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Top 10 - Best 80's Hair Bands

Updated on April 12, 2013

 In the 80's there was and explosion of "Techno Pop", mostly garbage like Wham, Bananarama, and so many other pointless bands. Most new music coming out was garbage that seemed to clog the airwaves. My friends and I found solice in classic rock, and heavy metal. But unfortunately the airtime they received was minimal. The only NEW pop music coming out that was any good was the "Hair Bands" or "Glam Rock" This is my tribute to the latter.

Scene from inside the Station Nightclub when the fire began
Scene from inside the Station Nightclub when the fire began
Station Nightclub - aftermath
Station Nightclub - aftermath

#10 - Great White

On the early train to the 80’s glam rock explosion, “Dante Fox” formed in LA in 1978, though they didn’t play a paying gig until 1981. Soon after hired a manager and changed their name to Great White. Allegedly named after guitarist Mark Kendalldue to his nearly white blond hair. The band got work wherever they could, playing the bar/club scene, and even playing 6 Flags amusement park. It wasn’t until 1983 that the band finally got a record deal, released an album, and jumped on a Whitesnake tour, then with Judas Priest, and later Dokken. The band didn’t find mainstream success until  1987 with the release of the album Once Bitten. Platinum by April of 88, it featured great rock hits like Rock Me, and Save Your Love. The album was quickly followed up by Twice Shy representing the apex of their popularity with the single Once Bitten Twice Shy. The band continued to tour through the 90’s, but as we all know, glam rock seemed to fizzle out quickly in the 90’s, and other than live shows, there wasn’t much money to be made. They toured with Skid Row, Bad English, The Scorpions, Europe, and Whitesnake. Their compilation album would hit record stores in 93. Mark Kendall departed from the band in 2000, followed soon after by Audie Desbrow and Sean Mcnabb. Through some tremulous times, the band fell apart. Until December 31st 2001 they played one final show at the Galaxy in Santa AnaCalifornia. They even released a live album entitles Thank you. . . .Goodnight. Notoriety would return February 20th, 2003 in West Warwick, Rhode Islandwhen the band’s pyrotechnics started the Station Nightclub Fire, 100 people including band guitarist Ty Logley died in the fire. With only two exits to the club and 234 people inside, along with fire department reports stating that the fire would have become fatal to anyone inside within 90 seconds. The band would begin a benefit tour to aid victims families throughout the next year. Though they’ve had a few more lineup changes, the band continues to tour today.


Notable Songs:

Shot in the Dark

Once Bitten Twice Shy

Sail Away 

Once Bitten Twice Shy

#9 - Cinderalla

Originating from Philadelphia, PA in 1983, Singer/songwriter/keyboardist/guitarist Tom Keifer was the undisputed front man and creative talent of the band. His original lineup all left the band early on to join Britny Fox, sure that was a good career move. But a reformed band would gain success after being seen by Jon Bon Jovi at the Empire rock club. That would lead to a 1985 record contract, and their debut album “Night Songs” it would reach triple platinum, selling 50,000 copies in one week. The band toured with rock legends Van Halen, and Bon Jovi, enhancing their popularity. Their second album released in 1988 sounded like an entirely different band, having shifted from the glam rock 80’s band into more of a rock/blues type sound. In 1991 Tom Keifer lost his voice due to a paresis of his vocal cords. He was replaced on stage by Ratt vocalist Stephen Pearcy. It is believed that this replacement during Keifer’s 3 year hiatus from the band caused their decline in popularity. By the time their fourth album was released in 1994, it seemed that their fans had all but vanished. Their compilation album was released in 96, a live album in 99, but overall sales were flat. They continued touring throughout it all. Keifer’s vocal cords hemorrhaged again in 2008 leading to another year of surgeries and rehab, but they were back on tour after a short leave, and are still at it today.


Notable Songs:

Shake Me

Nobody’s Fool

Gypsy Road

Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)

Nobody's Fool

#8 - Tesla

From SacramentoCalifornia, Tesla started rocking in 1984, with a record sales total of over 14 million in the United States. Their original band name “City Kidd” was apparently not well received as they changed their name during the recording of their first album Mechanical Resonance. Or maybe they just found Nikola Tesla to me a more interesting subject matter. Tesla’s music differed from a lot of the “Hair Bands” they were a little less mainstream, and a little more metal than most of the others on the list. But they had the big hair, the makeup and the leather pants, so they still made it. In the early days Tesla toured with David Lee Roth , Def Leppard , and Poison , which also made it easy to put them into the glam rock category. Their most notorious hit “Signs ” was actually a cover of a band by the Five Man Electrical Band . The band split in the summer of 1994 after the release of “Bust a Nut ” which seemed to resonate their problems with substance abuse and fast living. Sales were beyond flat. A reunion brought the band back together in 2000, and 2002. They released their fifth album in 2004 “Into the Now ” which debuted on the Billboard chart at #30. The album was well received and was making money. In 2008 they joined Winger playing a benefit concert for the survivors of the Station Nightclub Fire In 2010 Tesla announced that a new album is in the works.

