The 80s was a decade of bold fashion choices with hair bands at the forefront of the music scene.
With their big hair, flashy costumes, and guitar solos, hair bands captured the hearts of millions of fans worldwide.
The 80s saw the emergence of some of the greatest hair bands of all time, including Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, and Poison, to name just a few.
These bands left an indelible mark on the music industry, and their music continues to be celebrated and enjoyed by fans today.
In this article, we’ll look at 30 of the best 80s hair bands, exploring their music, style, and impact on popular culture.
1. Mötley Crüe
Mötley Crüe is a heavy-hair metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1981.
The band comprises Vince Neil on vocals, Mick Mars on guitar, Nikki Sixx on bass, and Tommy Lee on drums.
They are known for their high-energy performances, catchy hooks, and wild stage antics.
Throughout their career, Mötley Crüe has released several successful albums, including Shout at the Devil, Girls, Girls, Girls, and Dr. Feelgood.
The band has also had several hit singles, such as “Home Sweet Home,” “Kickstart My Heart,” and “Dr. Feelgood.”
2. Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi is a rock band formed in Sayreville, New Jersey, in 1983.
The band consists of lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora (who left the band in 2013), keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, and bassist Hugh McDonald (who joined the band in 2016, replacing original bassist Alec John Such).
Bon Jovi’s music is a mix of hard rock, pop, and arena rock, and their catchy melodies and anthemic choruses have helped make them one of the most successful hair bands of all time.
Some of their most popular songs include “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “It’s My Life.”
See also: Best Bon Jovi Songs
Ratt is known for its signature sound, blending hard rock and heavy metal elements with catchy hooks and melodic choruses.
The band’s most well-known lineup consisted of Stephen Pearcy on vocals, Warren DeMartini on lead guitar, Robbin Crosby on rhythm guitar, Juan Croucier on bass, and Bobby Blotzer on drums.
The band gained popularity in the 1980s with hits like “Round and Round,” “Lay It Down,” and “Wanted Man.”
Ratt has released several albums, most recently being Infestation in 2010.
4. Van Halen
Van Halen is widely regarded as one of the most successful and influential acts in the history of rock music.
The American rock hair band was formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972.
Van Halen’s original lineup consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar, David Lee Roth on vocals, Michael Anthony on bass, and Eddie’s brother Alex Van Halen on drums.
Van Halen’s early music blended hard rock, heavy metal, and funk elements, and the band quickly gained a following in the Los Angeles music scene.
Their self-titled debut album, released in 1978, was a commercial and critical success, featuring the hits “Runnin’ with the Devil” and “Eruption.”
Van Halen released several successful albums throughout the 1980s, including 1984, 5150, and OU812.
5. Quiet Riot
Quiet Riot is an American heavy metal band formed in 1973 in Los Angeles, California.
The band’s original lineup consisted of Kevin DuBrow (vocals), Randy Rhoads (guitar), Kelly Garni (bass), and Drew Forsyth (drums).
Quiet Riot gained popularity in the 1980s with their album Metal Health, released in 1983 and featured the hit song “Cum On Feel the Noize.”
The album became a commercial success and sold over six million copies worldwide.
6. Mr. Big
Mr. Big is an American rock band formed in 1988.
The band is composed of Eric Martin (lead vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitar), Billy Sheehan (bass guitar), and Pat Torpey (drums).
They are best known for their “To Be with You” and “Wild World” hit songs.
Mr. Big’s music style blends hard rock, pop, and heavy metal.
The band has released nine studio albums, with their most recent album, Defying Gravity, released in 2017.
7. The Cult
The Cult is a British rock band formed in 1983 and achieved mainstream success in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Their lead singer, Ian Astbury, often sported long hair and wore leather clothing and jewelry, which were typical fashion choices for hair bands of the era.
Additionally, The Cult’s music often featured heavy guitar riffs and anthemic choruses, hallmarks of the 80s hair band sound.
Their hits include “She Sells Sanctuary,” “Love Removal Machine,” and “Fire Woman.”
Vixen is one of the standout hair bands in this list because all the band’s members were women.
The all-female hard rock band was formed in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the 1980s.
The original lineup consisted of Janet Gardner on vocals and guitar, Jan Kuehnemund on lead guitar, Share Ross on bass, and Roxy Petrucci on drums.
