100+ Best Punk Bands of the 80s – Complete List

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Looking back on the 1980s, it’s hard to deny that punk was at its peak. There were countless great punk bands playing all over the country, and many of them are still touring today.

In this article, we’ll be highlighting 100 of the best punk bands of the ’80s.

Some of these bands are well-known, while others may be lesser-known, but all of them are great examples of punk music in the 80s.


Top Best Punk Bands of the 80s

This list is based on the highest album sales, chart performance, and influence over the genre and other artists.

  1. Black Flag
  2. Ramones
  3. Dead Kennedys
  4. Misfits
  5. The Clash
  6. Bad Brains
  7. The Damned
  8. Green Day
  9. Bad Religion
  10. Circle Jerks

Honorable Mentions

  • Descendents
  • Social Distortion
  • Discharge
  • Fear (band)

Early, Mid, Late 80s Punk Bands

In the early 1980s punk rock was in its infancy. There were a few select bands that were playing shows and influencing the genre, but it was not as popular or widespread as it is today.

The mid-1980s saw a boom in punk rock popularity with many new bands emerging to challenge the established veterans. This period also saw the rise of hardcore punk, which would become the most popular form of punk music.

By the late 1980s punk had largely faded away, replaced by new sounds like grunge and metalcore. However, some of the classic punk bands from the early to mid-1980s still hold up today like Green Day and Black Flag.

Early 80s Punk Bands

  • The Heartbreakers
  • Television
  • Misfits
  • Dead Boys
  • Social Distortion
  • Adolescents

Mid 80s Punk Bands

  • The Vandals
  • Extreme Noise Terror
  • Antisect
  • MDC
  • Minor Threat

Late 80s Punk Bands

  • Anti-Flag
  • Green Day
  • The Reverend Horton Heat
  • The Peacocks
  • Nekromantix

Punk Rock Bands of the 80s

Punk rock is a music genre that emerged in the early 1970s. The bands that define punk rock are usually considered to be the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and The Clash.

These bands were part of a New York City music scene that was dominated by glam rock and disco. However, unlike glam rock and disco, punk rock was not interested in the image.

Punk music was about the rejection of materialism and class distinctions.

This rebellious attitude is what defines punk rock. However, punk rock has evolved a lot from its roots. Today, punk rock bands are as diverse as any other genre. It is no longer just about rebellion.

With that said, here are some of the most important punk rock bands from the 1980s. These bands are now seen as icons of an era, and their sound has been revisited and sampled by many modern artists.

  • The Cramps
  • Hüsker Dü
  • Adolescents 
  • The Jam
  • Buzzcocks
  • Crass
  • Stiff Little Fingers
  • T.S.O.L.
  • Fear 
  • The Dead Boys

80s All Girl (Female) Punk Bands

In the 1980s, punk rock was a predominantly male-dominated genre. However, many female-fronted punk bands emerged to challenge the status quo.

These groups included Lunachicks, The Slits, and Hole.

While some of these bands achieved mainstream success, others were largely ignored. Nevertheless, their influence can still be felt today.

  • The Slits
  • X-Ray Spex
  • Lunachicks
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • L7
  • Babes in Toyland
  • The Runaways
  • Hole
  • Shonen Knife
  • The Raincoats

Japanese Punk Bands of the 80s

Japan has a long and rich punk history that dates back to the 1980s. During this time, punk music flourished in Japan and became known as one of the country’s signature genres.

Japanese punk bands of the 80s often combined hardcore punk with elements of traditional Japanese music, creating a sound that was both unique and exciting to fans around the world.

Today, Japanese punk music is still popular and well-respected, and many bands continue to thrive in the underground scene.

  • The Stalin
  • G.I.S.M.
  • Shonen Knife
  • The Blue Hearts
  • Gauze 
  • Guitar Wolf
  • By-Sexual
  • Garlic Boys
  • The Comes
  • Eastern Youth

Seattle Punk bands of the 80s

The punk scene in Seattle was one of the most vibrant and active during the 80s.

The city was home to several punk clubs and record stores, as well as thriving independent music industry.

These places were frequented by a wide variety of punk rock fans, including young people, hipsters, and locals. There was also a strong DIY ethic among the punks in Seattle, as they often created their own shows and music festivals.

In addition to promoting local bands, these venues also helped to foster a sense of community among the punks in Seattle.

To conclude, Seattle punk bands of the 80s dominated the scene, igniting a rebellion against mainstream radio and MTV.

Seattle’s vibrant music scene also spawned grunge and alternative rock genres, making it one of the most important decades in rock history.

  • Nirvana
  • Soundgarden
  • Green River
  • Fastbacks
  • The Blackouts
  • The U-Men
  • The Gits
  • Mentors
  • Young Fresh Fellows
  • 10 Minute Warning

80s British Punk Bands

The punk rock boom of the early 1980s in the United Kingdom spawned a scene that would quickly become one of the most iconic and influential in world music.

Loud, fast, and aggressive, British punk was a reaction to the mainstream heavy metal that was increasingly dominating charts and radio playlists.

Though initially confined to small clubs and venues in major urban centers like London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, punk quickly spread to other parts of the country through word-of-mouth networks and membership in touring bands.

With its DIY ethos (DIY meaning “do it yourself”), unpretentious attitude, rowdy concerts, and subversive lyrics tackling social issues such as class warfare and unemployment, punk quickly became a key component of the British underground culture.

Here are some of the best British punk bands of the 80s.

