Written By Jason Voorhees
The world has been overcome by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are living in unchartered times...something that most people could have never imagined. As we continue along on this journey...many people have been forced out of work which means a lot more free time to kill. Some have implemented home workout programs. Others have began binge watching their favorite programs. There has even been a comeback for old school movies and documentaries...and then there are people like myself who enjoy writing.
As I clamor for the next headline, I thought it would be cool to take a look back at a time period that is near and dear to my heart. That time period of course was eighties metal...more specifically the glam metal sunset strip movement.
For me, this is where my passion for heavy metal first began....yes that's right. A time when bands were most known for their hair spray infested long hair and their playboy modelized makeup. An era where bands were measured by how many groupies they could fill a bus with. Groups that were fueled by a steady diet of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Glam metal became one of the quintessential genres of the 1980's.
Sometimes referred to as "hair metal", the glam era was a subgenre of heavy metal that mixed pop like hooks and riffs with 70's style glam rock. Please note that I truly don't prefer the term "hair metal" as it really is a derogatory term that only came into existence after the grunge movement had started.
So who are the top glam metal bands of all-time? We are looking for the definitive list of the top ten metal bands of the glam era...
Please take note...I have excluded bands like Def Leppard, KISS, Van Halen, Guns n' Roses, Skid Row, Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi among others who, while they were huge during the era and may have even gone "Glam" during that time period; they were not truly glam bands because they predated the scene, transcended the scene, or just really were not glam metal bands at all by definition.
Honorable Mentions- Autograph, Stryper, Quiet Riot, Tesla, Hanoi Rocks.
Without further ado...here is the definitive top ten glam metal bands of all-time...
Straight out of the suburbs of Philadelphia, Cinderella quickly rose to the top of the glam scene. The band produced several multi platinum albums, while many of their songs became a mainstay on MTV. The album 'Night Songs' sold 50,000 copies per week during a long stretch when it debuted in 1986. Lead vocalist Tom Keifer could sing with the best of them while Jeff Labar remained one of the most underrated guitarists of that era. This is a band that is so much better than they have ever gotten credit for. One of the true giants of glam for sure.
W.A.S.P. was one of the original bands to make it big from the "Sunset Strip Movement". Their stage show was a mix of glam and goth; violent and energetic. The lead vocalist Blackie Lawless would throw raw meat into the crowd. The band's song "Animal, Fuck Like A Beast" landed them on Tipper Gore's filthy fifteen list. This was the beginning of parental advisory labels on albums; which ironically only made the kids want to buy the album more. Their video "I Wanna Be Somebody" was an MTV stalwart which readily fueled their popularity. One of the greats!
George Lynch is one of the quintessential guitar players in glam. Dokken pumped out single after single during the MTV glam era. Don Dokken was one of the best vocalists of that time period as well. The band became popular with MTV smash hits like "Burnin' Like a Flame" and "Into the Fire." They are also known for their heavy ballad laden tracks like "Alone Again." Another single "Dream Warriors" became the lead single for the hit 3rd film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Unfortunately the band's legacy was marred by constant infighting between band members.
7. L.A. Guns
L.A. Guns formed out of the ashes of Guns n Roses and centered around the hot shot guitarist Traci Guns and vocalist Phil Lewis. The band was a sleazy mix of glam and punk. Their sound truly defined the epicenter of the era. They were not as raw and edgy as their counterparts of GNR, but still added that dangerous energy. Traci Guns appearing with short hair in the "Ballad of Jayne" video and all tattooed up in the "It's Over Now" video seemed way ahead of it's time while truly foreshadowing the new look 90's. Probably the most underrated glam metal band of all-time.
6. Faster Pussycat
Faster Pussycat was such a huge part of the Sunset Strip metal scene as no list would be complete without them. Lead vocalist Taime Downe co-owned the "Cathouse" with Riki Rachtman of Headbanger's Ball fame; the NUMBER ONE hangout for all metal heads, bands, and groupies during the 80's along with the "Rainbow Bar and Grill." The band was the epitome of sleaze and razzle with their long hair, denim and outrageous getup. Their biggest moment came with the hit single that became MTV royalty..."House of Pain." Glam metal in it's truest form here folks.
5. Twisted Sister
Dee Snider became the larger than life clown figure that put metal all over MTV during the 1980's. Their videos "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock" gained them glam metal royalty as MTV played them out. For awhile, the band even became one of the most popular bands in the world. Dee actually led the charge in court to defend metal and rock and roll in general; against Tipper Gore and her cohorts who were trying to attack the music scene. After the album 'Stay Hungry' their popularity would quickly decline and unfortunately they faded away. When they were on though their was no stopping them!
They were one of the true kings of the Sunset Strip movement. RATT were one of the first original waves of bands to have their records paraded all over MTV. Singles like "Round and Round", "Lay it Down" and "You're In Love" set record after record on MTV glory. The band continued to release hit singles throughout the eighties. Not too many bands can boast the catalog that these monsters cranked out with their first three records...all selling over one million copies...their debut album 'Out of the Cellar' going 3x platinum. Metallica once opened for them before taking their act to San Francisco. Definitely among the best of the best!
Jani Lane is arguably the greatest songwriter of the glam metal era. Warrant not only had the glam look, the hit songs and the hooks, but Jani Lane's lyrics were emotional, heartfelt and at times riveting. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is one of the most epic songs the band has ever produced and is a shining example of how far ahead they truly were at telling a story. Songs like "All My Bridges Are Burning" invoked themes of addiction with lyrics that told the truest of tales. Although the band really became defined by their hit single "Cherry Pie" they truly were so much more. Definitely one of the supreme leaders of the Sunset Strip montage.
No band perhaps defines this era more than Poison. They were one of the hardest working bands of all-time, earning every inch of fame through that strong ethic and dedication. No band looked more glam than Poison and they backed it up with amazing live shows and hit singles; which came quicker than you can say mingle. They are one of the most popular bands and even the slightest of fans can name every band member without hesitation. Bobby Dall once said that "I never wanted to become a musician, I wanted to be a Rockstar, and that's what I became!" Poison were the seminal Rockstars!
1. Motley Crue
The fountain of decadence. Sleazy and dangerous. No band had more of an impact on the glam metal scene than these guys. Motley Crue didn't just do drugs, they did all of the drugs. Motley Crue didn't just pimp women, they owned them. The glam metal scene was about excess and no one defined that more than The Crue. Another original member of the Sunset Strip to make it big. No band from this list can match their success. While their exploits and relationships away from the band make tabloid fodder, they have also enjoyed many other avenues besides music. Simply the best. Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars...Long Live the Crue!
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.