer Mikkey Dee and guitarist Andy LaRocque before recording their debut album Fatal Portrait in 1986. The band would continue releasing albums throughout the 80s including Abigail (1987), “Them” (1988), and Conspiracy (1989). King Diamond kept the overtly satanic image from Mercyful Fate and often times pushed it even farther. King Diamond has a 4-octave vocal range. Dressed in black and white corpse paint has been a hallmark of his career.
King Kobra was the brainchild of drummer Carmine Appice, who had played with Rod Stewart and the king of metal, the madman himself, Ozzy Osbourne. The band featured band members that would later go on to other bands like W.A.S.P. and the Bulletboys. King Kobra’s look was unusual, to say the least with all members except for Appice having extremely bleached blonde hair. Ready To Strike was a great album and promised great things to come, but unfortunately the band never quite reached this level again. The band recorded the soundtrack to the movie Iron Eagle” and several other albums but ultimately disbanded. Lead vocalist Mark Free has since changed his gender to female in now known as Marcie Free. Carmine Appice is currently performing with his brother Vinnie Appice in Drum Wars.
Kingdom Come was founded by singer Lenny Wolf who had previously found some success with his band Stone Fury. Critics accused Kingdome Come of being a rip-off of Led Zeppelin, but that didn’t stop them from being successful with their debut album. Unfortunately, the band didn’t quite live up to the same hype or commercial sales for their second album, cleverly titled “In Your Face”. While the band only released two albums in the 80s, they would go on in different lineups through 2013 before vocalist Wolf decided to end the band. The band has been resurrected in recent years with Keith St. John taking over the vocals.
Kings Of The Sun
This Australian band barely got noticed in the U.S., but if you did happen to hear them, it was usually met with rousing approval from hard rock fans. The band forged a raw hard, bluesy hard rock sound that had a bit of a 70s rock sound mixed in. It was different from what most of the metal bands were doing, but nonetheless energetic and rousing rock. The band was formed by Jeffrey Hoad and Clifford Hoad in 1986. Kings of the Sun released their self-titled album in 1988. It charted in the top 200 in the U.S.
This Texas trio brought a unique sound into the metal world with Beatlesque harmonies on top of heavy music. The band proved to be different and talented enough to get signed to a major label deal. Doug Pinnick (bass guitar, lead, and backing vocals), Jerry Gaskill (drums, percussion, backing, and lead vocals), and Ty Tabor (lead guitar, backing, and lead vocals) took their brand of progressive metal on the road and amassed a huge following of fans with an energetic live show. The band released Out Of The Silent Planet (1988) and Gretchen Goes To Nebraska (1989). Both of these albums helped increase their audience and they had their biggest selling album with Fath, Hope & Love in 1990. King’s X is still recording and performing to this day.
While KISS had already been around for several years, the 80s proved to be a decade of huge change for the band including changing members and removing their trademark makeup. KISS released the following albums in the 80s: Unmasked (1980), Music from “The Elder” (1981), Creatures of the Night (1982), Lick It Up (1983), Animalize (1984), Asylum (1985), Crazy Nights (1987) and Hot in the Shade (1989). The first two albums in the 80s were not well received by most fans or critics. Things started to change when KISS brought in Vinnie Vincent to replace Ace Frehley. Even though he wasn’t actually a member of the band yet, Vincent played on The Creatures Of The Night album. Eric Carr was also brought in to replace longtime drummer Peter Criss. New blood in the band seemed to energize KISS and they decided to remove their makeup with the release of Lick It Up in 1983. The move turned out to be a good choice as metal bands were becoming more mainstream in the 80s and KISS jumped right into the mix. Not only did the albums sell more, but KISS was again receiving radio airplay and MTV airtime for most of the new videos. The band would move on from Vincent, only to replace Mark St. John after one album. Eventually, the band enlisted Bruce Kulick and the band continued to be a big success throughout the 80s.
This Maryland band released its debut album in 1981 fusing an AC/DC sound with glam rock. They released the following albums in the 80s: Kix (1981), Cool Kids (1983), Midnite Dynamite (1985), and Blow My Fuse (1988). The band really got noticed with the release of Midnite Dynamite and went platinum with the release of Blow My Fuse, driven by the single “Don’t Close Your Eyes”. Kix continues to record new music and is a regular on the touring circuit and metal festivals. The band’s most recent album was 2014’s Rock Your Face Off, which received great reviews from fans and critics alike.
Krokus had already released three albums in Switzerland during the 70s before releasing the albums: Metal Rendez-vous (1980), Hardware (1981), One Vice at a Time (1982), Headhunter (1983), The Blitz (1984), Change of Address (1986) and Heart Attack (1988). The band had gone both gold and platinum overseas but sought success in the U.S. They received their first U.S. Gold record with the release of Headhunter. “Screaming In The Night” proved to be a big commercial hit and the album hit 25 on the U.S. Billboard charts. The follow-up album, The Blitz would also achieve a Gold record driven by the singles “Midnite Maniac” and their cover of The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz”. This would prove to be the commercial peak of the band but the band released albums through 2017 and are now finishing their farewell worldwide tour.
After Tracii Guns left Guns N’ Roses, he started L.A. Guns, originally featuring singer Paul Black. Former Girl vocalist Phil Lewis would join the band as the new vocalist and the classic lineup of L.A. Guns with Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns, Steve Riley, Mick Cripps, and Kelly Nickels would get signed to a major record deal. The band released their debut album, simply called L.A. Guns in 1988, and had a hit single with the song “Sex Action” and the album would reach number 50 on the Billboard album charts. The band followed it up Cocked And Loaded in 1989, this time finding a hit with the ballad “The Ballad Of Jayne”. Cocked and Loaded would make it to 38 on the Billboard charts and MTV played L.A. Guns’ video on frequent rotation. The band would then split multiple times starting in the 90s and continues to this day, with two versions of L.A. Guns around, one with Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis and another with Steve Riley and Kelly Nickels. Since Steve Riley owns a percentage of the name, the band name is essentially split between two very different groups of musicians.
This 80s pseudo-thrash band released City’s Gonna Burn (1984), No Stranger to Danger (1985), Know Your Enemy (1987) and Annihilation Principle (1989) during their 80s run. While these guys were part of the Bay Area metal scene, they have never gotten the recognition that bands like Metallica, Testament, Death Angel, and Megadeth have. When the band signed with Enigma Records and released Known Your Enemy, it was a much-needed shot in the arm for the band and saw them get larger record distribution. The album as well as the follow-up, Annihilation Principal both received good critical reviews and the band hit the tour circuit with bands like Metallica, Anthrax. Megadeth, Overkill, and more. However, the band just never seemed to reach a large commercial audience The band is currently thought to be still technically active, but their last recorded album was in 2008.
Le Mans was an underrated band that released two albums and featured original Enuff Z’ Nuff guitarist Derek Frigo. Their first release “On The Streets”(1983) was straight ahead classic-sounding heavy metal with a glam look, but the band quickly went to a much softer overall sound for their second album, simply titled Le Mans (1986). The band was obviously trying for radio airplay and MTV attention with the more commercial material, but it failed to materialize into anything long-term. The band briefly featured Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Motley Crue) and Leonard Haze (Y&T).
Leatherwolf released their self-titled album in 1987 which featured a triple axe attack and incredible power metal sensibilities. The band garnered great reviews from fans and critics alike. The song “The Calling” was a great anthemic metal track that propelled this album to reach new fans. Unfortunately, the band could never seem to duplicate the same formula in later releases. The band has reformed in recent years and has released several quality albums since.
Canadian, Lee Aaron whose real name is Karen Lynn Greening released her debut album “The Lee Aaron Project” in 1982. Followed up by the album “Metal Queen” in 1984, she signed a multi-album deal and was heavily promoted in major rock magazines. Metal Queen produced a minor hit of the same name. She would go on to release such albums as Call of the Wild (1985), Lee Aaron (1987) and, Bodyrock (1989). She continued to release albums throughout the 90s and 2000s with Diamond Baby Blues being her latest release in 2018. Lee Aaron is currently still active in music.
This New Orleans-based band received a nice start when Ratt’s Robbin Crosby produced their debut album in 1988. The band led by guitarist Steve Blaze included Ron Taylor (lead vocals), Jon Ster (rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Rob Stratton (bass guitar, and Danny King (drums). Their second album. 1989’s Love + War was a critical success but failed to chart the band highly on commercial charts. Lillian Axe has since released the albums Poetic Justice, Psychoschizophrenia, Fields of Yesterday, Waters Rising, Sad Day On Planet Earth, Deep Red Shadows, and XI The Days Before Tomorrow. The lineup has changed over the years but Steve Blaze is still the mainstay of the band. They are the first hard rock band to be inducted into the Louisana Music Hall Of Fame.
