Whatever Happened To These Famous '80s Hair Bands?

The sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll moniker of the 1970s added two extra words in the 1980s: "hair" and "makeup." Call it glam rock, hair metal, pop rock, or whatever you want, but these rock bands were unbelievably popular throughout the '80s. The 1990s, however, weren't quite as friendly. Many hair bands broke up, recorded solo records or, in some cases, lost members due to drug overdoses and AIDS. 

But the allure of the '80s glam band hasn't dissipated over the years. In fact, it might be even larger thanks to huge worldwide stadium tours, festivals like Rock in Rio and Coachella, "Rock Band," and reality TV shows. Defying age and time, most of these bands continue to hit the recording booth and tour well into their 50s, 60s, and even 70s. Haven't been keeping up? Here's what happened to your favorite '80s hair bands.

Guns N' Roses

Guns N' Roses were stratospheric in the late 1980s and early '90s — smashing chart and tour records left, right, and center. But despite the band's success, its two leading egos, vocalist Axl Rose and guitarist Slash, simply couldn't get along. In 1996, Rose brought in his friend Paul Tobias to play rhythmic guitar, which was the last straw for Slash, who left in October of that year. Q magazine reported that drummer Matt Sorum said Tobias was the "Yoko Ono of Guns N' Roses." 

Axl Rose went on to tour under the name Guns N' Roses, even though he was the only original member of the band and was working on an electronic-infused record, "Chinese Democracy." The album racked up over $13 million in recording costs by 2005, according to The New York Times, before finally being released in 2008. No thanks was given to Dr. Pepper, which Exclaim says offered everyone in America except Slash and Buckethead a free drink if the album came out that year. 

In 2012, Luxwing reported that Rose said the band would never reunite "in this lifetime." Four years later, Guns N' Roses did, in fact, reunite for the Not in This Lifetime... Tour, which ended up stretching into 2019, when the band's tour plans were halted due to COVID-19. "We all were pretty positive [the reunion] would never happen, so it's still sort of blowing our minds," Ultimate Classic Rock quoted Slash as saying in 2016.

Mötley Crüe

Mötley Crüe was the quintessential glam rock hair band in the early '80s, but come 1987, it all came to an end. Well, almost. That year, Newsweek reports that founding bassist Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin. Despite being declared legally dead in the ambulance, Sixx was revived with two shots of adrenaline by a paramedic who just so happened to be a Crüe fan. The group went sober in 1989 and released its most successful album, "Dr. Feelgood." 

In 1992, Ultimate Classic Rock reports that lead singer Vince Neil left the band (or was fired), but the rift was short-lived, as he returned in 1997. Mötley Crüe went on to tour for nearly two more decades, culminating in a worldwide farewell tour with Alice Cooper in 2015. The band signed a "cessation of touring" contract that year, with a vow that they'd never tour again. 

Yet, four years later, Netflix released "The Dirt," a biopic based on the group's 2001 autobiography written with the help of "The Game" writer Neil Strauss. The popularity of the film convinced the band to literally blow up the cessation of touring contract (as seen on their website). Mötley Crüe was planning a huge reunion tour along with Def Leppard and Poison in the summer of 2020 but had to reschedule to 2021 due to COVID-19.

Def Leppard

After a hugely successful 1980s, British hair band Def Leppard faced tragedy at the beginning of the 1990s. Loudwire recounts that guitarist Steve Clark died in January 1991 due to a mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. The band continued to tour at a rampant pace, with iHeartRadio reporting that they broke a Guinness World Record in 1995 for performing three concerts on three continents in a single day. In the U.S., Def Leppard was hugely popular, especially among attractive women, as guitarist Phil Collen recounts in his memoir, "Adrenalized: Life, Def Leppard, and Beyond": "I was waiting for an elevator in a hotel. A really hot girl whom I had never seen in my life came up to me, pulled my pants down, and went down on me and didn't say a word. This type of stuff didn't happen before with total strangers." 

Def Leppard released their biopic, "Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story," in 2001 and continued releasing hit albums. They recorded a song on Paul McCartney's tribute album and did shows with Taylor Swift, Kiss, Journey, Cheap Trick, and more. After a 2019 Las Vegas residency, Def Leppard's second in six years, the band linked up with Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Joan Jett for the Stadium Tour in summer 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


After becoming one of the top hair bands in the late '80s, Poison sent 20,000 CDs to U.S. troops during the Gulf War, which Moondance Jam says earned a "thank you" from then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. At the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, guitarist C.C. DeVille and lead singer Bret Michaels got into a fight backstage, according to Tone Deaf. The guitarist was subsequently fired, but five years later, DeVille got his job back. 

Meanwhile, around that time, Michaels was hooking up with Canadian actress Pamela Anderson. (MTV reports Anderson made a sex tape with him, as well as the much more famous one with husband Tommy Lee, and Michaels went to court to keep theirs off the internet.) The band continued to tour and make records, frequently breaking off to make their own solo albums. At a 2006 show in Atlanta, Philly Voice recalls that Michaels and bassist Bobby Dall got into a fight right before the encore, with Michaels throwing his mic at Dall and the bassist slamming his guitar into the singer. 

