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10 Bands that Changed the Face of Rock Music in the 80s


The 10 most influential heavy rock bands of the 80s. 

The years between 1980 and 1990 proved to be an ever changing period for rock music, with the emergence of 'glam rock' and gritty rock and roll.  Here, we take a look at some of the most influential rock bands to grace the stage in the 80s.

We should state that notable absentees from this list, like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, created a far stronger influence on rock music in the 70s.  However, if you think we've left any band off this list, please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

10  Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi is an American rock band from Sayreville, New Jersey. Formed in 1983, Bon Jovi consists of lead singer and namesake Jon Bon Jovi, pianist and keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, lead guitarist Phil X, and bassist Hugh McDonald.  Bon Jovi peaked in the 80s with their smash hit album, Slippery When Wet, with icon songs such as Livin' On A Prayer, Your Give Love A Bad Name, and Wanted Dead or Alive.

09  Metallica

Metallica were the first true thrash metal band to make it in the 80s, setting the tone for future metal bands. However, no band did it like Metallica did, and even to this day, James Hetfield and co are selling out stadiums, further cementing their legacy as the greatest heavy metal band that ever was.

08  Van Halen

Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. From 1974 until 1985, the band consisted of guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony. Van Halen experienced the peak of their years in the mid eighties, but like many glam bands, slid into the unknown at the turn of the decade. 

07  Mötley Crüe

Mötley Crüe was an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1981. The group was founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, lead singer Vince Neil and lead guitarist Mick Mars.  Mötley Crüe were the first real 'bad boys' of rock, paving the way for a trend of up and coming bands later in that decade.

06  U2

Perhaps one of the greatest bands of all time, U2 remain a strong musical pull even in today's versatile industry. If you want to watch an exceptional live performance, then make sure U2 is on your list of bands to see before you die.  This band has one of the most iconic sounds in rock music, making them easy to identify and truly unique. 

05  Aerosmith

Steven Tyler and co burst onto the scene in the 70s, but enjoyed much of their success in the 80s. Aerosmith broke away from the camp, glam 80s rock scene and stayed true to their gritty rock and roll roots.  Aerosmith inspired some amazing rock bands that would emerge later that decade, such as Guns N' Roses.

04  Iron Maiden

The boys from East London knew what they wanted to be, and to be fair to them, have not changed one bit. Heavy metal band, Iron Maiden, showed the rock world how to pack a stadium with over 100,000 fans. Hit after hit, Maiden peaked in the 80s with their only number one hit - Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter - which was an incredible achievement for a heavy metal band.

03  Queen

Some would say Queen peaked in the 70s, with a continued legacy in the 80s, but when we think of Freddie and Brian, we think of a packed out Wembley stadium, smashing out the hits one after the other.  It really doesn't matter what decade you put Queen in - they will always be regarded as one of the true greats all of time, that's for sure.

02  Def Leppard

Def Leppard are an English rock band formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement. Since 1992, the band has consisted of Joe Elliott, Rick Savage, Rick Allen, Phil Collen, and Vivian Campbell.  Their album Hysteria, is widely regarded as one of the best rock albums of all time.  Def Leppard were the first band to master the mixture of hard rock and synths.

01  Guns N' Roses

Guns N' Roses, often abbreviated as GNR or Guns, is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles formed in 1985. GNR achieved massive after the release of their album Appetite For Destruction - regarded by most as the best heavy rock album of all time.  GNR changed the face of rock music in the 80s, making it cool, gritty and dangerous, and by 1991, Guns were the biggest band on the planet.

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