The 1980s was a very creative time in the music industry. The ’70s were still going strong, but bands and producers alike began to change their approach to making music. The early ’80s had a disco feel as many artists continued to make hits from previous decades. As this decade progressed, rock became gradually more popular as the top genre of choice for music lovers everywhere. Here are the top rock bands from this amazing decade.
1) Van Halen
Van Halen rose to fame in 1978 with its release of “Van Halen”. Their next album “Van Halen II” came out soon after and both albums reached number one on the charts. Following that, they released “Women and Children First” and “Fair Warning”, both of which peaked in the top five.
The band later came out with a compilation album entitled “Best of Vol 1”. In total, Van Halen released ten albums throughout their time together from 1978 to 1985 before lead singer David Lee Roth left.
Aerosmith started making music in 1970, but they didn’t find mainstream success until the ’80s when they made appearances at Live Aid and Bob Geldof’s Band-Aid. Their hit songs included “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”, “Angel”, and “Rag Doll”. Aerosmith is still active today and has even had a few hits recently such as Jaded and Crazy. They have sold over 150 million albums worldwide.
3) Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi has enjoyed success since the 1980s with four number-one albums and ten top-twenty singles. Their first album was “Slippery When Wet” which featured one of their most popular songs “You Give Love a Bad Name”.
The band’s next album, entitled “New Jersey”, had their second number-one hit single, Living on a Prayer. Bon Jovi is currently still making music today and have recently released their newest album, Burning Bridges.
4) Def Leppard
Def Leppard formed in 1977 and immediately began playing local clubs around England where they were discovered by Richard Cole (Led Zeppelin). Def Leppard released their first album in 1980 and had a top ten single with “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”. Other popular songs from this band include “Photograph” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me”.
5) Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne was the lead singer of Black Sabbath throughout their time together. His solo career started off very successfully with the release of his debut album, “Blizzard of Ozz”, which featured two number-one singles: Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley.
He also released two more successful albums: “Diary of a Madman” and “Tribute”. After eight years apart, Black Sabbath reunited for a new album and world tour.
6) Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses was an American rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California. The band exploded onto the scene with their first album “Appetite for Destruction”. This album included some of Guns N’ Roses’ most popular songs such as “Welcome to the Jungle” and Sweet Child O’ Mine”. After their break up, they reformed in 2000 to release another album entitled “Chinese Democracy”.
7) The Fixx
The Fixx is a British rock band that formed in London, the United Kingdom in 1979. They are best known for their songs: One Thing Leads to Another”, “Red Skies”, and “Stand or Fall”. The group consists of Jamie West-Oram (guitar/vocals), Adam Woods (drums), and Rupert Greenall (keyboards).
Other members have included Cy Curnin, Dave Hewitt, Larry Gott, Tony McGrail, Terry Ad Lyne, Mark Price, and Dan K. Brown. Today the band still tours but has not released new music in over 10 years.
8) The Police
The Police were an English new rock band that formed in 1977. The band’s most notable hits include “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Roxanne”. After the band got tired of separate work schedules, they went on hiatus but reunited for one more album entitled “Synchronicity”. Today, Sting (lead singer) continues to make music with fellow musician wife Trudie Styler.
Journey started out as Golden Gate Rhythm Section in 1973. After signing to Columbia Records in 1976, the members changed their name to Journey. During their time together, they made twelve albums and had four top-ten singles including “Don’t Stop Believin'”. They also played at Live Aid in 1985, but after lead singer Steve Perry left, the band fell apart in 1987. They reunited again in 1996 with a new lead singer under the name “Trial by Fire” before breaking up again.
Heart is an American rock band that formed in Seattle in 1973. They found success with their first top ten hits: “Crazy On You” in 1976 and continued their success throughout the 1980s with hits such as: “What About Love”, “Never”, and “These Dreams”. The band would continue to make music through the years despite line-up changes and health issues taking place within the group.
11) REO Speedwagon
REO Speedwagon is a rock band that formed in 1967. They had their most success with the 1980 album “Hi Infidelity”, which included some of their most popular songs such as Keep on Loving You and Take It on the Run”. After numerous lineup changes over the years, they continue to make music today under the name “REO…Speedwagon”.
12) Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden is a heavy metal and rock band from England that formed in 1975. The band went through many different lead singers before finding Bruce Dickinson. This lineup released two albums entitled: “The Soundhouse Tapes” and “Killers” before becoming a huge success in 1982 after releasing “The Number of the Beast” which featured one of their best-known songs: “Run to the Hills”. Iron Maiden is still making music today and released their latest album, “The Final Frontier”, in 2010.
13) Billy Squier
Billy Squier was an American musician and producer. He began his music career in the 1970s with a progressive rock group called, Piper. His solo career really took off when he released “The Tale of the Tape” album in 1980 that had two number-one hits: In the Dark and The Stroke.
Unfortunately, none of his following albums were as successful as his previous one and he retired from recording after 2002’s “Creatures of Habit”. Despite rumors about his death or retirement, Billy Squier still makes music today releasing singles.
Boston was a rock band that formed in 1970 and had their most success with the songs: More Than a Feeling”, Peace of Mind, and “Foreplay/Long Time.” The band’s success leads them to be one of the best-selling acts in music history.
9 albums, 18 million records sold (with 10 million-plus sales for their self-titled debut album), seven Top 40 singles, and five Grammy nominations. They also opened for two major tours: The Rolling Stones in 1975 and Kiss in 1976. Despite numerous lineup changes over the years, they continue to make music today under the name “Boston”.
Blondie is a new wave band that formed in New York City in 1974. The group originally had more members but they broke up by 1975 leaving just Debbie Harry and Chris Stein.
Ruthless People, their first album after the break-up was released the following year becoming a success with hits like Atomic and Call Me”. Their next few albums would be even bigger successes with songs including Heart of Glass, One Way or Another, Maria”, Hanging on the Telephone”, Rapture” and “Rip Her to Shreds”.
16) Taylor Dayne
Taylor Dayne is an American dance-pop singer. She started her music career singing jingles for commercials before releasing her self-titled debut album in 1987 which spawned seven top ten hits including Tell It to My Heart, Prove Your Love” and “I’ll Always Love You”. She would continue her success in the early 1990s with her albums selling over 16 million records worldwide.
Europe is a Swedish hard rock band that formed in Upplands Väsby in 1979. They found international success with their third album: The Final Countdown”. The album reached number one on various charts and had many successful singles including: “The Final Countdown”, “Rock the Night”, and “Carrie”.
Despite numerous changes taking place within the band over the years, they continue to make music today traveling all over the world performing their most popular songs such as: “The Final Countdown”, “Rock the Night”, and “Carrie”.
18) Enuff Znuff
Enuff Z’nuff is an alternative rock band from Chicago who started playing in 1984 and became known for their song: “Fly High Michelle”. The band was formed by Donnie Vie and Chip Z’Nuff with original members Andy Kozak (drums), Gino Martino (lead guitar), and Derek Frigo (rhythm guitar).
Although they had several line-up changes over the years, the group stayed together recording new music until Martino’s death in 2010. After his death, it was announced that Doug Rappaport would take over as lead guitarist.
19) Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac is an English band that formed in 1967. They are said to have changed the face of British blues with their second album: “The White Album”. Their most successful period came during the 1970s when they had more than 150 million records worldwide and 13 Top 40 songs including: “Rhiannon”, “Don’t Stop” and “Dreams.”
The group would go through several line-up changes over the years and in 1997, there were reports that Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were leaving but they ended up staying with Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine McVie when Nicks decided against it.