If you think Michaels is dramatic enough to be featured on reality TV, he'd be in agreement. Since 2006, Michaels has appeared on three seasons of VH1's "Rock of Love," where women competed for his affection, as well as "Celebrity Apprentice 3" (he won), and he starred in another VH1 reality docu-series in 2010. Poison has continued to tour and are expected to open for Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard for the Stadium Tour in 2022, previously canceled due to COVID.

Bon Jovi

After recording karaoke and road trip anthems like "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer" in the 1980s, Jon Bon Jovi and his band continued to rock out and stay supremely popular. In 1991, the band was going through the kind of rift that most hair bands were facing at the time, and Forbes recalls that Jon fired management and took over the band himself. Then, the band flew off to a Caribbean island to have a heart-to-heart chat about their feelings and decided to work it out, according to Rockapedia

NME says that the band continued to stick together, except for bassist Alec John Such, who was later fired. After their hugely successful 1995 tour, Bon Jovi took a four-year hiatus to work on solo stuff and then roared back with another serious banger: 2000's "It's My Life." Bon Jovi kept on releasing albums in the 2000s, virtually all of which were chart-toppers. Over 30 years, Bon Jovi has played more than 2,600 concerts in more than 50 countries for over 34 million fans, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And they aren't going to stop now. The band's 15th album was supposed to come out in May 2020, followed by a world tour, but Jon Bon Jovi told Howard Stern on his radio show (via Variety) that everything is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. The band released the album "2020" in October of that year and have tour dates in 2022.


KISS pretty much owned the 1970s and early '80s, but in 1983, they felt a change was necessary and decided to wipe off their makeup and ditch their costumes. Fans weren't impressed, but singer Gene Simmons told Rolling Stone he didn't understand why. "We always contended from the beginning that the makeup was just a sort of a stage manifestation of who we are ... KISS is still KISS." Tragically, drummer Eric Carr was diagnosed with cancer in 1991 and died at the age of 41, so two of the four band spots alongside Simmons and Paul Stanley were in flux. 

At the 38th Grammy Awards, Ultimate Classic Rock recounts that rapper Tupac Shakur shocked the world by introducing KISS in their full makeup and costumes yet again. USA Today reported that the band's 1996 reunion tour, in full costume, grossed $43.6 million, and they performed one final reunion tour in 2000

Well, at least that was how it was supposed to end. Kiss went on tour with Aerosmith in 2003 and headlined the Rock the Nation Tour alongside Poison. After a few years of sporadic shows, they returned to world touring and have more or less kept it up ever since. Their latest rendition of a farewell tour was supposed to play over 180 shows and gross some $200 million, Simmons told The Wall Street Journal, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. Dates have been announced for 2022, in what they are calling their "final tour ever."

Twisted Sister

While frontman Dee Snider doesn't think Twister Sister is hair metal, we're going to include them in this list because, well, they are. In the mid-'80s, Twisted Sister was making bangers like "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock." But by 1987, different members left for different ventures, and the band officially disbanded, according to Guitar World. Only Snider remained in the public eye by joining a couple of lesser-known metal bands and then becoming a radio and TV personality. Later, in 2001, bassist Mark Mendoza even went so far as to say on an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" that he wanted Snider dead. 

When the band finally reunited for a 9/11 benefit concert later that year, they didn't care about seeming new and sported their '80s-era costumes. "Let's be honest," Snider said. "Nobody cares about the new stuff — they don't want to hear it, and they certainly don't want to buy it." Twisted Sister went on to play different festivals around the world to crowds often bigger than in their early days, which was good news for Snider, who Fox News reports was broke by the mid-'90s. In 2015, drummer A.J. Pero died of a heart attack in his sleep, and the band subsequently announced their final tour: "Forty and F*** It." So far, they've stuck to that promise, as their last show was in November 2016.

Alice Cooper

By 1991, shock rocker Alice Cooper had recorded 19 albums, and not all of them were good. Yahoo writes that he openly refers to his 1980s records as "blackout albums" because he was so messed up on drugs he couldn't recall recording them. In the 1990s, Cooper was still making records with his band and was featured on songs with some of rock's biggest stars. Apart from making music and touring near-constantly since the 1960s, Cooper liked to cross pop culture lines. He popped onto the set of "Wayne's World" in 1992 and made cameos in "The Simpsons" and Tim Burton's adaptation of "Dark Shadows." He was even in a Marvel comic

In 2014, Cooper was an opening act on Mötley Crüe's final tour. The next year, he again wore a different hat by forming a supergroup called Hollywood Vampires with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry featuring rock covers. In 2018, Cooper played Herod in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert," which earned positive reviews from The New York Times. If Cooper can do so much, why doesn't he run for president? He has, 12 times, including in 2020. It is somewhat odd that Cooper runs for president, considering that in 2010, he said he's "extremely non-political," according to Rolling Stone.