Lion came out of nowhere with Dangerous Attraction to deliver one of the most underrated metal albums of the ’80s. Featuring Doug Aldrich on guitar who would later go on to work with bands like Dio, Whitesnake, and currently Dead Daisies. Kai Swan’s vocals were incredibly powerful. In an untimely and unfortunate accident, drummer Mark Edwards suffered a broken neck which lead to the band breaking up a month later. Aldrich and Swan continued on in a new band called Bad Moon Rising. Lion was probably best known for recording the Transformer’s Movie Theme. While the band was on a major label at the time of Dangerous Attraction’s release they were never truly exposed to the large American mainstream metal audience that could have helped them reach the level of bands like Whitesnake, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard who were dominating the airwaves at the time.
When The Runaways disintegrated as a band, Lita Ford decided to pursue a solo career. She released the following albums in the 80s: Out for Blood (1983), Dancin’ on the Edge (1984) and, Lita (1988). She scored her first hit with the song “Gotta Let Go” from the Dancin’ On The Edge album. But it would prove to be her self-titled album “Lita” in 1988 that was her most successful. The duet with Ozzy Osbourne, “If I Close My Eyes Forever” was a huge hit and would reach #8 on the Billboard charts. “Kiss Me Deadly” would also become one of her most well-known songs. She took a hiatus for almost 14 years before returning to the music scene. Her latest release was “Time Capsule” in 2016, but she tours on a regular basis and is known for her energetic live shows.
Lizzy Borden was started in 1983 by brothers Lizzy Borden (real name Gregory Harges) and Joey Scott. Lizzy Borden had a large output during the 1980s including the following albums: Give ‘Em the Axe EP (1984), Love You to Pieces (1985), The Murderess Metal Road Show Live (1986), Menace to Society (1986), Terror Rising EP (1987), Visual Lies (1987) and Master of Disguise in 1989. The band reached its commercial peak with the Visual Lies album. They were featured in the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and still continue to this day.
Sadly London is more famous for being a stepping stone for other band members that went on to bigger things including Blackie Lawless (WASP), Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses), Slash (Guns N’ Rose), Izzy Stradlin (Guns N’ Roses) and Fred Coury (Cinderella). London released two albums in the 80s, Non-Stop Rock (1985) and, Don’t Cry Wolf (1986). Led by Nadir D’Priest and guitarist Lizzie Grey these albums are worth listening to but failed to chart commercially. The band was a staple on Sunset Strip during the glam metal years and appeared in the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years. London has released two albums since then with the latest being in 2018.
Lord Tracy released The Deaf Gods Of Babylon” in 1989 and the single “Out With The Boys,” reached #40 on theBillboard charts. The band featured former Pantera vocalist Terry Glaze, who performed with the band during their glam era before Phil Anselmo joined. The album was filled with a sense of crass humor and developed a cult following because of it. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell well on a commercial level and the band split up. The band has released several albums since comprised of demos and unreleased material.
The first Japanese metal band to secure a major record deal with a company from the United States. That band is “Loudness”. Loudness started in 1981 and is one of the most popular metal exports from Japan. In May of 1981, Munetaka loudnessHiguchi (drums) and Akira Takasaki (guitar) from the Japanese band, Lazy decided to form their own band to pursue their favorite music style. Minoru Niihara (Vocals), a former member of Earthshaker, became the original lead singer of Loudness after auditioning. Masayoshi Yamashita (bass), an old friend with Takasaki, was also selected after a few auditions. The band released six releases consisting of full albums and EP’s before recording their debut album for Atlantic Records, entitled “Thunder In The East”. Loudness had made an intentional attempt to reach international fame. When Thunder In The East was recorded, Minoru Niihara did not speak English and learned to sing all of the vocals phonetically. The band received airplay on MTV, which brought them to a whole new audience of American rock fans. The album was released in 1985, reached no. 4 on Japanese charts, and landed at no. 74 in the U.S. They toured the U.S. with Motley Crue and became the first Japanese rock band to play Madison Square Garden. The band released Lightning Strikes and Hurricane Eyes in the United States and Akira Takasaki began to get noticed as a guitar hero, alongside the likes of Eddie Van Halen, George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jake E. Lee, and others. The band went through a few lineup changes when Niihara left the band as was replaced by American vocalist, Mike Vescera and later by Masaki Yamada of the Japanese band EZO. Niihara returned to the band in 2001. To date, Loudness has released a total of 26 studio albums and remains a legendary band, both in Japan and the United States. Today, Akira Takasaki is considered among the best rock guitarists in the world.
When Dokken split up after The Back For The Attack album, George Lynch started his own band called Lynch Mob which included Dokken drummer, Wild Mick Brown. Their debut album Wicked Sensation found moderate success for the band with Oni Logan handling the vocals. However, Logan and Lynch had issues with each other and future Warrant vocalist Robert Mason sang on the second self-titled album which had a minor hit with the song “Jungle Of Love”. Oni Logan would return in 2009 and the band has continued to record new albums and perform live ever since. However, George Lynch has stated that he will no longer use the name Lynch Mob again because he doesn’t feel it’s politically correct with the negative connotations that the name brings.
M.A.R.S. Project Driver
This one-off project released on Shrapnel Records is pretty amazing. The title stands for (Tony) MacAlpine, (Tommy) Aldridge, (Rob Rock), and (Rudy) Sarzo or M.A.R.S. The band is filled with talented musicians and this is heavy metal guitar shredders dream. The biggest issue with this album would have to be the sound production, which comes off as a terrible mix considering the artists involved. It would have been great to see this group continue because this album showed real chemistry between the players involved.
Formed by sisters Maxine and Roxy Petrucci and including Bret Kaiser and Chris Doliber, the band actually once featured a young Sebastian Bach. They released the album We Reserve the Right in 1984 and scored a minor hit with the song “High In High School”. The band would break up in 1988 but returned again in 2017 to release the album Monstrosity. After the original breakup, Roxy Petrucci would join Vixen and is still a member of the band today.
British rockers released Chase the Dragon (1982), The Eleventh Hour (1983), On a Storyteller’s Night (1985), Vigilante (1986) and, Wings of Heaven (1988) during their 80s heyday. The album Chase The Dargon hit #17 on the U.K. charts. On A Storyteller’s Night reached Gold Album status in the U.K. as well. The band would shift their sound to a more mainstream sound closer to the end of the 80s. The band is currently still active and most recently released the album “The Serpent Rings” in 2020. Check out songs like “Soldier of the Line”, “Sacred Hour” and “The Spirit” for some of their best-known tracks.
Malice hit the L.A. metal scene in the early ’80s and developed a great following. Often compared to bands like Queensryche and Lizzy Borden, primarily because of the high-pitched vocals of James Neal. The band featured incredibly talented musicians with License To Kill being the epic album that failed to put them over the top. The band has morphed through different members over the years and still records and performs periodically. Sadly, Guitarist Mick Zane passed away in 2016.
Mama’s Boys was an Irish metal band featuring the three McManus brothers Pat, a.k.a. “The Professor”, John (bass; vocal), and, Tommy (drums). The band’s Power and Passion album broke into the Billboard top 100 in the US. Mama’s Boys released the following albums during the ’80s: Official bootleg (1980), Plug It In (1982), Turn It Up (1983), Mama’s Boys (1984), Power and Passion (1985), and Growing Up the Hard Way (1987). Sadly, Tommy McManus died in 1991 from complications from bone marrow replacement surgery. While the band was never considered commercially successful in the U.S., they remain a favorite among metal music collectors.
Formed in 1980, Manowar featured metal songs concentrating almost entirely on fantasy and mythology. The band was clad in everything from leather to animal skins giving the band a sort of medieval warrior look. During the 80s the band released the following studio albums: Battle Hymns (1982), Into Glory Ride (1983), Hail to England (1984), Sign of the Hammer (1984), Fighting the World (1987), and Kings of Metal (1988). The band made it into the Guinness Book Of World Records for the loudest concert and also set a record with the longest concert performance at five hours and 1 minute in Bulgaria. The band’s slogan “Death To False Metal” has been used to differentiate the band from other metal bands that they consider to be pretenders or posers. Manowar has sold over 20 million records worldwide and still continues to this day.
Masi was a band created by guitarist Alex Masi to showcase his abilities. They signed to Metal Blade Records in 1986 and released two albums Fire in the Rain (1987) and Downtown Dreamers (1988). Downtown Dreamers featured the hit single “God Promised a Paradise” and the video brought them a great deal of attention courtesy of MTV. Alex Masi moved on to release his first solo album Attack of the Neon Shark (1989) which was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Instrumental Rock” album category. All in all, Alex Masi has released 17 total solo albums since disbanding the original “Masi” band.
Christian metal band Mass released the following albums during the 80s: Mass (1985), New Birth (1985), Take You Home (1988) and, Voices In The night (1989). The band was comprised of Gene D’Itria guitars, Joey Vadala drums, Louie St. August vocals, and, Kevin Varrio bass. The band hailed from Massachusetts and signed with Medusa Records which distributed their album “Take You Home” and found the band going down a similar path to Stryper who signed with Enigma records. However, Mass was never able to achieve mainstream success as Stryper did.
