Top 10 Hair Metal Classics

Before we sojourn to the orgiastic realm of wailing guitars, spandex and hairspray you might be interested to know that my posts reflecting on my days as a DJ after I quit the music biz generated more noise than anything I have published in this blog. It’s been overwhelming. I received emails from clubs offering me headlining DJ slots to a couple of magazines who want me to write for them (one of them, ironically, is a leading music magazine that published an abysmal review of my band’s EP back in 2003!). This experience has bolstered a very important message, both creatively and on a more personal level, that I must always follow my instinct. It carries more wisdom than anything your head or heart can ever offer. With this in mind, you can move mountains. 

On to the serious business of 80s hair metal. Used interchangeably with glam metal, hair metal is a subgenre of hard rock and heavy metal. It combines elements of both while adding catchy hooks and guitar riffs and borrowing from the aesthetic of glam rock. The genre arose on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip music scene in the early 1980s thanks to bands like WASP and Dokken trying to outdo each other with over-the-top club shows. If rock and roll is a prostitute then glam metal tarts it up a notch. A line of cocaine tracing a ladder to the stars. I’m a massive fan of this genre. Why? Because it’s fearless, funny and it rocks. It makes me happy.

Ahh, before we jump in. Please don’t send me whiny emails asking why I didn’t include Europe, Bon Jovi or [insert hairy rocker of your choice]. Dude, this isn’t a definitive guide. Narrowing it down to ten was hard enough without having a nervous breakdown.

10. White Lion – “Broken Heart”

Who? White Lion, formed in Copenhagen in 1983 by Danish vocalist Mike Tramp and American guitarist Vito Bratta.
Why this song? Because it’s not only beautiful but carries an important message.
Other fond favourites: Hungry, Lonely Nights, Wait.
Important albums: Pride (1987), Big Game (1989).
What else? “There is life even after a broken heart.”

9. Doro – “Unholy Love”

Who? Doro, from Düsseldorf, Germany. Former frontwoman of the heavy metal band Warlock.
Why this song? Because she’s frolicking in fjords. In those clothes.
Other fond favourites: Bad Blood, All I Want, Born to Bleed.
Important albums: Doro (1990), Angels Never Die (1993).
What else? What else do you need?

8. Badlands – “The Last Time”

Who? Badlands, from Los Angeles, California. Founded by former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee and former Black Sabbath members Ray Gillen and Eric Singer.
Why this song? Because it’s one of my favourites and the video is awesome.
Other fond favourites: High Wire, Dancing on the Edge, Dreams in the Dark.
Important albums: Badlands (1989), Voodoo Highway (1991).
What else? Sadly, singer Ray Gillen was one of the first rockers to die of AIDS in 1993.

7. L.A. Guns – “Never Enough”

Who? One-half of Hollywood Rose before they split up into L.A. Guns and Guns N’ Roses.
Why this song? Can you say awesome? Plus the Beatlemania/Ed Sullivan video concept is cool.
Other fond favourites: Magdalaine, Rip and Tear, Over the Edge.
Important albums: L.A. Guns (1988), Cocked & Loaded (1989).
What else? British lead singer Phil Lewis used to be in Girl with Phil Collen before Collen joined Def Leppard.

6. Slaughter – “Fly to the Angels”

Who? Slaughter, from Las Vegas, Nevada. Formed by lead vocalist/guitarist Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum.
Why this song? Mark Slaughter’s incredible multi-octave falsetto sells this haunting ode to a lost love.
Other fond favourites: Eye To Eye, Reach For the Sky, Live Like There’s No Tomorrow.
Important albums: Stick It To Ya (1990), The Wild Life (1992).
What else? Before forming Slaughter, Slaughter and Strum used to play in the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. I absolutely love them but could not find any decent videos on youtube. Had I been able to they would have made my list. Check them out, especially their first album Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986).

5. Warrant – “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

Who? Warrant, from Los Angeles, California. Warrant were the first glam metal band I got into. I heard this song and it was instant love. Then I saw the video and had nightmares for weeks.
Why this song? Because it’s incredible. Set on the bayous of Louisiana, it tells the story of a witness to a murder.
Other fond favourites: Cherry Pie, I Saw Red, 32 Pennies.
Important albums: Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (1989), Cherry Pie (1990).
What else? “Who put the bodies in the wishing well?”

4. Cinderella – “Shake Me”

Who? Cinderella, the Stones-influenced Philly boys who emerged in the mid-80s with several multi-platinum albums and shifted towards a heavier/blusier sound in the 90s.
Why this song? The lead single from Cinderella’s debut is a stomping rocker with one of the funniest videos I have ever seen, illustrating once again the wonderful humour and sense of fun that is typical of this genre.
Other fond favourites: Fire and Ice, If You Don’t Like It, Gypsy Road.
Important albums: Night Songs (1986), Long Cold Winter (1988).
What else? Awesome band that’s worth checking out even if you’re not a fan of the genre.

3. Skid Row – “18 and Life”

Who? Skid Row, from New Jersey. Sebastian Bach is an absolute powerhouse.
Why? Because it moves me. I too was a juvenile delinquent. Nothing serious but I had my teenage run-ins with the law. Luckily I also had the support to mitigate my angst before causing any permanent damage. Not everyone is that lucky.
Other fond favourites: Big Guns, Monkey Business, Riot Act.
Important albums: Skid Row (1989), Slave to the Grind (1991).
What else? The hair, man.