  • Sex Pistols
  • The Clash
  • The Damned
  • The Buzzcocks
  • 999
  • Stiff Little Fingers
  • Sham 69
  • The Jam
  • The Pogues
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees

American Punk Bands of the 80s

The 1980s were a time of great change in the world of American punk rock.

With the rise of the new wave and punk’s traditional rivals, metal, and hardcore, many punk bands found themselves struggling to maintain their place in the music scene.

However, there were a few bands that not only survived but flourished during this time period. These bands are often considered some of the pioneers of modern American punk rock.

  • The Ramones
  • Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers
  • Dead Boys
  • Social Distortion
  • Bad Religion
  • The Cramps
  • Black Flag
  • The Adolescents
  • Circle Jerks
  • Dead Kennedys
  • Fear

New York Punk Bands of the 80s

In the early 1980s, punk rock was everywhere in New York City. In fact, it was often said that there was no scene bigger than New York’s punk rock scene.

But despite its prominence, punk rock wasn’t always well-received in New York. Many people viewed it as a dirty genre that was only played by uneducated kids.

But over time, punk bands from New York began to gain a wider audience, thanks to their energetic live shows and catchy tunes.

Today, several of New York’s most popular punk bands are still playing music together at clubs and festivals across the city.

So if you’re looking for some good old-fashioned NYC punk rock vibes, be sure to check out any of these groups from the 80s mentioned below.

  • Television
  • Patti Smith
  • Talking Heads
  • Blondie
  • The Dead Boys
  • Agnostic Front
  • Kraut
  • Cro-Mags
  • The Beastie Boys
  • Reagan Youth

Irish Punk Bands of the 80s

Irish punk bands have a long and illustrious history, with bands such as The Undertones, The Pogues, and the U2 all emerging from the country in the early 1980s.

The scene was initially dominated by British punk bands, but Irish acts soon began to make their mark on the international music stage.

Irish punk is characterized by its strong roots in traditional Irish music styles such as traditional balladry and country blues, as well as its DIY ethic.

This mix of heritage and innovation has resulted in some of the most iconic Irish punk songs ever written, including those by the Undertones, The Clash, and U2.

The music scene in Ireland is still active today, with several notable new Irish punk bands emerging over recent years.

  • The Pogues
  • Black 47
  • The Radiators from Space
  • Virgin Prunes
  • The Levellers
  • The Men They Couldn’t Hang
  • Paranoid Visions
  • U2
  • The Outcasts
  • Roaring Jack

Post Punk bands of the 80s

Post-punk is a genre of music that emerged in the late 1970s and is characterized by its stripped-down sound, often referencing punk rock.

Post-punk bands drew on elements of jazz, funk, and electronic music to create an eclectic and dynamic sound. The genre’s heartland was the United Kingdom, but it has since spread to other countries.

Here are some of the best post-punk bands from the 80s.

  • Joy Division
  • The Fall
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Public Image Ltd
  • Talking Heads
  • Wire
  • The Sound
  • Gang of Four
  • Bauhaus
  • The Birthday Party

Black Punk Bands of the 80s

In the 1980s, black punk bands were some of the most popular and visible performers in the punk scene.

These groups drew on African American traditions and culture to create music that was both politically and musically charged. Today, many of these bands are still active and playing shows around the world.

Here is a look at ten of the best black punk bands from that era.

  • Death
  • Pure Hell
  • Bad Brains
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Dead Kennedys
  • Fishbone
  • Wesley Willis Fiasco
  • Suffrajett
  • The Templars
  • Unlocking the Truth
  • Rough Francis

German Punk Bands of the 80s

Germany had a thriving rock scene in the 80s that spawned some of the most popular and influential punk bands of all time, including Die Toten Hosen, Die Ärzte, and Slime.

These bands helped to pioneer the German punk sound, which was heavily influenced by British punk bands such as Sex Pistols and The Clash.

It was also during this period that German punk began to spread overseas, influencing a number of underground scenes around the world.

  • Die Toten Hosen
  • Slime
  • Wizo
  • Die Goldenen Zitronen
  • Feeling B
  • Normahl
  • Dritte Wahl
  • Daily Terror
  • Schleimkeim
  • Abwärts

80s Hardcore Punk bands

Hardcore punk emerged in the early 1980s as a reaction to the wave of new wave and punk rock that was sweeping the United States.

The music was fast, aggressive, and uncompromising, with lyrics that focused on personal expression and attacking societal norms.

Today, hardcore punk remains an influential genre, with groups like Green Day continuing to spread its influence around the world.

  • The Undead
  • Sheer Terror
  • Stormtroopers of Death
  • The Accüsed
  • The Teen Idles
  • Nomeansno
  • Judge
  • NOFX
  • Operation Ivy
  • Biohazard

Australian Punk bands of the 80s

Australian punk bands are some of the most well-known in the world, and their music has had a lasting impact on the genre.

From The Saints to The Vandals, these bands have helped to define punk rock as we know it, and continue to influence contemporary artists.

While many Australian punk bands have disbanded or lost prominence in recent years, there are still a number of talented musicians out there playing the genre at its finest.

  • The Saints
  • The Birthday Party
  • Radio Birdman
  • The Scientists
  • The Victims
  • Cosmic Psychos
  • X
  • Bodyjar
  • The Meanies
  • Hard-Ons
  • Celibate Rifles
  • Exploding White Mice
  • Whirlywirld
  • Vampire Lovers

Conclusion

In conclusion, the 1980s were a great time for punk music.

There were so many talented bands playing, and many of them are still active today. If you’re a fan of punk, be sure to check out some of the bands mentioned above. You won’t be disappointed!