Notable Songs:

Love Song

Modern Day Cowboy


What You Give


#7 - White Lion

Formed in New York City in 1983 by Danish singer Mike Tramp and American guitarist Vito Bratta. The band first signed with Electra Records in 1984, but their debut album Fight to Survive was not released by the record company. The album was eventually re-recorded and released in the US by an independent label. That label going bankrupt within months of releasing the album. The band did not gain notoriety until 1987 with their second album. The song “Wait” thrust them onto the MTV and radio scene. The next two years were filled with tours, and television events. The band produced music and spent some time trying to aid social issues like apartheid, and helping Greenpeace. Bratta dropped out of public sight in 1994, Tramp continues to work having formed a band in 2005 entitles Tramp’s White Lion. His last noted work is 2008 where he released a live album from the “Bang Your Head Festival” of 2005.


Notable Songs:


When Children Cry

Little Fighter

Radar Love (Golden Earring cover)


#6 - Slaughter

Vocalist Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum formed the band Slaughter in 1989, releasing their first album Stick it to Ya in 1990. The hit singles “Up All Night” and “Mad About You” along with their power ballad “Fly to the Angels” were enough to make the album double platinum. Their star seemed to shine very bright in the beginning, but fizzled fast. Their second album “The Wild Life” hit Billboard’s Hot 100 at #69, but sales weren’t the spectacular amounts their first album brought. After legal issues and record label issues, the band was broke. In 1993 guitarist Tim kelly was arrested for drug trafficking,  Dana Strum, bassist was involved in a motorcycle accident hearting his hand. By the time their third album was completed they had been dropped from their record label. They were finally able to release “Fear No Evil” through CMC Records, a relatively new label. Sales in Japan were successful, but the album was not well received in the US. A tragic car accident took the life of Tim kelly in 1998. Slaughter found some resurgence in 1999 during the “Rock Never Stops Tour” along with Ted Nugent and Night Ranger, along with some commercial fame when VH-1 released a power ballads CD. Their “Best of” album came out in 2004. Their most recent show was in FargoND in June of 2010, don’t ask me why?


Notable Songs:

 Up All Night

Fly to the Angels

Mad About You

Spend My Life


Fly To The Angels

#5 - Winger

Formed in New York City , front man Kip Winger seemed to have everything, he had the voice, the looks, and some great rock music. A former member of Alice Cooper’s band, and backup singer for Twisted Sister, Winger was formed in 1987. Their first album was released in 1988 on Atlantic Records, and was an overnight success with four singles coming off their first endeavor. In 1990 their second album “In the heart of the Young” came out and featured three more popular singles. When  Paul Taylor left the band in 1992 they seemed to flounder. They disbanded within a year, and Kip Winger’s solo career never really took off. A best of CD was released in 2002. About the time Kip paired with Alan parsons in 2006 for the Common Ground Music Festival there were rumors of a reunion with Paul Taylor, a new album and a European tour. Winger IV was released in October and there was a two week tour, not the blowout everyone expected. Their last noted event was in 2008 where Winger played a benefit concert for the survivors of the Station nightclub fire.


Notable Songs:


Headed for a Heartbreak

Miles Away

Can’t Get Enuff

Easy Come Easy Go

Easy Come, Easy Go

#4 - Warrant

Formed in HollywoodCalifornia in 1989, Warrant made five albums of their next seven years. International sales reached over 10 million copies. Their first hit “Heaven” streaked to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. More fame came with “Cherry Pie” in the early 90’s. The band continued to play concerts into the 2000’s despite multiple lineup changes. They were known as a “Sunset Strip Glam band” with heavy rifts and sentimental ballads. Their most successful live venue was in 1992 playing a number of spots in the “Monsters Of Rock” festival headlined by Iron Maiden. A “Latest and Greatest” album was released in 1999, but the sales were flat. 2008 brought a Warrant reunion, the new version of the band was scheduled to play in a concert that also featured Cinderella, but the concert was eventually cancelled after Tom Keifer (lead singer of Cinderella) had a hemorrhage in his vocal cords. A new album is scheduled for release in 2011.