McAuley Schenker Group
Formed by members Robin McAuley (vocals) and Michael Schenker (guitar), Robin McCauley was originally going to be the replacement at vocalist in the Michael Schenker Group, but Michael Schenker decided to change the name of the band to The McCauley Schenker Group to celebrate their partnership, still keeping the initials MSG. The band released two albums during the 80s: Perfect Timing (1987) and Save Yourself (1989) with a final studio album in 1990 simply called M.S.G. The band had their biggest hit with the song “Anytime” on the Save Yourself album, which also received heavy rotation on MTV.
Formed after Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine was let go from the band, Megadeth represented everything Mustaine had wanted to do, but now as a leader and vocalist as well. With lyrics focusing on death, war, politics, relationships, and religion, Megadeth often reflects our society in its songs. Megadeth released the following albums during the 80s: Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! (1985), Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? (1986) and So Far, So Good… So What! (1988). Especially the first two Megadeth albums were instrumental, along with bands like Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, Overkill, and Testament to create the Thrash metal movement. Original members Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson still champion Megadeth to this day. The band received their first Grammy award in 2017 for Best Metal Performance for “Dystopia”.
Part of the first wave of Black Metal in the early 80s, Mercyful Fate concentrated its efforts on the occult with lyrics about Satan, Witchcraft, and the paranormal. Singer King Diamond would go on to have a successful solo career after ending Mercyful Fate. Mercyful Fate only released two albums in the 80s: Melissa (1983), and Don’t Break the Oath (1984). However, their influence and legacy in dark metal music remain today and Mercyful Fate has been reformed with a changing lineup centered around the high-octave vocals of King Diamond.
Originally formed in San Francisco, Metal Church relocated to Seattle and signed to Elektra Records. Soon they were touring with artists like Slayer, Testament, Overkill, and Metallica which helped them reach a larger audience with their brand of Thrash Metal. The band hit their commercial peak with the album entitled “The Dark”. However, afterward, the band had a changing lineup of musicians that lead to the band not being able to achieve a consistent sound or message. Metal Church released the following albums during the 1980s: Metal Church (1984), The Dark (1986), and Blessing in Disguise (1989). The band still records and tours with vocalist Mike Howe who replaced the late David Wayne who died in 2005.
In 1981, Metallica came from the underground metal scene of the San Francisco bay area to become one of the most popular metal bands of all time. Originally featuring Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine on guitar, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Cliff Burton formed the early version of Metallica with Kirk Hammett replacing Mustaine before the bands’ debut album Kill ‘Em All was released. The band released the albums Kill ‘Em All (1983), Ride the Lightning (1984), Master of Puppets (1986), The $5.98 E.P. Garage Days Re-Revisited (1987), and …And Justice for All (1988) during the 1980s. Bassist Cliff Burton was tragically killed in a bus accident while the band was touring for the album Master Of Puppets. Metallica would replace their longtime friend on bass with former Flotsam & Jetsam member, Jason Newsted who made his first appearance on The $5.98 E.P. Garage Days Re-Revisited in 1987. Metallica received rave reviews for all the first three albums they released with Master Of Puppets being the album to break the band through to the mainstream. Metallica continues to record and tour with all original members and Robert Trujillo on bass.
Michael Schenker Group
Former Scorpions and UFO guitarist Michael Schenker started MSG in 1979. The band released the following albums during the 80s: The Michael Schenker Group (1980), MSG (1981), Assault Attack (1982), and Built to Destroy (1983). The band received great reviews and the debut album went all the way to #8 on the U.K. rock charts. Original MSG vocalist Gary Barden sang on the first two albums and again on Built To Destroy with Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Alcatrazz) handling the vocals on Assault Attack. The albums were a great vehicle for Schenker to showcase his guitar abilities and helped solidify him as one of the guitar greats of the 1980s.
Motley Crue was formed in 1981 with the band featuring Vince Neil on vocals, Nikki Sixx on bass, Mick Mars on guitar, and Tommy Lee on drums. The band ruled the 80s metal scene by appealing to both male and female fans and crossing the lines between traditional metal, glam rock, and radio-friendly ballads. Motley Crue released the following albums during the 80s: Too Fast for Love (1981), Shout at the Devil (1983), Theatre of Pain (1985), Girls, Girls, Girls (1987), and Dr. Feelgood (1989). Shout At The Devil has been considered one of the top metal albums of all time and the band score numerous hit singles throughout the 80s. Along with bands like Ratt, Quiet Riot, Great White, and Dokken, Motley Crue helped to shape the Sunset Strip, Hollywood glam metal era that dominated the 1980s.
Motorhead is considered one of the legendary bands in metal music. Motorhead released 22 studio albums, 10 live recordings, 12 compilation albums, and five EPs over a career spanning 40 years. Led by lead singer and vocalist Lemmy Kilmister, a character larger than life, Motorhead took no prisoners in their approach. Never a band to bow to the pressure of trends or for radio airplay, they did exactly what they wanted, how they wanted. Motorhead’s best know lineup featured “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums. While the lineup changed over the years Lemmy was always the constant and maintained the Motorhead sound and image. In 2015, Lemmy died from cardiac arrhythmia and congestive heart failure, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Motorhead was nominated for Grammys multiple times and won only one for their cover of the Metallica song “Whiplash”.
Formed in 1988 Mr. Big featured Eric Martin (lead vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitar, backing vocals), Billy Sheehan (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Pat Torpey (drums, percussion, backing vocals). Gilbert had received notoriety as a guitarist playing in the band Racer X but was unable to be a commercial success with it as far as radio hits are concerned. Mr. Big’s self-titled debut album in 1989 was their only release during the 80s. Mr. Big took a more radio-friendly approach and included ballads that helped the band achieve hit singles. The band scored big hits with the songs “To Be with You” and “Just Take My Heart” during the 90s. Sadly, drummer Pat Torpey died from complications of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 64 in 2018.
Night Ranger was formed in San Francisco in 1982. The original lineup featured vocalist and bassist Jack Blades, drummer Kelly Keagy, Keyboardist Alan Fitzgerald, and guitarists Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson. The band scored their first hit on their debut album “Dawn Patrol” with the song “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”. The band released the following albums in the 1980s: Dawn Patrol (1982), Midnight Madness (1983), 7 Wishes (1985), Big Life (1987), and Man in Motion (1988). The first three albums all went Platinum. The band’s biggest hit came on the Midnight Madness album with the ballad “Sister Christian”. The band has continued to record and tour over the years and still features the three original members of Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, and Kelly Keagy.
Odin is now recognized as one of the bands featured in the Penelope Spheeris documentary, The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. The band was featured prominently in the film and performed two songs in it “Little Gypsy” and “12 O’Clock High”. Odin is Jeff Duncan – Guitars, Shawn Duncan – Drums, Randy O. – Vocals, Aaron Samson – Bass. Odin was well known all over the Sunset Strip area in L.A. during the 80s metal boom. Odin is the only unsigned band as a headliner to have shattered attendance records on multiple nights at both Gazarri’s on the Sunset Strip and The Palace. Odin”s entire catalog was re-issued on EMP/Universal/SPV worldwide in 2018.
Omen was formed in L.A. in 1983 by guitarist Kenny Powell and the band signed to Metal Blade Records in 1984. Their style is considered power metal and they built a loyal following with each album that they released. During the 80s they released: (1984) Battle Cry, (1985) Warning of Danger, (1986) The Curse, and (1988) Escape to Nowhere. Omen has released three studio albums since then. Sadly, In October 2003, their original singer, J.D. Kimball, died, having succumbed to cancer after three years of treatment.
Overkill was formed in 1980 in New Jersey as a sort of thrash metal crossover band. The band took the name Overkill from Motorhead’s album of the same name. The band released for high acclaimed albums during the 80s: Feel the Fire (1985), Taking Over (1987), Under the Influence (1988), and The Years of Decay (1989). The band’s success continued throughout the ’90s and 2000s and the band still has a huge following today. Overkill and Anthrax are considered two of the biggest Thrash metal bands on the East Coast in the United States. The current lineup has changed a lot since the early days but still features vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni.
Starting his career as the original singer for the legendary Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne became a household name as a solo artist in the 1980s. He formed his solo band with the guitar virtuoso, Randy Rhoads who was featured on Ozzy’s first two solo albums before his untimely death from an airplane crash. Osbourne was devastated by the loss of his friend but continued on featuring Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis on a live album called Speak Of The Devil featuring all Black Sabbath songs. Gillis quit after the album and Osbourne hired former Ratt guitarist Jake E. Lee to handle the guitars. Jake E. Lee was then let go after two successful albums and replaced by guitarist Zakk Wylde who was only 17 years old at the time. While Ozzy scored quite a few radio hits in the 90s, the albums released in the 80s are now considered to be classics. Ozzy’s solo albums released in the 80s were: Blizzard of Ozz (1980), Diary of a Madman (1981), Bark at the Moon (1983), The Ultimate Sin (1986), and No Rest for the Wicked (1988). Ozzy Osbourne is considered one of the founding fathers of heavy metal music for his work with Black Sabbath and his solo career. He continues to record solo albums to this day.