The band gained popularity in the late 80s and early 90s with hits such as “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin’.”
Their music featured a blend of hard rock, glam rock, and pop rock, and their catchy hooks and melodic choruses made them famous on rock radio and MTV.
9. Bang Tango
The American hard rock band was formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1987.
The band’s founding members were Joe Lesté (vocals), Kyle Kyle (bass guitar), Mark Knight (guitar), Kyle Stevens (guitar), and Tigg Ketler (drums).
Bang Tango released their debut album, Psycho Cafe, in 1989, which included the hit singles “Someone Like You” and “Breaking Up a Heart of Stone.”
The album’s unique blend of hard rock, funk, and glam metal helped set Bang Tango apart from its contemporaries.
BulletBoys’ music was a fusion of hard rock, glam metal, and funk, and they became known for their high-energy live performances.
The American hair rock band was formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1986.
The band’s original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Marq Torien, guitarist Mick Sweda, bassist Lonnie Vencent, and drummer Jimmy D’Anda.
They released their self-titled debut album in 1988, which included the hit singles “Smooth Up in Ya” and “For the Love of Money.”
Poison is an American rock band formed in 1983 in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
The band’s original lineup consisted of Bret Michaels (lead vocals), C.C. DeVille (guitar), Bobby Dall (bass), and Rikki Rockett (drums).
Poison is known for its glam metal style, popularized in the 1980s.
They achieved commercial success with their albums Open Up and Say… Ahh! (1988) and Flesh & Blood (1990), which featured hit singles such as “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” and “Unskinny Bop.”
See also: Best Poison Songs
Dokken’s music is characterized by its melodic, guitar-driven sound and soaring vocals.
The American heavy metal band was formed in 1978 in Los Angeles, California.
The band’s original lineup consisted of vocalist Don Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, bassist Juan Croucier, and drummer Mick Brown.
They were one of the most popular and successful bands of the 1980s hair metal scene, known for hits such as “Breaking the Chains,” “Alone Again,” and “In My Dreams.”
The band released several successful albums throughout the decade, including Tooth and Nail, Under Lock and Key, and Back for the Attack.
Stryper is an American Christian metal hair band formed in Orange County, California, in 1983.
The band’s name is an acronym for “Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement, and Righteousness.”
Stryper’s music is characterized by its blend of heavy metal and Christian lyrics.
The band gained popularity in the 1980s with hits such as “Honestly,” “Calling on You,” and “To Hell with the Devil.”
They released several successful albums throughout the decade, including Soldiers Under Command, To Hell with the Devil, and In God We Trust.
Cinderella is an American rock band that was formed in 1982.
The hair band’s original lineup consisted of Tom Keifer (lead vocals, guitar), Eric Brittingham (bass guitar), Michael Smerick (guitar), and Tony Destra (drums).
However, Tony Destra was tragically killed in a car accident in 1987 and was replaced by Fred Coury.
Cinderella’s music style is often described as a blend of hard rock, blues, and heavy metal.
The band is perhaps best known for their hit singles “Nobody’s Fool,” “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone),” and “Gypsy Road,” which were all released in the late 1980s.
Warrant achieved mainstream success in the late 1980s and early 1990s with their hit singles “Heaven,” “Cherry Pie,” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Their music style is often described as a blend of hard rock, glam, and hair metal.
The band was formed in 1984 in Hollywood, California.
The band’s original lineup consisted of Jani Lane (lead vocals), Erik Turner and Joey Allen (guitars), Jerry Dixon (bass), and Steven Sweet (drums).
Jani Lane left the band in 1993 and was replaced by several other lead vocalists.
The band continued releasing new music and tours throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
In 2008, the original lineup of Warrant reunited for a tour, but Jani Lane tragically passed away in 2011.
Whitesnake is a British hair rock band formed in 1978 by David Coverdale, previously the lead vocalist for Deep Purple.
The band’s early music was heavily influenced by blues rock, but they later became known for their commercial hard rock sound.
Whitesnake’s most successful period was in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they released a string of hit albums such as Whitesnake, Slip of the Tongue, and Restless Heart.
The band’s biggest hits during this time included “Here I Go Again,” “Is This Love,” and “Still of the Night.”
17. Def Leppard
Def Leppard is a British hair rock band that was formed in 1977.