Notable Songs:

Down Boys


Sometimes She Cries

Cherry Pie

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Cherry Pie

#3 - Skid Row

It was 1986, the Challenger Space shuttle explodes killing 7 astronauts, the world saw the first nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, The United States bombs Libya, and Skid Row’s 18 and life is on MTV. Coming from Toms River, New Jersey, their first two albums went multi-platinum. It seemed Sebastian Bach could do no wrong. Every song they came out with seemed to top the charts. It seemed Sebastian Bach could do no wrong until about 1989. It seemed to start when a bottle was thrown onto stage during a 1989 concert. Bach threw the bottle back hitting an innocent girl, and then jumping into the crowd to attack . The next year he was on stage donning a shirt at a 1990 concert reading “AIDS Kills F@#s Dead”. But even with that their 1991 album “Slave to the Grind” was a hit, reaching #1 in sales. Their third album Subhuman Race Ourselves was successful, though not nearly as popular as their first two albums. It seemed the band was on a decline. Details are sketchy about Sebastian Bach’s firing in late 1996, some sources say it was a dispute over playing for KISS on New Years Eve, other sources site creative differences. The band continued on a few years later with new lead vocalist Johnny Solinger, released two more albums, neither of which reached gold status.

Notable Songs:

18 and Life

Youth Gone Wild

I Remember You

I Remember You

#2 - Poison

The small town of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania isn’t known to many people that aren’t from the region. At least one notable thing came from Mechanicsburg; it is where the rock gods of Poison call home. In 1983 in the midst of the “80’s techno revolution” where seemingly every band was using synthesized sounds and the MTV generation was only a few years old, Poison was a stand out among emerging bands. C.C. DeVille’s heavy guitar rifts and Bret Michaels sultry voice made believers out of seemingly millions of rock teenagers. With over 30 million records sold worldwide, the ban had 10 top 40 singles. In the bands early years their original lead guitarist left the band for personal reasons. The auditions was attended by Slash (Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver) but was passed over due to his drab attire. The position was won by DeVille, who’s platinum white hair and glam looks stood out amongst other band members. When “Open Up and Say. . .Ahh! was released in 1988 it peaked at #2 on American charts. It would sell over 8 million copies worldwide. The band toured with David Lee Roth that same year and became the fifth-best-selling hard rock band of the 80’s. In the 90’s DeVille would struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, DeVille was released from the band in 1991. Poison continued to work through the 90’s but found as many other 80’s hair bands did that the musical movement was all but over. Their greatest hits album would be released in ’96. Bret Michaels stayed near the limelight in several ways, his relationship to Pamela Anderson, another studio album, a spot on “The Surreal Life” on VH-1, which in turn led to his own show “Rock of Love with Bret Michaels”. Poison, along with Bret Michaels and several new band members continued to tour, and released an 8th studio album. In the 2000’s Michaels stayed just in the public eye, with continuous tours, a spot on “Celebrity Apprentice”, a second season of Rock of Love, and multiple news articles stemming from his medical problems. C.C. DeVille, clean and sober, re-joined the band in 1996. Back with their original lineup, Bret Michaels, C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall, and Rikki Rocket continue to tour today.


Notable Songs:

Talk Dirty to Me

Rock and Roll All Nite

Nothin’ but a Good Time

Fallen Angel

Every Rose Has it’s Thorn

Something to Believe In

Fallen Angel

#1 - Motley Crüe

Arguably the hardest of the 80’s hair bands, Motley Crüe hit the LA. Rock scene in 1981. Founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, they were joined by lead guitarist Mick Mars and lead Singer Vince Neil. Their personas, their music, their videos, and their life all screamed excess and decadence. Live fast and die young seemed to be the theme. Releasing a total of nine studio albums selling more than 80 million records worldwide, the Crüe seemed to be everywhere in the 80’s. You couldn’t turn on MTV without seeing a video, the radio stations seemingly couldn’t keep up with all the requests, not to mention the local roller rinks. Where you could hear upwards of 10-15 songs a night. Their videos were filled with scantly clad tattooed women, motorcycles, big hair and a lot of makeup. In 1984 Neil was in a car accident, his passenger Nicholas Dingley of Hanoi Rocks was killed in the accident. Neil was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Ironically the band would later release two box sets called “Music to Crash Your Car to”. No I didn’t think it was very funny either. The 1987 near fatal heroin overdose of Nikki Sixx would be the inspiration to Kickstart My heart. A year later he would release “The Heroin Diaries: A year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star” which were diaries of his heroin use and near death experience. Vince Neil would leave the band in 92, Sixx was off with a new band “Sixx A.M.” It seemed the 90’s, and the end of glam rock would be the end of Motley Crüe. Their greatest hits album “Crücial Crüe” would be released in 1999. They wouldn’t rejoin until the fall of 2004 when Sixx and Neil would collaborate on a new album “Red, White & Crüe”. Pinning some classic Crüe songs along with three new tracks, the most notable being “If I Die Tomorrow”. The song echoed their past lives of hard drugs and fast living. The band would begin touring playing several shows in the late 2000’s, even headlining their own festival in 2009. They all continue to work, but their future is uncertain as it seems that Sixx, Neil, and Lee are at seemingly constant odds.