Paul Dianno’s Battlezone
Paul Di’Anno was the original Iron Maiden vocalist who was replaced by Bruce Dickinson. He then formed a solo band called Di’Anno that released only one album. After the breakup of his solo band, he created Paul Di’ Anno’s Battlezone. The band’s initial line-up featured Di’Anno, guitarists John Wiggins & John Hurley, bassist Laurence Kessler and Sid Falck on drums. The band released only two albums in the 80s: Fighting Back (1986) and Children of Madness (1987). The band imploding with members fighting with each other. A completely different lineup appeared on a later release called Feel My Pain (1998).
Poison released their debut album “Look What The Cat Dragged In” in 1986 and opened a whole new door for glam metal bands. While glam metal was already developing in the Hollywood club scene, Poison cranked the glam factor up to 11. The band, with the help of MTV and radio airplay went all the way to #3 on the charts, fueled by the singles “Talk Dirty to Me”, “I Want Action”, “I Won’t Forget You” and “Cry Tough”. The band released only one other album during the 80s, Open Up and Say… Ahh! (1988) which featured their only #1 hit, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. The album made it to #2 on the charts and propelled Poison to the forefront of the 80s metal scene as the era was coming to an end.
Pretty Boy Floyd
Pretty Boy Floyd is a glam metal band that was formed in 1987. They released their debut album Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz in 1989. The album spawned two singles that were a hit with the glam metal fans “Rock and Roll (Is Gonna Set the Night on Fire)” and “I Wanna Be with You”. The band broke up in 1991 but reunited again in 1995. Pretty Boy Floyd has since released two albums called Size Really Does Matter (2004) and Public Enemies (2017) both to critical acclaim. The original lineup of the band was Steve “Sex” Summers, Aeriel Stiles — guitar, Kristy “Krash” Majors – Guitar, Vinnie Chas — bass, and, Kari Kane – drums. The current lineup is Steve “Sex” Summers – Vocals (1987–1991, 1995–Present), Kristy “Krash” Majors – Guitar (1988-1990, 1995–2003, 2006–Present), Criss 6 – Bass (2019–Present) and Vik Foxx – Drums (2019–Present).
By the time Pretty Maids had released Future World, they were well known throughout Europe. Thanks to MTV the band received video airplay with this album, which exposed them to a larger audience. While mainstream success eluded them in the U.S. market, the band still enjoys a great following worldwide and continues to release great albums to this day. Future World is the best place to start if you’ve never heard the band before, but afterward, check out the rest of their discography for some great power / melodic metal albums.
Featuring vocalist Jeni Foster, Princess Pang was an exciting glam metal band that played sleazy hard rock. Unfortunately, they only released one album, the self-titled release in 1989. The album is available through Metal Blade Records and is still sought after by glam metal collectors worldwide.
Prophet released two albums in the 80s: Prophet (1985) and Cycle of the Moon (1988). The self-titled album featured future Danger Danger vocalist Ted Poley on drums. Prophet featured a more AOR style of melodic metal.
Queensryche was formed in 1980 with the original lineup consisting of guitarists Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo, drummer Scott Rockenfield, bassist Eddie Jackson, and lead vocalist Geoff Tate. Queensryche featured a unique style of power metal that was more technical and progressive. The band released a self-titled Ep in 1983 and then The Warning (1984), Rage for Order (1986), and Operation: Mindcrime (1988) during the 80s. Critics loved Queensryche’s output in the 80s and the band slowly built a following that continued on into the 90s. The band would go on to be Grammy-nominated several times only to see the band split apart over differences. Vocalist Geoff Tate left the band and went solo with Queensryche recruiting vocalist Todd Latorre to take over for Tate. Both Tate and Queensryche are still actively touring and recording.
Quiet Riot was the first heavy metal band to have a number-one single on the U.S. chart with “Cum On Feel The Noize”. Prior to their Metal Health album, the band had released two albums in Japan and had changed band members. The lineup of Kevin DuBrow, Rudy Sarzo, Carlos Cavazo, and Frankie Banali would become recognized as the classic lineup of Quiet Riot. The band released Metal Health (1983), Condition Critical (1984), QR III (1986), and QR in 1988, which featured former Rough Cutt vocalist Paul Shortino. Original vocalist Kevin Dubrow would return to the band until his death in 2007. Drummer Frankie Banali died in 2020 from complications of pancreatic cancer.
Racer X’s debut album Street Lethal featured the guitar prodigy Paul Gilbert, who would go on to fame in Mr. Big. Racer X is a true metal band in the vein of Judas Priest. The band enjoyed a great following because of their great musicianship and went on to release many critically acclaimed albums. Racer X sort of became the side project of Gilbert which often ran simultaneously with Mr. Big. While Racer X never reached the same level of success as Mr. Big, the band is notable for being an influence on many musicians who saw the band as the cream of the crop in musical abilities.
Rage Of Angels
Christian metal band Rage Of Angels released their only self-titled album in 1989. Featuring a sound that resembled secular metal which Christian metal fans were seeking, the band made a big splash on the Christian rock scene with just this one album. lead guitarist Chris Risola, rhythm guitarist Frank DiCostanzo, and the now-deceased drummer John Fowler would go on to form the original lineup of the glam metal band Steelheart featuring vocalist Miljenko Matijevic that was released in 1990.
Ratt hit the big time with gold, platinum, and multi-platinum album releases. Along with bands like Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, and Great White, Ratt helped form the Hollywood glam metal scene of the 80s. Ratt’s biggest hit came in the form of the song “Round and Round” from the album “Out Of The Cellar”. Led by enigmatic frontman Stephen Pearcy the band toured with Bon Jovi and continued creating best-selling albums throughout the 80s. Ratt released the albums: Ratt (EP) (1983), Out of the Cellar (1984), Invasion of Your Privacy (1985), Dancing Undercover (1986), Reach for the Sky (1988) during their 80s reign. Inner turmoil within the band caused Ratt to disband several times with Stephen Pearcy developing a successful solo career simultaneously. The band has featured different line-ups since the 80s but has kept the Ratt sound alive with Pearcy at the helm. Sadly, guitarist Robbin Crosby died in 2006.
This English metal band found success in the 80s with the albums: Rock Until You Drop (1981), Wiped Out (1982), All for One (1983), Stay Hard (1985), The Pack Is Back (1986), Life’s a Bitch (1987) and, Nothing Exceeds Like Excess (1988). The band was founded by brothers John and Mark Gallagher, along with Paul Bowden. They would go on to form a unique look that combined traditional metal leather and spikes with hockey, football, and baseball gear. Raven had their biggest hit with the song “On and On” from the Stay Hard album. Raven has consistently released solid metal albums over the years with their latest being Metal City (2020).
Former Riot vocalist Rhett Forrester released three solid solo albums “Gone With The Wind”(1984), “Even The Core (1988), and “Hell Or Highwater (1996). The latter was released as a memorial album. Rhett Forrester replaced Riot vocalist Guy Speranza on the “Restless Breed”(1982) album. Forrester was also featured on the Live EP “Riot Live” (1982) and “Born In America (1983). Riot split up briefly and Forrester would eventually embark on a solo career following several well-known collaborations. Tragically, Forrester was shot and killed in an attempted carjacking in Atlanta Georgia in 1994.
Riot actually started in the late 70s, but reached a larger audience in the 80s with the albums Fire Down Under (1981), Restless Breed (1982), Born in America (1983), and Thundersteel (1988). The band’s only constant member was founder and guitarist Mark Reale. Out of the four albums released in the 80s, three different vocalists were featured. Original Vocalist Guy Speranza died from pancreatic cancer on November 8, 2003. Second vocalist Rhett Forrester was shot and killed in Atlanta, Georgia on January 22, 1994. And former guitarist Lou “L.A.” Kouvaris died of COVID-19 on March 28, 2020. The band is now called Riot V after the death of the only original member Mark Reale, who died from complications resulting from Crohn’s disease in 2012.
Rock Goddess was formed by sisters Jody Turner (vocals and guitar) and Julie Turner (drums). The band released three albums in the 80s: (1983) Rock Goddess, (1983) Hell Hath No Fury and (1987) Young and Free. Rock Goddess made significant in-roads for women in metal and scored a decent hit with the song “I Didn’t Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock and Roll)”. The band broke up in 1988 but in 2019 they reformed and released a new album called “This Time”.
Rose Tattoo was a major influence on Guns N’ Roses, so much so, that GNR recorded two of their songs for their “Live Like A Suicide” EP release. While the band started in 1976, they didn’t release their first album until 1978. By the time “Assault & Battery” was released in 1981 the band had developed a reputation as bar-room brawlers and a real rock band with street-level credibility. Their sound was somewhat similar to that of another Australian band, AC/DC, The band has reformed several times over the years with different lineups and most recently released the album “Outlaws”(2020). Original guitarist Mick Cocks died of liver cancer in 2009.
