Heavy Metal: The 1980s (Part 2)

The 1980s was a decade that saw the rise of many extremely successful heavy metal groups. Having shifted focus from the traditional sounds and performances of the genre, glam or hair-metal had begun to take over the music world during this time period. Acts such as Poison and Iron Maiden became hugely successful.


Poison was formed in Pennsylvania in 1983. Like many of the groups during the 70s and 80s, Poison spent the early part of their career playing in various local clubs. Deciding to move to Los Angeles in 1984 with the hopes of making it big, the band struggled early on. Finally signing with a record label, they released their debut album, “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” in 1986. This debut album produced several hits, including “Talk Dirty to Me.” In 1988 the band released their most successful album, “Open Up and Say…Ah,” which spawned the number one single, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” The group, although successful, faced many legal challenges early in their career. They were sued for a breach of contract by their old record label, and also by a Geffen Record employee for dumping drinks on her. The band’s frontrunner, Brett Michaels, suffered even further legal action due to his frequent fighting. These suits spanned multiple cities, including Los Angeles, Tallahassee, and Atlanta. Despite these legal troubles, Poison saw continued success into the 1990s.

Iron Maiden

The band Iron Maiden came into existence on Christmas in 1975. It was not, however, until they released their second album, “The Number of the Beast,” in 1982 that the group saw commercial success. This record charted number one in the UK and achieved success in other countries as well. Following this huge success, they released three albums in three years. These were “Piece of Mind” in 1983, “Powerslave” in 1984, and a live album in 1985 entitled “Live After Death.” Each of these albums was widely successful in the UK, with “Piece of Mind” becoming popular in the United States as well. During this period, the band embarked on an absolutely grueling world tour that included 193 shows in 28 countries. Following this tour, they took four months off to recuperate from the immense stress that it placed on them. Their next two albums, “Somewhere in Time” in 1986 and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” in 1988 were very different from previous releases. “Somewhere in Time” featured guitar synthesizers for the first time in the group’s history, and was a popular record worldwide. Continuing with their musical experimentation, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” included keyboard sounds in place of the synthesizers introduced in the previous album. This would be the second album to reach number one on the UK charts. Iron Maiden took another break in 1989, and would continue this cycle of touring and breaking into the mid-1990s.

The 1980s was a very hectic decade inspired by a rebellious attitude. The music of the era epitomizes this attitude. Glam-metal bands like Poison dressed like girls and wore makeup. Iron Maiden featured music that many labeled as demonic and satanic. The culture of sex and drugs was extremely prevalent, causing problems for many groups. Despite these issues, it was a brilliant musical era.

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