The band’s music blends hard rock and heavy metal, focusing on catchy hooks and melodic choruses.
Def Leppard’s most significant commercial success came in the 1980s when they released a string of hit albums such as Pyromania and Hysteria.
Some of the band’s most popular songs include “Photograph,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” and “Love Bites.”
Def Leppard’s success was partly due to their innovative use of music videos, which helped them reach a wider audience and became a hallmark of the MTV era.
Despite several setbacks over the years, including the loss of drummer Rick Allen’s arm in a car accident, Def Leppard has continued to tour and record new music.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 and remain one of the most popular and influential rock bands ever.
18. Twisted Sister
Twisted Sister gained popularity in the 1980s, partly thanks to their outrageous costumes and over-the-top live shows.
Twisted Sister’s music is characterized by its heavy riffs, catchy choruses, and frontman Dee Snider’s distinctive vocals.
The band’s biggest hit was “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which became an anthem of rebellion for many young people.
Other popular songs include “I Wanna Rock,” “The Price,” and “Stay Hungry.”
Twisted Sister’s music and image helped define the hair metal era of the 1980s, and they were one of the most successful bands of that time.
After disbanding in the late 1980s, Twisted Sister reunited in the 2000s and continued to tour and record new music.
19. Faster Pussycat
Faster Pussycat is another Los Angeles-based hard rock hair band formed in 1985.
The band’s music combines sleaze rock, glam metal, and punk rock influences.
The band’s debut album was released in 1987, featuring the hit single “Bathroom Wall.”
Faster Pussycat released several more albums, including Wake Me When It’s Over and Whipped!
Despite multiple lineup changes and inactivity in the 2000s, Faster Pussycat has continued to tour and record new music.
Some of their most popular songs include “House of Pain,” “Don’t Change That Song,” and “Poison Ivy.”
20. Skid Row
Skid Row released their debut album in 1989, including the hit singles “18 and Life” and “I Remember You.”
The album was a commercial success, reaching number 6 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling over 5 million copies in the United States alone.
The hair rock band formed in Toms River, New Jersey, in 1986 consists of members Sebastian Bach (vocals), Dave “The Snake” Sabo (guitar), Rachel Bolan (bass), Scotti Hill (guitar), and Rob Affuso (drums).
They are known for their hard rock sound and energetic live performances.
The band released several more albums, including Slave to the Grind (1991) and Subhuman Race (1995).
21. L.A. Guns
L.A. Guns is an American hard rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1983.
The band was founded by guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Rob Gardner and has undergone numerous lineup changes.
The band’s classic lineup, which achieved commercial success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, consisted of Phil Lewis on vocals, Tracii Guns on guitar, Mick Cripps on guitar, Kelly Nickels on bass, and Steve Riley on drums.
They are best known for their hit songs “The Ballad of Jayne,” “Never Enough,” and “Rip and Tear.”
22. Hollywood Rose
Hollywood Rose was a short-lived rock hair band formed in Los Angeles in 1983.
The band consisted of Axl Rose on vocals, Izzy Stradlin on guitar, Chris Weber on guitar, Johnny Kreis on drums, and Rick Mars on bass.
The band’s sound was heavily influenced by bands such as Aerosmith, AC/DC, and The Rolling Stones.
Hollywood Rose only released a few recordings during their brief existence, including a demo tape titled “The Roots of Guns N’ Roses,” recorded in 1984.
After the band broke up, Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin formed Guns N’ Roses with other musicians, and the rest is history.
23. Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses is a highly influential hard rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1985.
The band’s original lineup consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler.
Their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was released in 1987 and became a massive commercial success, selling over 30 million copies worldwide.
The album featured hit songs such as “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and “Paradise City.”
W.A.S.P. is a heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1982.
The band was founded by lead singer and guitarist Blackie Lawless, previously a member of the New York Dolls and a songwriter for Kiss.
The band’s name is an acronym for “We Are Sexual Perverts,” but Lawless has stated that it also stands for “We Are Satan’s People” and “We Are Same People.”
W.A.S.P.’s music is characterized by its heavy use of guitar riffs, theatrical stage shows, and controversial lyrics that often deal with topics such as sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
The band’s early albums, including their self-titled debut album and The Last Command, were particularly successful in the 1980s heavy metal scene.