Rough Cutt was managed by Wendy Dio, wife of the late, great Ronnie James Dio. Their debut album got them decent notice and their association with Dio didn’t hurt. The band became an overnight success in Japan. Their second album “Wants You!” saw their exposure improve through MTV and press coverage in rock magazines. While the band looked poised for a full-fledged breakout, they disbanded when vocalist Paul Shortino joined Quiet Riot, replacing original singer Kevin DuBrow. Shortino only recorded one album with Quiet Riot. Guitarist, Amir Derakh went on to form the glam band Jailhouse and later re-invented himself in the industrial rock band Orgy who had a hit single with the cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday”.
Glam rockers Roxx Gang released the album “Things You’ve Never Done Before” in 1988. It received critical acclaim and glam metal fans thought they had found the newest sensation in the scene, but the band would implode and change lineups before releasing new albums in the 90s. It all came out a little too late though, as the music climate had changed and record companies were looking at alternative bands to e the next big thing. The band’s albums were generally quite good and entertaining with vocalist Kevin Steele keeping things somewhat consistent.
German Metal band Running Wild started out with lyrics that revolved around satanic imagery, but in 1987 they helped pioneer the “Pirate Metal” sound with the release of “Under Jolly Roger”. The band concentrated on historical themes, especially around sailing after 1987, and became the Iron Maiden of pirates. They released the following albums during the 80s: Gates to Purgatory (1984), Branded and Exiled (1985) Under Jolly Roger (1987), Port Royal (1988), and Death or Glory (1989).
Sanctuary released the album Refuge Denied in 1988. Led by vocalist Warrel Dane and guitarist Lenny Rutledge, Sanctuary hit the scene as a thrashy power metal band. The album was produced by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and was well-received by metal fans. The band would release the album “Into The Mirror Black” before disbanding. Warrel Dane would go on to form the band Nevermore with Jeff Loomis. Sanctuary reunited for two more albums before Dane’s death in 2017.
Featuring vocalist Sandi Saraya, this female lead band was really quite good and deserved a shot at the big time. Releasing the album, Saraya (1989), the band found success with the single “Love Has Taken Its Toll” and eventually released a second album in When the Blackbird Sings (1991). Originally Polygram Records wanted to create a sex symbol out of vocalist Sandi Saraya similar to a female Bon Jovi. Musically the band was solid and has been one of the bands that flew under the radar but were known to 80s hard rock fans and collectors.
Savatage was started by brothers Jon and Criss Oliva from Tarpon Springs Florida. The band was prolific at releasing albums in the 80s which included: Sirens (1983), Power of the Night (1985), Fight for the Rock (1986), Hall of the Mountain King (1987), and Gutter Ballet (1989). The band often blurred the lines between power metal, symphonic metal, and occasionally even thrash. Tragedy struck when Criss Oliva was killed by a drunk driver in 1993. Savatage released four albums after Criss Oliva’s death but has been on hiatus ever since.
British band Saxon was very busy during the 80s releasing the following albums: Wheels of Steel (1980), Strong Arm of the Law (1980), Denim and Leather (1981), Power & the Glory (1983), Crusader (1984), Innocence Is No Excuse (1985), Rock the Nations (1986), and Destiny (1988). Led by vocalist Biff Byford. Saxon is often listed alongside Iron Maiden and Judas Priest as influential bands from the NWOBHM scene. The band could never quite capture the mainstream metal audience in the U.S. but was quite successful in Europe and Power & Glory is still their best-selling album to date. Saxon is still performing and recording today.
The Scorpions released four albums during the 80s, Animal Magnetism (1980), Blackout (1982), Love at First Sting (1984), and Savage Amusement (1988). While all of them would receive great critical reviews, the band picked up speed with the album “Blackout” in 1982, which was driven by the single “No One Like You”. It was “Love At First Sting” that would finally bring the band the huge international fame that they had been seeking. The smash single “Rock You Like A Hurricane” put the band up to #6 on the Billboard charts and went 3 X platinum in sales. The band is reportedly working on material for a 19th studio album.
Sea Hags were a San Franciso-based band that showed up at the end of the era of glam metal with their self-titled album in 1989. The band had actually started in 1985, but the band struggled with both time and finances to record an album until 1989. The Sea Hags had a bluesy sleaze metal sound that resonated with listeners but just came along at the wrong time. Guitarist Frank Wilsey would later join Stephen Pearcy in the bands Arcade and Nitronic.
Detroit rockers Seduce were pushed into the spotlight in the movie “The Decline Of Western Civilization Part Two: The Metal Years”. The band released their self-titled debut album in 1985. The band was interviewed and performed their song “Crash Landing” in the documentary “The Decline Of Western Civilization Part Two: The Metal Years”. Seduce released a second album “Too Much Ain’t Enough” in 1988 and it was well-liked by fans and critics alike. Seduce broke up in 1991. The two full-length albums are still highly sought after by metal record collectors and the band has achieved a cult following their movie appearance in Penelope Spheeris’ documentary.
This Japanese band started in 1982 and has featured different lineups over the years with vocalist Demon Kakka as the only constant member. They have been compared to KISS for their elaborate costumes and use of black and white makeup. The band has sold over 10 Million records in Japan. Seikima-II released the following albums during the 1980s: Seikima II – Akuma ga Kitarite Heavy Metal (聖飢魔II〜悪魔が来たりてヘヴィメタる, 1985), The End of the Century (1986), From Hell with Love (地獄より愛をこめて, 1986), Big Time Changes (1987) and The Outer Mission (1988). The band have a long career and officially disbanded in 1999.
Shok Paris released the album “Go For The Throat” in 1984. It received critical acclaim. They released the follow-up, Steel, and Starlight in 1987 on I.R.S. Records and is considered by many fans to be the band’s best work. They would release “Concrete Killers in 1989. After a long hiatus, Shok Paris returned in 2019 to release a brand new album called “Full Metal Jacket”.
Shark Island debuted their major label album “Law Of The Order” in 1989 for Epic Records. Prior to this album release, the band was known around the L.A. music scene simply as “The Sharks”. The band was a regular on the Sunset Strip but failed to turn their success in the clubs into successful album sales. While “Law Of The Order” was well received by the bands’ fans it simply didn’t get much promotion because of the changing musical climate. Shark Island has since reformed with different lineups and released the albums “Gathering Of The Faithful” (2006) and the critically acclaimed “Bloodline” in 2019.
Swedish glam metallers “Shotgun Messiah” impressed a lot of people with their trashy, sleaze sound on their self-titled debut in 1989. The band was originally called Kingpin but changed their name to Shotgun Messiah with their sights set on the L.A. Music scene. Original vocalist Zinny J. Zan left the band one year after the debut album and Bassist Tim Tim (Tim Skold) took over vocal duties. The band released the albums Second Coming (1991), I Want More EP (1992), and Violent New Breed (1993). Tim Skold would later go on to join industrial rockers KMFDM and perform with Marilyn Manson as well as a solo artist with his own band SKOLD. Original vocalist Zinny J. Zan released a solo album and two albums with his band The Zan Clan. Rumors have swirled recently that Tim Skold may be planning to reform Shotgun Messiah.
This German band led by Mat Sinner is often compared to another great metal band, The Pretty Maids. The band started in 1982 and released the following albums in the 1980s: Wild ‘n’ Evil (1982), Fast Decision (1983), Danger Zone (1984), Touch of Sin (1985), Comin’ Out Fighting (1986), and Dangerous Charm (1987). Mat Sinner would later go on to join the band Primal Fear as bassist and backing vocalist and Sinner still releases new material, their latest album was released in 2019. Originally the band was a much heavier, traditional style metal band, but moved to a more melodic metal sound over the years.
After hitting the charts with their debut album in 1989 the band scored a 5 Times platinum album with this debut for Atlantic Records. With singles like “Youth Gone Wild and 18 And Life, the band was almost instantly propelled to the top of the metal scene. The classic lineup would only record two more albums and an EP before splitting with singer Sebastian Bach. Skid Row is probably one of the 80s metal bands that fans would most like to see reunite. Skid Row continues as a band these days with a different vocalist and drummer, while Sebastian Bach has managed to carve out a very successful solo career over the years.
Formed in 1985, Slave Raider released two albums in the 80s: Take The World By Storm (1986) and What Do You Know About Rock ‘N Roll? (1988). An interesting cross between pirate attire and glam, the band was known for their wild antics including lead vocalist Chainsaw Caine using a chainsaw on stage during the performance. The band opened for bands like Poison and Ratt, but never quite caught on with glam metal fans. The band did have the song “Make Some Noise” appear in 1988’s License to Drive movie.
