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100 Best Hard Rock Bands of the 80s and 90s

Updated on January 1, 2019
Ansel Pereira profile image

I have been an online writer for over two years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

Hard RocK! The Name of the Game
Hard RocK! The Name of the Game | Source

Distorted guitars and aggressive vocal delivery alongside drums and bass give hard rock its signature sound. Bands such as Budgie, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple opened new doors for the hard rock scene to emerge in new light. The hard rock movement became a rage in the 80s with many bands releasing albums with a heavy rock sound infused with heavy metal elements. While heavy metal had an edgy-raw sound, the hard rock sound was heavy while being slick. What came to light in hard rock bands of the 80s and 90s was the exceptional vocal range and flawless guitar techniques.

Stage Lighting at Rock Concerts
Stage Lighting at Rock Concerts | Source

The Hard Rock Scene in the 80s and 90s

Many bands in the lipstick and leather era were known for their defined sound that showcased incredible vocal range backed with melodic instrumentation. Indeed, high pitched vocalists ruled supreme in the 80s and 90s. The strong rhythm section added dynamic crunch while the piercing guitar solos took songs soaring to a new level. Hard rock became insanely popular with rock music enthusiasts in the 80s and 90s, and the madness and mayhem for the genre has not faded. Post 2000, a new wave of hard rock bands have emerged crafting a new sound in rock realms. While only few hard rock bands in the 80s and 90s managed to strike record deals with major recording companies, many hard rock bands that promoted their albums on lesser known record labels or independently have become a rage with hard rock enthusiasts.

A slew of melodic rock bands emerged in the mid-eighties. The elements of melodic metal infused with the hard rock sound became the centrifugal aspect of many bands that released albums. Melodic hard rock bands gained popularity in US and Europe; however a number of melodic hard rock bands and glam metal bands became insanely popular in Japan. The Japanese market for hard rock is one of the biggest globally. The Hard rock genre and glam metal genre has a huge following in Japan. Since the 80s a large number of hard rock bands, melodic rock bands, AOR bands and glam metal bands have been touring Japan.

Which Rock Vocalist Has the Best Vocal Range and Sounds Exceptional when hitting the High Notes?

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Live Concerts
Live Concerts | Source

How Record Companies Cashed In on Hard Rock Phenomenon

Record companies were quick to capitalize on the popularity of hard rock bands in the 80s and 90s. As the popularity of hard rock grew in the mid 80s, many record labels started releasing ‘Greatest Hits’ and ‘Best of’ compilations of hard rock bands. Compilation CDs of hard rock bands became excessively popular in the 80s and early 90s. Sales of compilation CDs of Hard rock loves songs and power ballads hit a new level in the 80s and early 90s. Many bootleg CDs of hard rock bands that emerged in the 80s and 90s have earned the distinction of becoming collectibles. Hard rock enthusiasts are willing to pay insane amounts of money to get their hands on bootleg CDs of hard rock bands in the 80s.

Many hard rock albums in the 80s and 90s do not have reissues and are out of print, making the recordings rare. While albums of hard rock bands released on major record labels are available in present times, albums released on independent record labels and lesser known record labels have become collectibles and are rare to find. The hard rock and glam metal scene in the 80s combined exceedingly well bringing in a fresh new sound on albums. Many glam metal acts of the 80s were influenced heavily by the early hard rock that emerged in the 60s and continued through to the 70s. While only few hard rock bands from the 80s survived the alternative/grunge barrage of the 90s, many hard rock bands reunited or re-formed to tour and release albums post 2000. Also, a new wave of hard rock bands emerged bringing new identity to the hard rock sound. The hard rock scene has had its ups and downs, but one thing’s for sure… the hard rock a phenomenon is here to stay forever.

The space below showcases a diverse list of hard rock bands from the 80s and 90s. If you are passionate about the Hard rock scene in the 80s and 90s you will have something to say. Feel free to pour it all out in the comments section.