2. Mötley Crüe – “Kickstart My Heart”

Who? Mötley Crüe, from Los Angeles, California. The filthiest rockers in rockdom.
Why this song? A nod and a wink to Nikki’s near death experience in 1987 (smack, what else) and it totally rocks. Also, the limo scene where Vince Neil looks into the camera and says “this is where it all began” cracks me up.
Other fond favourites: Dr. Feelgood, Wild Side, Rattlesnake Shake.
Important albums: Girls, Girls, Girls (1987), Dr. Feelgood (1989).
What else? “When we started this band all we needed was a laugh, years gone by, I’d say we’ve kicked some ass!”

1. Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar On Me”

Who? Def Leppard, from Sheffield, England. The ultimate trendsetters, it should be no surprise that Leppard are #1. While often associated with glam metal their music transcended both the look and the vibe. Lep could sneer and sleaze with the best of them and then dazzle with their mastery of songwriting and musicianship.
Why this song? Because it demonstrates their joyous lust for life. Plus Sav’s jiggle at the beginning makes my day.
Other fond favourites: Gods of War, Armageddon It, Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion).
Important albums: Pyromania (1984), Hysteria (1987).
What else? The greatest band in the world. Buy ‘Hysteria’ and find out why.

These videos are copyrighted material. I do not claim ownership to these songs or videos. All rights reserved by copyright holders. I’m just a rock chick spreading the love.




  1. Eme

    You know, thinking back on my music tastes over the years, I would have never given this music the time of day. My tastes are growing and changing all the time. It’s pretty amazing to me. I’m liking things that I thought I never would. I’m exploring new avenues of music and it just makes me love and appreciate music that much more. Just going through his list here, it’s like I’m discovering a whole other world! I love it! I already knew the likes of ‘Pour Some Sugar’, ’18 and Life’ and of course ‘Kickstart My Heart’ but the others were foreign to me and I enjoyed the living hell out of it all. Thank you for being my guide to such awesome music! Mwwah! ❤

    • D’arcy

      I completely sympathise with that. I wasn’t kidding when I said I used to hate Motley Crue and believe it or not… I also used to dislike Lep and GNR! 😀 But not because I actually listened to their music and didn’t like it, I was prejudiced because of the look and the vibe. Much like you I’m a trad rock chick and bridging the gap from Maiden to Crue wasn’t the obvious move. I’m so happy I did though because these bands give me so much pleasure and in all honesty it’s the music I enjoy most these days and have for a few years now. The best of the bunch (Lep, Skid Row and Cinderella for instance) transcend the genre into hard rock so there’s that natural old school connection. Lep started off as part of the NWOBHM and if you listen to their earlier albums (High N Dry in particular) you begin to understand what a rich musical legacy they have. I’m so glad you enjoyed some of these! ❤

  2. ‘I grew up with the pictures of these guys on my walls.’ Oddly I know of most of these bands but virtually none of their music – except Def Leppard’s Pyromania which is a great record. We got given tickets to GnR (really only Axl and some kids) and Sebastian Bach was one of the supports. I felt for him as even though he was working hard he just couldn’t win the audience. That guy can swear. Axl was a prat and no fun so we didn’t stick it.

    Thanks, cool ground to cover.

    • D’arcy

      Cheers man! I’m surprised by what you say about Bach; he has such a compelling and charismatic presence; at least in videos! I’ve never seen him live. Pyromania is indeed a treasure. Try Hysteria, it’s BRILLIANT.

  3. Vippy

    I find it hard to relate to 80s glam metal for… aesthetic reasons, shall we say, but I enjoyed reading about it nevertheless and thanks to the vivacious and enthusiastic way you write about it you’ve expanded my horizons a bit more (yet again!).

    Welcome back! 🙂

    • D’arcy

      ‘Aesthetic reasons’ hahahaha! Oh darling that made me laugh and I totally understand where you’re coming from. That’s cool, and I’m glad I managed to expand your horizons in the ways of wayward rock ‘n’ roll!

  4. Hmm, you most certainly have an affinity toward American rock Atreyu. I am imagining a couple of live concerts with you, Victoria (vixviews) and myself. When I imagine the entire evening, why do I feel the need to set aside at least 2 days of recovery…mainly for ribs from abusive laughter? And your choice for #1 is excellent! No arguments here.

  5. Redcollarsandcoughs

    Reading this blog was akin to opening a treasure chest of pure rock joy (and I make no apologies for gorging myself till the point of frenzied climax). All hail the mighty D’arcy, the sugary breasted Queen of Rock!

  6. Astor E Teller

    Being in the Library and without a pair of earphones, I reluctantly cannot watch the vids. However, must also confess to not hearing of the majority of these bands except for the top two. But so pleased to see a great UK band as your number one amongst all those from the US. Yup! Our small little Island can rock as loud as the rest!

  7. T-Bone

    Hells to the yeah! I agree with 7 out of 10 and that’s sweet. Loved to see Slaughter and Cinderella here as well as the more obvious choices. Whoa, Badlands, haven’t thought about them in years and it was great to reminisce. Really enjoyed this and I’m now a subscriber to your blog. Lookin forward to reading more.

    • D’arcy

      Thanks T-Bone! I don’t know how anyone can write seriously about 80s rock without including Slaughter and Cinderella. PUH-LEASE! You’re not Tommy Lee by any chance are you? 😉 Hahahaha!

  8. I have only heard of three of those bands (the top three) and what I know about the genre, you could write on a grain of rice. But I don’t care, YOU’RE BACK!

    No surprise that you were asked to write for music mags, no surprise at all.
    They don’t deserve you though, and probably wouldn’t get it.

    I don’t know how to type with a Cheshire Cat grin, but if I did, I would be.
    As always, Pete. X

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