Smashed Gladys hit the L.A. glam scene and released 3 great singles from their album “Social Intercourse”. The songs”17 Goin’ on Crazy”, “Lick it Into Shape” and “Legs Up” were all great tracks that should have brought the band way more attention and exposure than they did. The band seemed to be another victim of lack of promotion. Rarely seen in rock magazines, on MTV, and with virtually no radio airplay, it’s a mystery what happened with their promotional team. Led by singer Sally Cato, the band released “Social Intercourse as their major-label debut. The band released one more album, years later, which appeared to be early songs and possibly pre-released EP material. It’s a shame that they didn’t receive more acclaim.
Sound Barrier broke the color barrier in heavy metal by being one of the first metal bands to have all black members. Formed in 1980, the band was started by Bernie K. And Spacey T. who had originally met in a funk band. The band released the album “Total Control” in 1983. The debut album only sold 12,000 copies and they were dropped by MCA records for lack of sales. The band released “Speed Of Light” (1986) after signing with Metal Blade Records. However, the band split up a year later. Vocalist Bernie K went on to sing on the critically acclaimed “Fire In The Rain” album by guitar virtuoso Alex Masi. The band briefly reformed and released the single “I’m Just A Man” in 2017 on Tom Morello’s (Rage Against The Machine) Firebrand Records.
Steeler released their debut album with featured Ron Keel on vocals and the first U.S. appearance of Swedish guitar master Yngwie Malmsteen. The brainchild of Shrapnel Records founder Mike Varney brought the project together. Although the band didn’t hold together for very long with Malmsteen departing for Alcatrazz before his own solo career and Keel leaving to concentrate on the band that would ultimately bear his name, this is a great notable piece of heavy metal history. While the band is most famous for having Keel and Malmsteen together, the other musicians were unfortunately overshadowed. Both Rik Fox on bass and Mark Edwards would turn up in other influential bands throughout the 80’s such as W.A.S.P. and Lion.
The German band called Steeler took the name from the Judas Priest song. They are probably most famous for having guitar guru Axel Rudi Pell in the band, who would go on to forge a solo career afterward. Steeler released the following albums in the 1980s: Steeler (1984), Rulin’ the Earth (1985), Strike Back (1986), and Undercover Animal (1988). After the break-up of Steeler, vocalist Peter Burtz became the editor-in-chief of Metal Hammer Germany from 1989 to 1991.
Fans of Kingdom Come will recognize the vocals of Lenny Wolf on these early 80s albums by Stone Fury. The band released two albums: Burns Like a Star (1984), Let Them Talk (1986) but couldn’t quite reach a large audience. The band received rave critical reviews but success eluded them. However, Wolf would find success on a much larger scale later with Kingdom Come.
Stryper’s contribution to Christian metal is the equivalent of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest in the non-christian metal world. I never really got the goofy outfits that looked like bumblebees. They are however quality musicians who brought Christian metal to the mainstream in the 1980s. During the 80s they released the following albums: The Yellow and Black Attack (1984), Soldiers Under Command (1985), To Hell with the Devil (1986), and In God We Trust (1988). The band received heavy rotation on MTV and fans have applauded their work in recent years as some of the best of their entire career.
Sweet Pain took their name from the KISS song, signed to Combat Records, and released their only album in 1985. Notable for featuring a then-unknown Kelly Nickels on bass, who would later go on to join L.A. Guns. The album actually features the recording of the song “Shoot For Thrills (In The Night)” written by Nickels, which would also appear on L.A. Guns’ self-titled album. Sweet Pain was a decent glam rock band that literally disappeared overnight. The album is quite rare and sought out by collectors since it has long been out of print.
Sweet Savage was a glam band based out of Texas that just never reached the next level. I’m sure the cover photos of all 4 members appearing shirtless with bleached blonde hair didn’t help their case. Musically, they were considered a little more bubblegum glam than bands like Poison but had great catchy songs that earned them a following. Their debut EP was produced by none other than Dana Strum, who later go on to play bass in the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and Slaughter. They received the most attention with their cover version of Sweet’s “Fox On The Run”.
Sword is an outstanding true metal band that just got lost in the shuffle. Metalized should have brought these guys into the limelight because it’s own hell of a great metal record. It’s outstanding from beginning to end, especially considering it’s their debut release. The band went on to release one more album which also received praise from critics and fans. The band eventually broke up, but has reformed recently and has joined the newly re-formed Combat Records label owned by Megadeth’s David Ellefson. The band is currently working on new material to be released in the near future.
T.T. Quick was formed in 1980 and then hit the scene in 1984 with their debut EP. Singer Mark Tornillo would later replace Udo Dirkschneider as the vocalist in the German band Accept. T.T. Quick released the following albums in the 80s decade: TT Quick EP (1984), Metal Of Honor (1986), and Sloppy Seconds (1989). The band had a following of die-hard fans but never found the big success that other bands from the 80s found. T.T. Quick is a great band for those looking for hidden gems that they somehow missed years ago.
Talas is famous for being bassist Billy Sheehan’s first full-time band and it helped him showcase his abilities. Of course, Sheehan would later go on to play in David Lee Roth’s solo band and Mr. Big. Both Shy Boy (David Lee Roth) and Addicted To That Rush (Mr. Big) were written by Sheehan while in Talas. Talas released two albums in the 80s: (1982) Sink Your Teeth into That and
(1983) Live Speed on Ice. The band’s biggest success came when they opened 30 dates for Van Halen in 1980, but they never could make it much further in a crowded field of metal bands.
Already famous for his rock n’ roll antics during the ’70s, Ted Nugent tried to appeal to the 80s metal fans with most of his output during the 80s, which included: Scream Dream (1980), Intensities in 10 Cities (1981), Nugent (1982), Penetrator (1984), Little Miss Dangerous (1986) and If You Can’t Lick ‘Em…Lick ‘Em (1988). Nugent also employed various lead vocalists during this time. Critics were harsh on Nugent’s releases during the 80s but he managed to swing some commercial success and would go on to form the supergroup The Damn Yankees in 1990.
Originally named City Kidd, Tesla released their debut album “Mechanical Resonance” in 1986. Tesla’s original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat, and drummer Troy Luccketta. Tesla only released two albums in the 80s, Mechanical Resonance (1986) and The Great Radio Controversy (1989). The Great Radio Controversy had five hit singles which took the album to double-platinum status. Tesla has since released 6 more albums and continues on to this day.
Along with bands like Metallica and Exodus, Testament was one of the early San Francisco Bay Area Thrash bands to break new ground musically. While the band was formed in 1983, they didn’t release their debut album until 1987. Testament released three albums in the 80s: The Legacy (1987), The New Order (1988) and, Practice What You Preach (1989). While the band never achieved the commercial success of Metallica or Megadeth, they have continued to keep a steady fanbase and a lengthy discography.
This Canadian band formed around singer Jon Mikl Thor was known more for their theatrics than their music. Singer Thor was a bodybuilder who used his physique almost as a prop. The 80s saw the band release the albums: Only the Strong (1985), Recruits – Wild in the Streets (1986), and The Edge of Hell (1986) (credited as Tritonz). The band broke up in 1987 and Thor decided to try his hand at acting in such movies as Recruits (1986), Zombie Nightmare (1987), and Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987). The band would reform many times with various lineups. A documentary film, I Am Thor, was released in 2015 and revitalized Jon Mikl Thor’s career, who continues to release albums.
Tigertailz was the U.K.’s version of Poison. Musically their debut was much heavier than Poison’s. The band featured vocalist Steevi Jaimz on vocals, who had a more gruff voice that contributed to the band sounding less like a bubblegum glam band and more like a sleaze rock band in the vein of L.A. Guns or Faster Pussycat. Young And Crazy was a fantastic debut, but the band parted ways with Steevi Jaimz after this release. While they continued on with other vocalists, and still do today, they never reached the level that they achieved with the first album. Young And Crazy was one of the best glam metal releases of the ’80s. If you can find this one, you should get it. It’s great on every level.
TKO released “In Your Face” in 1984. Raspy-voiced vocalist Brad Sinsel gave the band a decidedly heavier sound, while still being melodic. The band had a raw “street” sound that provided a sleazy hard rock sound mixed with classic heavy metal. The band based out of Seattle signed with Combat Records and later released the album “Below The Belt” for Roadrunner Records in 1986. Vocalist Brad Sinsel went on to front the band “War Babies” which released their only album in 1992 and had a minor hit with the song “Hang Me Up”.
Norwegian metal band TNT started in 1982 and featured an amazing guitarist named Ronni Le Tekro. Originally the band featured Dag Ingebrigtsen on vocals but would recruit California singer Tony Harnell who appeared on their second album. With Harnell on vocals, the band reached a wider audience and increased its sales and presence worldwide. MTV helped the band with a heavy rotation of several videos but TNT never made it to the top of the charts. TNT released the following albums circa the 80s: (1982) TNT, (1984) Knights of the New Thunder, (1987) Tell No Tales, and (1989) Intuition
This English heavy metal band hit the scene in 1982. While they’re considered part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the band would change their sound and image as well as lineups a little too frequently. By 1987 the band sounded closer to the glam metal bands of Hollywood than their original sound which was closer to early Diamond Head. Their 80s albums are: Tokyo Blade (1983), Night of the Blade (1984), Black Hearts & Jaded Spades (1985), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1987) and, No Remorse (1989). The album Night Of The Blade released in 1984 is probably their most popular and well-known release. Tokyo Blade is still alive and well and making new albums as of 2020.