100 Best Hard Rock Bands of the 80s and 90s

  1. Judas Priest
  2. AC/ DC
  3. Black Sabbath
  4. Aerosmith
  5. Iron Maiden
  6. Van Halen
  7. Mr. Big
  8. Guns N’ Roses
  9. Kiss
  10. Motorhead
  11. Def Leppard
  12. Bon Jovi
  13. Y&T
  14. Scorpions
  15. Europe
  16. Damn Yankees
  17. Accept
  18. Saxon
  19. Bad English
  20. Foreigner

21. Triumph

22. Boston

23. UFO

24. Nazareth

25. Bad Company

26. Michael Schenker Group

27. Whitesnake

28. Quiet Riot

29. Extreme

30. April Wine

31. Uriah Heep

32. Cinderella

33. Molly Hatchet

34. Nelson

35. Autograph

36. Twisted Sister

37. Rainbow

38. Vandenberg

39. Loverboy

40. Gamma

41. Survivor

42. Dokken

43. Hanoi Rocks

44. Slaughter

45. Grim Reaper

46. Loudness

47. Tora Tora

48. Poison

49. Great White

50. White Lion

51. Danger Danger

52. Tesla

53. Baton Rogue

54. Lordi

55. Saigon Kick

56. Firehouse

57. Dangerous Toys

58. Salty Dog

59. Vinnie Vincent Invasion

60. Night Ranger

61. Thunder

62. Winger

63. Stryper

64. L.A. Guns

65. Giant

66. Tyketto

67. Kix

68. Steelheart

69. Ennuf Z’ Nuff

70. W.A.S.P.

71. Tora Tora

72. Motley Crue

73. ZZ Top

74. Ratt

75. Helix

76. Golden Earring

77. TNT

78. Skid Row

79. Whitecross

80. Steeler

81. BulletBoys

82. Vixen

83. Danzig

84. Faster Pussycat

85. Lynch Mob

86. Shotgun Messiah

87. Blue Murder

88. Trixter

89. King Cobra

90. Wrathchild

91. Hurricane

92. Babylon A.D.

93. Junkyard

94. House of Lords

95. SouthGang

96. Roxy Blue

97. Love/Hate

98. Fastway

99. Bang Tango

100. Rockhead

Other Notable Hard Rock Bands and Artists of the 80s and 90s

  • Gun
  • Femme Fatale
  • Moxy
  • Lee Aaron
  • Third Degree
  • Krokus
  • Shy
  • Coney Hatch
  • Dio
  • Fortune
  • Ezo
  • The Rods
  • Mad Max
  • Cold Sweat
  • Manilla Road
  • Pride
  • Leatherwolf
  • Rush
  • Asiana
  • 38 Special
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Karo
  • Badlands
  • Stone Fury
  • Alice Cooper
  • Magnum
  • Jagged Edge
  • Heart
  • Bad Steve
  • Kingdom Come
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Journey
  • Fighter
  • Xenon
  • TKO
  • Kick Axe
  • Fiona
  • Sinner
  • Blind Date
  • Lady Sabre
  • Treat
  • Fifth Angel
  • Bow Wow
  • LoudLion
  • Ez’ Livin
  • Samson
  • ASAP
  • Madison
  • Icon
  • Savatage

  • Ice Tiger
  • Warlock
  • Riot
  • Bangalore Choir
  • Eyes
  • Pretty Maids
  • Defcon
  • Lion
  • Rock Goddess
  • Blackfoot
  • Circus of Power
  • Jetboy
  • White Widdow
  • Britny Fox
  • Tygers of Pan Tang
  • Madam X
  • Fatum
  • Killer Dwarfs
  • Poison Dollys
  • Mama’s Boys
  • Girlschool
  • Nitro
  • Zebra
  • Casanova
  • Giuffria
  • Hericane Alice
  • Picture
  • Shogun
  • Phantom Blue
  • Asia
  • Lizzy Borden
  • Bonfire
  • Pretty Boy Floyd
  • Novella
  • London
  • Keel
  • Cutty Sark
  • The Dogs D’Amour
  • Chastain
  • Black N’ Blue
  • Saga
  • Ace Frehley
  • Tublatanka
  • Rage N’ Rox
  • Raging Slab
  • Vain
  • REO Speedwagon
  • O’Dette
  • Farcry
  • Tokyo Blade
  • Alcatrazz
  • Lillian Axe
  • Bittersweet
  • Agent Steel
  • Rose Tattoo
  • Jaded Heart
  • Rough Cutt
  • After Hours
  • Syren
  • Oney
  • Pariah

Which is the best Hard Rock Band of the 80s and 90s?

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© 2015 Ansel Pereira

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