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

Updated on September 1, 2015
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 in the 80s and 90s was the exceptional vocal range and flawless guitar techniques. Many bands in the lipstick and leather era had high pitched vocalists. Yes, 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 hard rock 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 recording 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.

Live Concerts
Live Concerts | Source

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.

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 and glam metal bands have been touring Japan.

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

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’ compilations of hard rock bands. Compilation CDs of hard rock bands became excessively popular 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.

While only few hard rock bands from the 80s survived the alternative/grunge barrage of the 90s, many hard rock bands reunited or reformed 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.

100 Greatest 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 Kicks
  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. Cinderella
  74. Ratt
  75. Helix
  76. Aldo Nova
  77. TNT
  78. Jetboy
  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


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