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Forgotten Bands of the 1980s

Updated on May 26, 2011

Bon Jovi, Poison and Motley Crue are just a few of the 80s hair bands everyone has heard of. There were many other bands that maybe weren't as popular but were good, really good actually. For those of you over thirty, this will be a nostalgic trip down memory lane. As for the younger generation who enjoys listening to hair bands, you may want to add some of these to your playlist.

Twisted Sister

Frontman Dee Snider was quite a sight with big blonde crimped hair and make-up so heavy that it would make Tammy Fae Bakker shiver. Twisted Sister was very popular with hits like We're Not Gonna Take it and Burn in Hell. Dee Snider took on the PMRC in the late 1980s and, shockingly to some, came out as a devout Christian (which may explain the rocking cover to the Christmas hymm "O Come All Ye Faithful"). What kid of the 1980s can forget Twisted Sister's cameo in the classic Tim Burton movie, PeeWee's Big Adventure?


Whitesnake was an English rock band that was founded by frontman David Coverdale, after leaving his popular 60s band Deep Purple. Whitesnake was very popular with more than a handful of popular hit songs. Whitesnake's most memorable music video, Here I Go Again, features Tawny Kitaen in white lingerie dancing on husband David Coverdale's jaguar. Other popular songs include rock ballad Is This Love and Still of the Night.


Rock music in the 1980s was male dominated but there were some really cool all-girl bands.  The best of the bunch, hands down, is Vixen.  These girls rocked and blew a lot of male bands away.  They've admitted that they faced a lot of sexism.  Some people assumed they were groupies and a lot of male musicians thought they were not really playing.  Being tough as nails, they handled the criticism like the badass women they were.  Cryin' and Edge of a Broken Heart were just a few of their biggest hits.

Great White

Great White was formed in the late 1970s in Los Angeles but gained popularity in the late 1980s. Their album, Once Bitten, went platinum in 1987. Their second album, titled Twice Shy featured the hit song, Once Bitten, Twice Shy. Other good songs by Great White are Stick It, Save Your Love and Rock Me.


Tom Keifer was the frontman, guitarist and songwriter for Cinderella. It's an unusual name for a hard rocking 80s band but it worked. Cinderella was a success. Their music was glam metal but they had a lot of blues-rock songs, especially in later recordings. They had quite a few multi-platinum records. Hits like Don't Know What You Got Til It's Gone, Coming Home, Nobody's Fool and Gypsy Road were played constantly on radio stations and MTV.


Europe was a very popular and successful Sweedish band. They formed in 1979 and their sound was heavier than most glam bands. Europe reached international fame in the mid 1980s with the album Final Countdown. Hit songs include Carrie, Final Countdown, Cherokee and Superstious.


Tesla formed in Sacramento as the band City Kidd. When they hit it big their manager wanted them to change their name, so Tesla they became. Like Cinderella, Tesla's music can be classified as blues-rock. They had many hits and became quite famous in the late 1980s. Their first hit is the power ballad Love Song. Other hits include their version of the classic 70s song Signs, What You Give, Changes and Modern Day Cowboy.

Damn Yankees

Damn Yankees was formed in 1989 by rock n' roll greats Tommy Shaw of Styx, Ted Nugent of The Amboy Dukes, Jack Blades of Night Ranger and singer/solo artist Michael Cartellone. Ted Nugent explained that the name came to be because when anyone asked him how they sounded when they played together, Nugent would respond that they sounded like 'a bunch of Damn Yankees,' Their first album went double-platinum with hit songs like High Enough and Coming of Age.

Lita Ford

Lita Ford got her start as the guitarist for the teenage all-girl punk band The Runaways.  In the 1980s she re-invented herself as a sexy, rough and tough rock-n-roll goddess.  Boys lusted after her while girls wanted to be like her.  She rocked the guitar while singing hit songs like Kiss Me Deadly.  In 1989 she teamed up with fellow rocker Ozzy Osbourne and topped the charts with their hard rock ballad Close My Eyes Forever. 

White Lion

Danish vocalist Mike Tramp formed White Lion with the other band members in New York back in 1983. Their first single, Wait, was released in 1987. It didn't become a hit until MTV started airing the video months later. White Lion touched on many social issues with songs like When the Children Cry, Little Fighter and Cry for Freedom. All these songs also became big hits for White Lion.

Am I missing anything?  Please feel free to share your favorite 80s rock bands and songs. 


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    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 5 years ago from Chicago IL

      Thanks Kris! I agree!!

    • KrisNick09 profile image

      KrisNick09 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Lita Ford and Ozzy = Me listening intently! I love that song :) great hub!

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 5 years ago from Asheville NC

      Hi amymarie!

      Just wanted you to know that the anonymous comment came from me. Don't know how that happened. Guess I was having so much fun listening I timed out!

      anyway, great hub and even though Boston was not obscure by any means, for me, they Rocked!!!

      Voted up and everything else.:)


    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Ok AmyMarie_5

      You killed me with this one!!! And I loved dying! OMG I had other things to do but when I started viewing the video's I got sucked into the past!

      I'm a product of the 60's but Rock never dies!!!

      Voted up, awesome and DO SOME MORE!


      At 59 this is still one of my favorites from the 80's!!!

    • mcrawford76 profile image

      Matthew I Crawford 6 years ago from Greeley, Colorado

      Nice list - definitely got a few that I overlooked. Totally forgot about Vixen.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • profile image

      ruffridyer 6 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      My 5 year old grandson loves the Twisted sister vedio, "Were not gonna take it."

      When I first read it I thought you said Tawney Kitean Stood on her husbands JUGALER. That would have made an interesting statement.

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      Thanks for commenting Alastar. I don't know if Great White ever recovered from that fire. It was such a tragic thing to happen. I have always been a fan of Tesla's and yes they do have a huge following. I'll have to look into the Carolinas. Thanks for the tip.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Make Tammy Faye(bless her departed soul) shiver Ha ha good one amymarie. This is an extraordinary hub topic. Great White, did they ever recover from that horrible fire? Tesla had a faithful following kinda like deadheads wonder why they never had a big break through? Here's a one-up for you if interested- the Carolinas are experiencing a musical creation on an awesome scale- I'm to old to really do something on these bands but a younger person could do a bang up hub with a little research and listen. Peace amy.

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      Jaquie and Ravenblueu, thanks for commenting. Glad to know more people who love the music of this era.

      Thanks Baygirl33- yes we do have permission

      to use youtube videos. It's not like taking pics without permission. The person who posted the youtube video gets paid everytime their video is viewed so it's actually encouraged!

    • profile image

      baygirl33 6 years ago

      Hey !Love these especially Bon Jovi!I was still listening to the Platters,Frankie,Andy Williams but love these too.

      do we have to get permission for youtube vidios?

    • ravenblueu profile image

      ravenblueu 6 years ago from Somewhere Tropical

      Awesome list. I was introduced to music in the early 90's but I also grew up with songs from the 80's and 70's. Blast from the past indeed. Let's roll!

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      Great hub. It was a blast from the past! I definitely think that 80's music was the best. Voted up.

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      Ha! I was a big Warrant fan myself. I gotta admit it took me a long time to finish this hub. Everytime I researched a band I got stuck watching old videos on youtube. I miss the 80s!! Thanks for commenting!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Oh man, this hub brings me back. These are some great bands. I miss the big hair bands. I used to be a big Warrant fan, even though I am sure its not that "cool" to admit that. Awesome hub!