Heavy Metal: The 1980s (Part 1)

While heavy metal music was popular in the 1970s, with bands like Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Kiss, it was the 1980s that saw the genre reach its apex. It was during this time that glam-metal was born. Glam-metal acts were characterized by wild hairdos and outfits that bordered on cross-gendered. Their musical style featured anthems, shred solos, and lyrics about sex and drugs. Some bands that emerged during this period include well-known groups such as Judas Priest and Motley Crue.

Judas Priest

Although Judas Priest was formed in the late 1960s, it was not until the 80s that they saw mainstream success. Beginning with “British Steel” in 1980, the group released a string of highly successful albums that were huge hits with fans of the newly emerging culture. These included “Point of Entry” in 1981, “Screaming for Vengeance” in 1982, “Freewheeel Burning” in 1983, and “Defenders of Faith” in 1984. All of these albums were received well by fans, and stayed true to the foundations of the genre. It was in 1986 that Judas Priest adopted a much more glam-metal appearance and released more heavily synthesized music in the form of “Turbo” in 1986. Two years later, they attempted to return to their roots by stripping their next album of the synthesizers. This 1988 album, “Ram it Down,” marked the end of the mega success this band enjoyed in the mid-80s.

Motley Crue

Perhaps no one embodied the glam-metal spirit quite like Motley Crue. Formed in 1981, this group is most known for their outrageous antics, both on and off stage, as well as their over the top makeup and outfits. They were also known for their almost endless abuse of alcohol and drugs. During their peak in the 80s, the group produced several hit albums, including “Shout at the Devil” in 1983, “Theater of Pain” in 1985, and “Girls, Girls, Girls” in 1987. 1989 brought the band’s most famous album, “Dr. Feelgood.” This album, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, marked the pinnacle of their success and was inspired by various troubles that the members were dealing with at the time. The most notable of these was heroin overdose by Nikki Sixx, the band’s bassist and song-writer. This incident left Sixx clinically dead for almost two minutes, and was an experience that ultimately led him to pursue rehab. After this wildly successful album, Motley Crue saw a drop in popularity that also coincided with a decline in the popularity of the genre. They are still performing today.

The emergence of glam-metal during the 1980s brought about an entirely new culture. This was one fueled by sex, drugs, and wild behavior. The crazy antics that groups like Motley Crue undertook epitomized the rebellious culture that was developing during this time period, as did the wild outfits and over the top makeup. The popularity of these groups was, in part, due to their appeal to the rebellious side of teens and young adults of the time.

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