Notable Songs:

Shout at the Devil

Looks That Kill

Smokin’ in the Boys Room

Girls, Girls, Girls

Wild Side

Dr. Feelgood

Kickstart My Heart

Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)

Same Ol’ Situation

If I die Tomorrow

Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)


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    • profile image

      Pamela 2 years ago

      Thanky Thanky for all this good inoarmftion!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Great hub! I loved it.

      I was pleasantly surprised to see 3 of my own top 10 in this list - Great White, Cinderella, and White Lion. My other bands that I still listen to include White Snake, Europe, Queensryche (quite not the 80s but very creative indeed), Ratt, Dokken, etc.

      As someone has already pointed out, your facts on Cinderella need some research again. Other than that, this is a great write-up on some bands we all listened to in the 80s and are still continuing to listen to. Even my lad started listening to them when he got into grade 8 hahaha.

    • profile image

      Emil Olsson 3 years ago

      I think you forgot Bon Jovi and Europe... They were some of the biggest "hair" bands of the 80.

    • profile image

      Alluvio 3 years ago

      And what about Vain?

    • profile image

      Greatcuts 3 years ago

      Pete Burns had enormous hair! Bungendore Hairdressers

    • profile image

      DJXTC 4 years ago

      where def leppard

    • profile image

      gsurvivor 4 years ago

      Motley Crue all the way! \m/ Great list, a definite vote up from here :) Also, how come no Def Leppard, they should be in the top 3 imo.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      As a fellow 80's rocker, I approve of this list :-D I would add Stryper, Def Leppard, and Whitesnake to the list.

      If anything, I would have Slaughter and Skid Row, and maybe Warrant, in another category of bands that arrived later in the turn of the decade, like Firehouse, Guns n' Roses, Trixter, and others. Their styles (musical and appearance-wise) are a bit different than that of the stereotypical 80's hair band. But great hub anyway. Voted "Awesome"!

    • profile image

      Stephen Petrovich 4 years ago from MA

      Great list, I might change a couple, but very complete listing of some really great bands I still listen to today.

    • profile image

      Greg 5 years ago

      Glad to read your post, however your narrative of Cinderella is factually inaccurate. Stephen Pearcy never replaced Tom Keifer, or sang in Cinderella. Fred coury, the drummer, formed a different band with Pearcy called Arcade. Also, the original members did not "leave" Cinderella. Original guitar player and drummer were not wanted by record company. Bass player Eric Brittingham remained, and despite coury leaving for a couple of years in the 90s, those 4 still tour today.

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 5 years ago from Scotland

      Takes me back too. Those great days of the 80's and 90's. I would have gave Great White a miss though. The only thing I recall was their cover version of 'Once Bitten Twice Shy' and a poor support slot to Queensryche at the Glasgow Apollo. I would have picked RATT instead.

      But what a fantastic list mccrawford and such superb music. My favourites are TESLA without a doubt. I love everything they've done. Great to see WINGER in there and WHITE LION too. I'm not surprised you've picked MOTELY CRUE as No.1. Ultimate Hair Band.

      Cheers for a great Hub

    • omarimik profile image

      omarimik 6 years ago from egypt

      best era ever!!

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Great List! I love the song Coming Home by Cinderella. Bon Jovi was another great 80s band and they are still rockin'!

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      I've always been a huge fan of Cinderella and Tesla. Both were very underrated bands back then. Great hub!

    • mcrawford76 profile image

      Matthew I Crawford 6 years ago from Greeley, Colorado

      Thank you all for taking the time to read my hub. I was a child of the 70's and learned to love (some of) the music of the 80's. The only bands that came out in the 80's that I loved were the hair bands. Still acutally listen to a lot of their music today.

    • elenox profile image

      elenox 6 years ago from Missouri

      Wow, that fire at the Great White show was such a horrible thing. I had forgotten about that.

      On a good note, it is fun to remember these old bands and how important we might have thought some of them were back then.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Enjoyed the blasts from the past! Voted UP!

    • betsuz profile image

      betsuz 6 years ago from California

      I loved Tesla and Cinderella too. Takes me back to the party days. LOL!

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      Very nostalgic! Tesla and Cinderella have always been and still remain two of my favorite bands.

    • Little Kim profile image

      Little Kim 6 years ago from Any town U.S.A.

      Takes me back to a better place and time. Love the bands you chose!

    • Sunshyne1975 profile image

      Sunshyne1975 6 years ago from California, US