During the ’80s, much of the best rock music being made came from the U.S., and we’re honoring the best of it with our look at the Top 20 ’80s American Classic Rock Bands.
The ‘80s proved to be a time of massive rock domination, with hair metal, glam rock and new wave opening doors for new artists, while also providing further inspiration for previously established acts. Technology also played a major role in shaping rock, as the experimentation with electronic keyboards that first bore fruit in the ’70s expanded when digital synthesizers, programmable drum machines and sequencers became commonplace, and guitar-based acts looked to incorporate them into their sound.
Whittling our list down to just 20 bands was difficult, especially given the abundance of worthy nominees. For the purposes of this exercise, groups were graded only on the work they delivered between 1980 and 1989. We look at how they worked through the unique artistic and commercial challenges that the ’80s presented to them.
Solo artists were excluded, meaning Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel and many other vaunted stars are absent from our list, as were bands with multi-national lineups, like Fleetwood Mac and Foreigner (although an exception was made to one group due to an American being the sole constant member). In the end, we came up with an impressive collection of bands from throughout the era. Naturally, many of the big names made the cut, including Guns n’ Roses, Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. Read on to see exactly where they landed in our list of the Top ’80s American Classic Rock Bands.