Some of their most well-known songs include “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast),” “I Wanna Be Somebody,” and “Wild Child.”
KISS was one of the most iconic hair bands of the 1980s, known for their unique look and high-energy live performances.
KISS was formed in New York City in 1973 and quickly gained a reputation for its theatrical stage shows and over-the-top costumes, which included black-and-white face paint, platform boots, and elaborate costumes with plenty of leather, studs, and spikes.
The band’s early music blended hard rock and heavy metal with a theatrical, almost campy sensibility, and their live shows were always a spectacle.
In the 1980s, KISS continued to evolve its sound, incorporating more pop and synth elements into its music.
They scored several hits during this time, including “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” “Heaven’s on Fire,” and “Tears Are Falling.”
See also: Best KISS Songs
26. Hanoi Rocks
Hanoi Rocks was a Finnish rock band that formed in Helsinki in 1979.
The band is known for its glam rock and punk influences and was one of the top hair bands in the “Hanoi Rocks movement” in the 1980s.
The band’s lineup consisted of Michael Monroe on vocals and saxophone, Andy McCoy on guitar, Nasty Suicide on guitar, Sami Yaffa on bass, and Razzle on drums.
Hanoi Rocks released several albums throughout the 1980s, including Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks (1981), Back to Mystery City (1983), and Two Steps from the Move (1984).
Tragically, in 1984, Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Razzle was killed in a car accident while riding with Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil, who was driving under the influence.
The band disbanded in 1985 but has since reunited for several short-lived periods, including a 2002-2009 reunion with the surviving members.
27. Night Ranger
Night Ranger’s music is a blend of hard rock, melodic rock, and power ballads, and their soaring harmonies and guitar solos characterize their sound.
The American rock band was formed in San Francisco, California, in 1979.
The band’s original lineup consisted of Jack Blades (bass, vocals), Brad Gillis (guitar), Jeff Watson (guitar), Alan Fitzgerald (keyboards), and Kelly Keagy (drums, vocals).
The band’s most well-known hits include “Sister Christian,” “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” and “Sentimental Street.”
Night Ranger has released over a dozen studio albums, their most recent being A.T.B.P.O. (And The Band Played On), released in 2021.
28. Great White
Great White was one of the best hair bands of the 80s, known for their bluesy hard rock sound and energetic live performances.
The band was formed in Los Angeles in 1977 and rose to fame in the mid-80s with hits such as “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Rock Me,” and “Save Your Love.”
The band’s raw, powerful vocals, guitar riffs, catchy melodies, and anthemic choruses made them popular with fans of rock and metal alike.
In addition to their musical talents, Great White was also known for their dynamic live shows, which often included pyrotechnics, light shows, and other theatrical elements.
The band’s high-energy performances, with their catchy songs and hard-edged sound, helped them become one of the most successful hair bands of the 80s.
Europe is a Swedish rock band formed in 1979 in Upplands Väsby, Stockholm.
The band’s original lineup consisted of vocalist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, bassist Peter Olsson, and drummer Tony Reno.
They are best known for their hit song “The Final Countdown,” which was released in 1986 and reached number one in 25 countries.
The band has released 11 studio albums, with their most recent album, Walk the Earth, released in 2017.
Winger is known for blending hard rock and heavy metal, emphasizing melody and harmonies.
The band was formed in New York City in 1987, consisting of vocalist and guitarist Kip Winger, guitarist Reb Beach, drummer Rod Morgenstein, and bassist John Roth.
Winger’s debut album was released in 1988, including the hit songs “Seventeen” and “Headed for a Heartbreak.”
The album was certified platinum in the United States and helped to establish the band as a significant force in the rock music scene of the late 1980s.
Best 80s Hair Bands – Final Thoughts
The 80s was a decade defined by its music and fashion, and hair bands were a significant part of that era.
From the long hair to the spandex pants, the hair bands of the 80s left an indelible mark on the music industry and pop culture.
The music produced by these bands was energetic, and their live performances were full of theatrics, which captivated audiences worldwide.
The list of the 30 best hair bands of the 80s is a testament to the impact that these bands had on the music scene.
Each band on the list had its unique sound and style, but they all shared a common bond of delivering high-energy music that spoke to the hearts and souls of their fans.
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