That spawned numerous copycat bands of lesser talents that diluted the genre, and the nail in the coffin was the rise of grunge music in the early '90s. Many hair bands broke up or went on hiatus during that era, but toward the end of the decade and into the 2000s, nostalgia helped propel hair metal back to life. Bands like Poison, Motley Crue and Ratt still are able to draw large crowds to their concerts, although their new musical material hasn't been as well received.
Hair Metal Pioneers:
Bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee formed Motley Crue in 1981. They soon recruited guitarist Mick Mars, and eventually hired Vince Neil as their singer. The Crue quickly become of the most successful bands to emerge from the Sunset Strip. Their legendary partying drew almost as much as attention as their music. They had a string of successful albums, including Shout At The Devil, Theatre Of Pain, Girls Girls Girls and Dr. Feelgood. After turmoil and member changes in the '90 and early 2000s, the classic lineup is back together, touring and releasing new music.
Quiet Riot formed in the late '70s, and their early lineup included guitarist Randy Rhoads, who ended up joining Ozzy Osbourne's band before his tragic death in a plane crash. The band's first two albums didn't do much, but their third release Metal Health hit number one on the Billboard album chart, the first heavy metal album to do so. That opened the floodgates, ending up in hair metal's massive commercial popularity.
In Europe, Hanoi Rocks mixed glam rock, punk and the big hair and makeup of vocalist Michael Monroe. The Finnish band got their start in the late '70s and quickly rose through the ranks. They were on the verge of breaking through when tragedy struck. In 1984, drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley was killed in a car accident (the car was driven by Motley Crue's Vince Neil). The band was never the same. Their status as a true "hair band" is disputed by some, but there's no doubt they greatly influenced the genre, and should be considered pioneers.
Recommended Hair Metal Albums:
Motley Crue - Shout At The Devil
Ratt - Out Of The Cellar
Quiet Riot - Metal Health
Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry
Dokken - Under Lock And Key
Warrant - Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich
White Lion - Pride
Hanoi Rocks - Two Steps From The Move
Winger - Winger