The problem with writing about 80’s music is those who remember it, care about it and those who don’t remember it or did not grow up in it, don’t care about it.
From the 60’s, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones survived.
From the 70’s The Eagles have survived. Black Sabbath had a golden run with the reunion of the Dio line up in the 2000’s and then with the Ozzy led line up (except Bill Ward got duped out of playing because he was told by them he was unfit. Maybe they should have got an expert opinion). Deep Purple are still creating however depending on who you ask, it’s hit and miss, while their live shows are doing okay numbers, but paling in comparison to Sabbath. Kiss are still a draw on the live circuit while Gene and Paul whinge about album sales being anaemic, so in the last 12 years, we got two albums with two good songs. Rush are retired and the Scorpions maybe should retire as well. Meanwhile Queen are still touring with Adam Lambert.
From the 80’s Metallica dominate everything. Megadeth want to dominate everything. Van Halen are somewhere, doing nothing. Motley Crue are retired and so is Twisted Sister. AC/DC will retire. Skid Row refuse to get back together even though all living members are alive. Bon Jovi still rakes it in on the live circuit, but are creatively bankrupt. Guns’N’Roses will never write another hit again, but will rake it in on the live circuit.
Def Leppard are doing big business on the live scene and now with their music on digital services, expect their tunes to pop up everywhere. Europe took control of their career and their copyrights and are laughing all the way to the bank. Night Ranger exists but no one knows it. Journey gave an unknown a dream gig and toured everywhere because their songs are everywhere and they are timeless. Cinderella had the charts sown up and no one knows their songs these days. Kingdom Come plagiarised everyone, made the record label millions, while they got squat and then got dropped. David Lee Roth, was once the poster boy, in every magazine and now he’s an old man with a tattoo of Elvis on his elbow that talks when his elbow moves.
Whitesnake and Judas Priest are experiencing a renaissance creatively and on tour. Iron Maiden have the live game sown up and still churn out a decent long player. Motorhead are all in heaven or in hell or in purgatory. Ozzy will be retiring as Zakk joins him on his farewell tour. Yngwie Malmsteen is unleashing the fury and Slayer are missing Jeff Hanneman. Stryper asked for Gods help to take back control of their songs and are having a wicked ride enjoying a new creative period.
But for so many of the old hit bands, they have faded into the pages of history. Maybe streaming services will make people access their works easier, but I don’t think they’re going to rise through the noise and time constraints of people’s lives. Bands like Ratt and Dokken are shadows of their former selves. Quiet Riot has no original members in it, but delivered a solid album with James Durbin on vocals which no one has heard.
Slaughter can’t get themselves together to record an album, because it’s easier for ¾ of the band to go on the road with Vince Neil and play Motley hits. Dio songs are in car commercials. Poison, Warrant and Extreme ruled the charts once and now they play their greatest hits to a few hundred people. Queensryche exists in two different versions and so does Great White.
Anthrax and Scott Ian are still lamenting that sales are not the metric anymore for a successful album, while Volbeat have shown that streams lead to sales and an aggressive live show conquers all. Y&T rock Europe and do okay business. WASP cannot eclipse their debut album, even though “The Headless Cross” and “The Crimson Idol” are better albums. White Lion and Vito Bratta ruled everything for 36 months between 87 and 89 and when sales started to go downhill, so did Vito’s drive.
But for those of us who lived it, these artists inhabit a special place inside us, where our memories are triggered by the melodies and distortion. Play a Top 100 Rock list from the 80’s and you’ll be surprised how many songs you can sing along to.