Tuff Luck was a really talented band that fell victim to not being able to land a big record contract. The band was based in South Florida and were drawing thousands of people to their local shows. they did however release one album for Ann Boleyn’s New Renaissance Records. The album is still sought after by collectors and fetches top dollars in auctions. The self-titled album had some great tracks like “Sleaze if you Please”, “Take It or Leave It” and “Tonight, Tonight”. The band released a second album in 1993 but it failed to capture the spirit of the original album. A documentary DVD was also filmed showing the band’s struggles that kept them from reaching the top of charts alongside bands like Dokken, Ratt, and Motley Crue.
Twisted Sister became a 12 year overnight sensation when they broke it big with their “Stay Hungry” album. Originally from New Jersey and later relocating to New York, these East coast rockers paid their dues for ten years playing the local club scene. The band would little by little collect new fans along the way. The band became an underground hit with their first album and opened a tour for Motorhead. Their second album was released on a major label and helped build their fanbase even further. Stay Hungry pushed the band into superstar territory and the album went multi-platinum in sales. However, the band would never reach this level of fame or sales again. The band began to fight amongst themselves and eventually disbanded for many years. Dee Snider has since forged a solo career. Drummer A.J. Pero died from a heart condition in 2015. Twisted Sister’s 80s albums: Under the Blade (1982), You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll (1983), Stay Hungry (1984), Come Out and Play (1985) and Love Is For Suckers (1987)
Tygers Of Pan Tang
The Tygers Of Pan Tang is probably most notable for featuring guitarist John Sykes on the albums Spellbound and Crazy Nights. Sykes would of course go on to work with David Coverdale in Whitesnake which would release one of the biggest hard rock albums of the 80s. Tygers Of Pan Tang would disband and reform multiple times with various members in the lineup but are still active as of 2020. Tygers Of Pan Tang released the following albums in the 1980s: Wild Cat (1980), Spellbound (1981), Crazy Nights (1981), The Cage (1982), The Wreck-Age (1985), and Burning in the Shade (1987)
Tytan features a then-unknown Scottish vocalist Norman ‘Kal’ Swan who would later front the critically acclaimed glam metal band Lion. Tytan also featured bassist Kevin Riddles and drummer Dave Dufort and guitarist Steve Gibbs The band’s only album Rough Justice (1985) was released after they had already broken up from the original recordings that were planned for an album prior to Swan’s departure.
After Udo Dirkschneider parted ways with his longtime band members of Accept, he branched out with his own solo band. While U.D.O. has released 17 albums throughout its existence, only two of those albums were released during the 80s decade. Animal House (1987) and Mean Machine (1989) were both great albums and fans of Udo’s work in Accept got a taste of the same metal power only a little heavier and angrier in tone. U.D.O. toured extensively with bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, and Guns N’ Roses around the releases of the first two albums.
UFO actually started as a band in 1970 with their first album release. They remained popular throughout the ’70s and released the following albums in the 80s: No Place to Run (1980)
The Wild, the Willing, and the Innocent (1981), Mechanix (1982), Making Contact (1983), and Misdemeanor (1985). The band attempted to cash in on the hair metal movement by changing their sound to a somewhat more pop-rock style and releasing singles aimed at the metal radio audience. While the band is probably more famous for their 70s material which included Michael Schenker on guitar, their releases in the 80s are all top-notch high-quality rock.
Vamp released their only release “The Rich Don’t Rock” in 1989 and it’s a totally underrated hidden gem of the hair metal scene. The album was released on Atlantic Records and is hard to find. Collectors are often on the lookout for this album and those who have it and have heard it, know that it’s a great album from the era. Drummer Dicki Fliszar would go on to work with Jack Russell’s Great White.
Van Halen was the epitome of rock stars in the late ’70s and early ’80s. They had the guitar hero Edward Van Halen, who took rock guitar playing to a new level, and the blonde mane and wild frontman antics of David Lee Roth. But, apparently, things weren’t always as they seemed behind the scenes. Once again the band had grown in success with each album that they released, culminating in “1984” which saw the band at the top of the charts. But David Lee Roth decided to take a break and pursue a solo career which ultimately proved to the undoing of the band. After the band parted ways with Roth, they chose to replace him with Sammy Hagar, former vocalist for Montrose and solo artist in his own right. The band received more airplay on the radio and MTV with what many fans considered to be a softer version of Van Halen often referred to as Van Hagar by fans who saw this as a completely different band than the Van Halen with Roth.
This band centered around Dutch guitarist Adrian Vandenberg would release three albums in the 80s: (1982) Vandenberg, (1983) Heading for a Storm and, (1985) Alibi. By 1987, Adrian Vandenberg had done some guest solo work on the epic Whitesnake album (1987) and was recruited by David Coverdale to join the band. The other members went on to various projects while Vandenberg was in Whitesnake but on May 29, 2020, Vandenberg would release their first studio album in 35 years, simply titled 2020.
Venom was originally tied to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in the early 80s. During those years the band released the albums: Welcome to Hell (1981), Black Metal (1982), At War with Satan (1984), Possessed (1985), Calm Before the Storm (1987) and, Prime Evil (1989). With Satanism and pagan symbolism at the forefront of the band’s lyrics and appearance, they often drew criticism for being overtly offensive. Venom inspired a lot of the bands who created the Norwegian Black Metal scene. These days Venom looks harmless compared to the Black Metal bands that emerged after them. However, the band has a rightful place in metal history for stretching the boundaries of metal during the 80s.
Vicious Rumors released two great metal albums in the 1980s: (1985) Soldiers of the Night and (1988) Digital Dictator. While the band didn’t reach a large commercial metal audience in the U.S., they were critically acclaimed and reached the charts in Europe, Japan, and other countries. Released on Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records, the first two albums are now considered classic power metal albums. Vicious Rumors is another great metal band that’s extremely underrated in the genre.
German metal band Victory released the following albums in the 1980s: (1985) Victory, (1986) Don’t Get Mad… Get Even, (1987) Hungry Hearts and, (1989) Culture Killed the Native. The band was recommended by Michael Schenker to get a deal and they had former Gary Moore and Ted Nugent singer on vocals. Victory had decent success during the 80s worldwide and once ranked alongside Scorpions, Accept, and Helloween as one of the most popular German metal bands.
Another guitarist to gain exposure from Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records, Vinnie Moore released his debut album Mind’s Eye in 1986. He would follow it up with Time Odyssey two years later in 1988. Both albums were critically acclaimed and helped him achieve the notoriety of being a “Guitar Shredder”. Vinnie Moore played lead guitar with the heavy metal band Vicious Rumors on their debut album, Soldiers of the Night (1985). Moore joined Alice Cooper’s band and appeared on the Hey Stoopid album in 1991. Vinnie Moore has been the lead guitarist for UFO since June 2003.
Vinnie Vincent Invasion
After being released as the guitarist in KISS, Vinnie Vincent formed his own band called the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. Featuring Vinnie, Dana Strum on bass, Bobby Rock on drums, and former Journey vocalist Robert Fleischman. This lineup recorded the debut album and found success touring with bands like Iron Maiden after the album’s release in 1986. The band’s look was entirely over the top glam. Fleischman would be replaced before the first tour and the second album “All Systems Go” which featured Mark Slaughter on vocals. However tension within the band members and Vinnie Vincent lead to Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum leaving to form the band “Slaughter”. Bobby Rock would go on to play drums with Nelson and Lita Ford among others. The Vinnie Vincent Invasion received great reviews from fans and critics alike, but the band’s implosion lead to Vincent becoming somewhat of a recluse and rarely releasing any new material afterward.
Virgin Steele was formed in 1981 and released the following albums in the 80s: (1982) Virgin Steele, (1983) Guardians of the Flame, (1985) Noble Savage and, (1988) Age of Consent. Considered the classic period of the band which featured guitarist Jack Starr, Virgin Steele couldn’t quite find a commercial audience. They would often cross the lines of power metal with epic rock in the vein of bands like Rainbow. Virgin Steele still releases new material albeit with a very different lineup these days.
While the band was formed in 1980, Vixen wouldn’t find commercial success until they released their debut album, Vixen in 1988. It was a successful debut album and it reached #41 on the Billboard charts. This all-female outfit found fame and fortune in the 80s rock scene. Sadly, guitarist Jan Kuehnemund died from cancer in 2013 at the age of 59. Vixen has released four studio albums and the band continues on today with vocalist Lorraine Lewis (Femme Fatale) replacing Janet Gardener.
