The 15 Best Hair Metal Bands of All Time

Motley Crue
Motley Crue
Photo by Hannah Verbeuren for L.A. Weekly

Before grunge scrubbed the smeared makeup off of the face of hair metal and trimmed its flowing locks, an endless parade of longhaired dudes did their level best to destroy the ozone layer, fueled by a steady diet of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Oh, and, well, depending on the band, more sex and lots more drugs. Lots more. During the Reagan era, glam metal reigned supreme with these bands ferociously whipping their hair. Keep reading for a rundown of the fifteen best glam metal bands of all time.

15. Warrant

Although this act summoned an an ocean of lighters to illuminate arenas everywhere with ballads like "Heaven" and "Sometimes She Cries," Warrant's late frontman Jani Lane still wrote songs like "Uncle Tom's Cabin" that were more serious than your average glam tune. And it would be remiss not to mention the strip club staple "Cherry Pie," even though it is a song much loathed by the band as a last minute recording on the album to snag a hit single.

14. Poison

With songs like "Unskinny Bop," Poison's songwriting wasn't always in front of the makeup and hairspray, but the band nonetheless earned fame well beyond the Sunset Strip with a simplistic, sexed up pop metal sound. Bret Michaels was one of those frontmen with a vocal range that turned your ears inside out but he still chalked up huge radio and MTV hits like "Nothin' But A Good Time," "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

13. Cinderella

Cinderella's glam metal fairytale got its start in Philly a world away from the Sunset Strip. Breaking through the thousand-strong army of already waging hair metal bands with Night Songs in 1986, Cinderella squashed its predecessors with edgier banshee vocals and powerful harmonies that led to a succession of hit singles. Despite its terrifyingly hackneyed hair band appearance, Cinderella was a step above other bands from that era musically.

12. Twisted Sister

Twisted Sister had a loud, large and rebellious sound symbolized by Dee Snider's massive curly blonde locks and his teeth biting sneer, making Twisted Sister seem wilder than the other pretty boy glam metal metal bands. Twister Sister can also stake claim to the fact that it created two of the loudest and most sacred hair metal anthems of the '80s that kids shook their fists to in "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock."

11. L.A. Guns

Tracii Guns took over for Chris Weber on lead guitar in a band called Hollywood Rose with Axl Rose. The act suitably changed its name to Guns N' Roses, and it didn't take long for Guns to retreat back to L.A. Guns. That group broke through when it released its self-titled debut in 1988, and especially with its follow-up, Cocked & Loaded, containing "The Ballad of Jayne," which locked in a flock of hardcore fans.

10. Quiet Riot

Quiet Riot was one of the original forces in this genre with two mega hits, "Cum on Feel the Noize" and "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)." Even though Randy Rhoads was the original guitarist before leaving to work with Ozzy in 1979, Quiet Riot still gained the bragging rights of the first U.S. debut metal album, Metal Health, to reach numero uno on the charts in 1983.

9. Dokken

Dokken made a name for itself with its vibrato-laden, high-note reaching, namesake frontman Don Dokken, whose voice could soar high with the best killer pipe wailers in glam. Partnered with George Lynch, arguably one of the top axemen of the era with impressive sharp, clean solos, Dokken is one of the more underrated hair metal bands.

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8. Bon Jovi

Despite its tepid sound and the fact that it embraced every rock cliche in the book, Bon Jovi earned a massive following and churned out a seemingly never ending string of hits starting with "Runaway" in 1984. These stadium rockers are lucky they haven't gone blind with all the girls that have flashed their boobs over the years. Global superstardom came after the release of Slippery When Wet in 1986. Even though Jon Bon Jovi is as big of a douchebag as Bono, he had one of the better set of pipes during the hair band era.


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