Hair Today, Not Gone Tomorrow: The Revival of 80s Hair Metal
Why can’t we let go of 80s metal?
Slash and Duff from Guns N’ Roses are carrying Scott Weiland on their backs—and keeping him out of rehab—via Velvet Revolver, and selling millions of records. Rob Halford has rejoined Judas Priest, which is drawing bigger crowds than they have had in almost 20 years. Mötley Crüe collectively penned a best-selling book—and is selling out arenas as big as those in their heyday.
Correct me if I am wrong, but most of us who listened to this stuff fifteen years ago felt guilty about it, right? This was not “quality” music; we did not stay up late thinking about the time signatures and complex arrangements of Bon Jovi’s releases.
Misunderstand me not—yes, I am channeling Yoda tonight—but I do truly love the metal. Especially the hair metal.
There is the relatively good: Def Leppard, Dokken, Queensrÿche, Ratt, Tesla. Then there is the bad: Poison, Slaughter, Winger. And yes, the downright ugly: Europe, Faster Pussycat, Twisted Sister.
See, you can, how the “good” is truly relative.
But even as I love it—as I rock and I roll and I revel in it—I realize that it is not actually GOOD music.
Hence my surprise at the ongoing appeal, and the recent revival, of 80s metal. I thought it was a fad, a passing thing. I thought my CD rack would become something friends came over to marvel at, as if these discs were relics from a forgotten age … like a curio cabinet with Chinese fans or Native American arrowheads.
An auditory museum, this is. Angel Witch. Autograph. Blue Murder. Cinderella. Danger Danger. Firehouse. Frehley’s Comet. Hanoi Rocks. Keel. Krokus. L.A. Guns. Raven. Tora Tora. Trixter.
No, I am not making these up. We are talking multiple Quiet Riot albums here.
What I thought would become a novelty is now wicked cool. I have friends asking ME if I want to catch Priest’s show. If the Bret Michaels show has tickets. If I am free to go see the Crüe.
How much has 80s metal permeated our culture when Ozzy Osbourne helps kick off a national cultural trend, the reality show? When Tommy Lee follows him by enrolling at the University of Nebraska, with cameras rolling? When David Lee Roth is the leading candidate to take over Howard Stern’s radio show?
Kidding I am NOT, my Padawan learner.
My memory must be failing. I do not remember, when growing up in the 80s, experiencing a 60s revival. And the 90s did not bring back the 70s; grunge music made us feel like killing ourselves, but we could not work up the energy and wound up crashing on the couch—the decade did not spur us to dress in bad plaid and grow afros. Somehow now, in the new millennium, we are building new altars to the demigods that we barely admitting listening to twenty years ago.
Although it is nice to say, “I told you so,” and show off my Whitesnake cassettes, it feels kind of funny. Something about stunted growth … reliving the past … wanting to get with ex-girlfriends one more time. It is a slippery slope, better left to the dustbin of history.
Yet something inside me yearns. The boy inside the man beckons. I cannot help sliding a Whitesnake album in the CD changer. Appetite for Destruction ends up blaring in the car. I pop in the Poison, I crank the Crüe.
Feels good, it does. And is that not what the 80s were all about?