W.A.S.P. was formed in 1982 in Los Angeles. The original lineup featured Blackie Lawless, Randy Piper, Rik Fox, and Tony Richards. Rik Fox left the band and went on to work with Steeler. Chris Holmes would be added as lead guitarist before the band would record their debut album in 1984. W.A.S.P. released the albums: W.A.S.P. (1984), The Last Command (1985), Inside the Electric Circus (1986) and, The Headless Children (1989), the first two albums reached Gold record status in the U.S. Known for wild stage shows and raunchy performances that often included throwing chunks of raw meat into the audience, W.A.S.P. created a reputation of mixing metal with shock value. The band still records and tours today with Lawless being the only original member.
Warlock was formed in 1982 and the band’s entire album catalog was released during the 1980s. The band’s albums Burning the Witches (1984), Hellbound (1985), True as Steel (1986) and Triumph and Agony (1987) are considered classics. Warlock featuring vocalist Doro Pesch hit the metal scene in Germany and continued to grow their audience with each new album that they released. The band would find their most successful album to be Triumph & Agony released in 1987. By the end of 1988, Doro was the only remaining original member and she continued creating the same style of music with her solo band simply called Doro. Doro Pesch has been given the nickname “The Queen Of Metal” and has been a direct influence on many female singers that have carried the torch going forward.
While Warrant is considered one of the most popular 80s metal acts, they actually only released one album during that period which was Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (1989). Warrant started in the L.A. club scene in 1984 but wouldn’t release their debut album until some five years later. Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich reached #10 on the Billboard Charts and spawned four hit singles including the power ballad “Heaven” which made it all the way to # 2. The band would release the hit album Cherry Pie in 1990 that cemented their place in the metal scene. Singer Jani Lane tragically died at the age of 47 in 2011 from acute alcohol poisoning. The band has since recruited singer Robert Mason (Lynch Mob) to handle the vocals and the band continues on to this day.
Warrior released the space-themed album Fighting For The Earth in 1985. For a band that was previously unknown, these guys put together a really solid classic-sounding metal album. Singer Paramore McCarty has a voice that combines gritty and high-pitched screams. Overall, the entire album is well done and shows a maturity that many other bands did not display at the time. McCarty resurfaced as Perry McCarty serving as the lead vocalist for Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. In 1998 Warrior released the album called Ancient Future with McCarty. The band has also released two other albums which featured vocalists Marc Storace of Krokus and Rob Rock.
Waysted released their debut album “Vices” in 1983 on Chrysalis Records. The band features former UFO bassist Pete Way, as well as Fin Muir on vocals, Ronnie Kayfield on lead guitar, Paul Raymond on rhythm guitar, and Frank Noon on drums. After Vices, the band released Waysted – EP (1984), The Good the Bad the Waysted (1985), Save Your Prayers (1986), Wilderness of Mirrors (2000), You Won’t Get Out Alive (2000), Back from the Dead (2004), The Harsh Reality (2007), and Totally Waysted (2008). The band received another shot at stardom in the U.S. with the album “Save Your Prayers” which featured future Tyketto vocalist Danny Vaughan. “Save Your Prayers” had a more commercial radio-friendly appeal to the sound but also failed to sell a large number of albums with limited promotion.
White Lion formed in 1983 and released their first album “Fight To Survive” in 1985. The band featured Mike Tramp – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, Vito Bratta – lead guitar, backing vocals, James LoMenzo – bass, backing vocals, and Greg D’Angelo – drums. The band hit it big with the release of the 1987 album “Pride”. The Pride album went double platinum in sales behind the singles “When The Children Cry” and “Wait”. White Lion released “Big Game” in 1989 which still went gold. White Lion would only release one more album in 1991 before calling it quits. Singer Mike Tramp briefly formed a new band called Freak Of Nature, attempted a new version of White Lion, and eventually went on to a successful solo career. Guitarist Vito Bratta basically dropped out of sight and now owns the rights to the entire White Lion music catalog. James LoMenzo and Greg D’Angelo joined Zakk Wylde’s band Pride & Glory which released one album.
White Sister was formed in 1980 in the L.A. area and released two albums: (1984) White Sister and (1986) Fashion by Passion. The band was featured on several movie soundtracks including Fright Night, Thrashin’, and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. The band had a slightly more AOR, melodic rock sound with heavy keyboards. After White Sister, three of the band members would go on to form another band called Tattoo Rodeo.
White Tiger was notable for featuring former KISS guitarist Mark St. John who played on the Animalize album, only to be released by the band and replaced by Bruce Kulick after being unable to play with acute tendonitis. St. John was a great player, but this album suffers from really poor production that burdens this album throughout. With more support and clean production and mix, Mark St. John might have re-established himself in the world of metal guitarists, but the album was purchased mostly by die-hard KISS fans and virtually no one else. This was the only album released by White Tiger. St. John released a few solo albums independently but never to the level of his previous success. Sadly, St, John died in 2007 from a brain hemorrhage.
This Canadian metal band released two albums in the 80s: Standing Alone (1984) and, Endangered Species (1986). Both albums cracked the top 200 in the U.S. but failed to generate any hits. The band released a music video for the song “She” which received some airplay on MTV. The band toured throughout the U.S., Japan, and Europe to support the albums but didn’t have the success that they had hoped for in finding a commercial audience. The band reunited in 2007 and released new material. They are currently active.
Whitecross formed in 1985 by singer Scott Wenzel and guitarist Rex Carroll and sounding like the Christian version of Ratt helped these guys find an audience of fans who desperately wanted a Christian band that sounded like the secular bands that were dominating the airwaves. Whitecross could have been up there with Stryper but was relegated to being sold mostly in Christian Book stores.
Originally the name of David Coverdale’s solo album, Whitesnake started as a full band in 1978 following David Coverdale’s exit from Deep Purple. In the early years, the band had a more blues-based sound, but would slowly move in the direction of hard rock and metal. Whitesnake was prolific during the 80s releasing the following albums: Ready an’ Willing (1980), Come an’ Get It (1981), Saints & Sinners (1982), Slide It In (1984), Whitesnake (1987), and Slip of the Tongue (1989). The band managed to reach a larger mainstream rock audience with the release of Slide It In in 1984 and reached the peak of fame with the release of the self-titled “Whitesnake” album in 1987 which went 8 times Platinum in the U.S. Whitesnake continues to record and tour, but vocalist David Coverdale has indicated that he may retire from touring soon.
In 1985, Kip Winger joined Alice Cooper’s band where he recorded for two albums and toured with the band. He left in 1987 to start his own band. Winger released their debut album Winger in 1988. The album hit #21 on the Billboard charts with singles like “Madalaine”, “Seventeen”, “Headed for a Heartbreak” and “Hungry”. The band would continue to find success into the early part of the 90s. Winger still has a devoted fanbase and the band continues to release new material every few years.
X-Cursion is another rare find and included on our list as it was Mark Slaughter’s first band. Of course, Mark would go on to front the bands Vinnie Vincent Invasion and Slaughter. X-Cursion is notable for helping to launch the career of Slaughter. The album was released on a small label and is difficult to find in any format as it is believed to be only originally released on vinyl.
XYZ was originally located in France where members Terry Ilous and Pat Fontaine are from. The band moved to L.A. during the 80s glam metal scene and got a deal in 1989 with Don Dokken as their producer. The band released their self-titled debut in 1989 and received airplay from the hit singles “Inside Out” and “What Keeps Me Loving You” and “Maggy”. While the band never achieved huge success in the U.S. they released several albums afterward and singer Ilous would go on to front the band “Great White” for several years after they parted way with singer Jack Russell.
Y & T
After originally starting out in the 70s as Yesterday And Today, the band shortened their name to Y & T and found a decent amount of fame during the 80s with the following albums: Earthshaker (1981), Black Tiger (1982), Mean Streak (1983), In Rock We Trust (1984), Down for the Count (1985) and, Contagious (1987). The band still exists and tours regularly with only singer, guitarist Dave Meniketti remaining as an original member. Former members Leonard Haze, Phil Kennemore, and Joey Alves have all sadly passed away.
Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen came to L.A. in the early 80s and performed in the band Steeler with Ron Keel and then joined the band Alcatrazz with Graham Bonnet. His neoclassical style would bring him praise from critics and fans alike. Malmsteen would then go on to a solo career with the albums (1984) Rising Force, (1985) Marching Out, (1986) Trilogy and (1988) Odyssey during the 1980s. Yngwie Malmsteen is consistently ranked among the world’s best rock guitarists.
Zebra is a three-piece hard rock band comprised of Randy Jackson (guitar and vocals), Felix Hanemann (bass, keyboards, and vocals), and Guy Gelso (drums and vocals). Releasing three albums during the 80s: Zebra (1983), No Tellin’ Lies (1984) and, 3.V (1986) the band achieved a Gold record with the first album. The songs “Who’s Behind the Door” and “Tell Me What You Want” were both solid hits in the U.S. Zebra last released an album of new material in 2003, but continues to perform live and has had a new album in the works since 2017.