Van Halen

By the end of the 1980s, Van Halen had already switched lead singers, subbing Sammy Hagar in for David Lee Roth, who left in 1984 to do his solo thing. Regardless of the lead singer, Van Halen continued to hit number one on the charts. That is, until 1996, when Hagar left following spats with Eddie Van Halen while recording the "Twister" soundtrack, Guitar World reported. No singer, no problem. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen and brother Alex ended up recording "Respect the Wind," which was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the Grammys. 

The band switched singers a couple of times and subbed in Eddie's son Wolfgang for bassist Michael Anthony. In 2007, Roth finally returned despite telling TMZ there could be a "'Jerry Springer'-like brawl" if he did, and Van Halen continued to play sold-out shows across the globe. Throughout their career, they were one of the best-selling bands of all time, selling more than 80 million albums worldwide and charting 13 Billboard number one hits. In 2019, the band released yet another box set. Tragically, it would be their last. On October 6, 2020, the LA Times reported that Eddie Van Halen died of cancer after first announcing his diagnosis in 2001. "He was the best father I could ever ask for," Eddie's son Wolfgang tweeted. "Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift."

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne has chided '80s glam rock bands before, saying: "Every f***ing hair-band was wheedle-wheedle-wheedle," according to Guitar World. But the so-called Prince of Darkness' 1986 album "The Ultimate Sin" is a quintessential hair metal album, as explained by Sputnikmusic and many others, so we're going to include it here. Following his successful solo split from Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne went on what was to be his last tour in 1993, poignantly titled the "No More Tours Tour." Needless to say, it wasn't the last tour. He continued to play live, including at his wildly successful Ozzfest. 

By the next century, a new generation of fans got acquainted with Ozzy Osbourne from his frequent MTV reality shows. The Osbournes first did a show called "The Osbournes" from 2002 to 2005. They also did a show called "Battle for Ozzfest," Sharon Osbourne appeared on "The X-Factor UK," and they released a show on Travel Channel called "The Osbournes Want to Believe" about paranormal activity. 

Ozzy announced yet again that he'd stop touring in 2018 with "No More Tours Tour II," but that turned out to be a fake as well, with Ozzy saying he'll do gigs but not world tours, according to Blabbermouth. (Incidentally, the tour has continued into 2022).  At age 71, Ozzy released yet another solo album, "Ordinary Man," and Louder reports that his wife Sharon thinks he has more albums in the works.

Skid Row

Skid Row had a late start to the hair band era, releasing their first album in January 1989. But as Rolling Stone recalls, it was better late than never, as they managed to go five times platinum with their debut. Skid Row went on to open for some of the biggest rock bands in the business, including Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, and Van Halen, according to Concert Archives. Soon, though, grunge and punk music swooped in and stole their spotlight. 

In late 1996, lead singer Sebastian Bach left the band amid an "abyss of hatred," according to Louder, and Skid Row dissolved. Four years later, the band was revived with Johnny Solinger on vocals and Phil Varone on drums. Skid Row opened for Kiss in 2000 and recorded their first album to feature Solinger in 2003. Another album was released in 2006, and the band continued to tour, including on the Motley Cruise, a rock show on a ship, reports NME

The band released a trilogy of EPs in 2013 and 2014, but according to Blabbermouth, bassist Rachel Bolan said the band didn't think Solinger was "putting a hundred percent into things," so they fired him in favor of ZP Theart. After the re-release of Skid Row's smash 1989 album, Bach wanted to play a 30th-anniversary tour with the band, but guitarist Dave Sabo said no. Both Skid Row and Sebastian Bach had tour dates planned separately in 2020, but they were postponed due to COVID-19. Luckily, dates were rescheduled for 2022.


Credited as being one of the founding glam metal hair bands of the 1980s, Ratt recorded four albums to mixed critical reviews. In the early '90s, the band came out with their fifth album and toured, but guitarist Robbin Crosby struggled to keep up due to a heavy drug addiction. After he returned from a tour in Japan, he checked into rehab, and in 1994, Ultimate Classic Rock explains that Crosby was diagnosed with HIV, which eventually developed into AIDS. 

In a 1999 interview for VH1's "Behind the Music," Crosby talked about his addiction and HIV. "What has drug addiction done for me?" he asked, according to Hair Band Heaven. "It's cost me my career, my fortune, basically my sex life when I found out I was HIV positive." Crosby died in 2002 of a heroin overdose at 42 years old. A mishmash of the original band members reunited for a tour in 2007 and released a new album in 2010. It would be their last to date. 

After some legal battles over who controls the band, Blabbermouth reports that founding lead singer Stephen Pearcy announced in 2018 that he'd continue Ratt with bassist Juan Croucier. The band saw a surge in streams and exposure recently thanks to a GEICO commercial about new homeowners that love their house despite their "Ratt problem." Pearcy said in 2019 that the band has a new album in the works.