100+ Best Rock Bands of The ’80s – Complete List


The 1980s was an undeniably important decade for rock music. With the advent of MTV and the popularity of music videos, rock bands began to achieve a level of mainstream success that they hadn’t previously enjoyed.

Bands like Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses, and AC/DC became household names, while others like Metallica and Iron Maiden ushered in a new era of heavier, more aggressive rock music.

But what about other rock bands of the ’80s? The ones who didn’t achieve the same level of commercial success but were still hugely influential?

Well, this list is about them. Here are the 100+ best rock bands of the 1980s that you may not have heard of, but definitely should check out.

Best 80s Rock Bands

Picking out the best 80s rock bands is no easy task. After all, the 80s was a time when rock music was at its peak. There were so many great bands and amazing songs that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few.

That said, below we’ve put together a list of some of the best 80s rock bands in the hopes that it will help you discover some new music or relive a few memories.

  1. Guns N’ Roses
  2. Metallica
  3. Bon Jovi
  4. AC/DC
  5. Van Halen
  6. Mötley Crüe
  7. Queen
  8. ZZ Top
  9. Journey
  10. Def Leppard

80s Girl/Female Rock Bands

With the advent of popular music in the 20th century, it became a norm for females to start producing or performing their own music. In the 1960s and 1970s, there weren’t many female rock bands.

But by the 1980s, a new wave of girl-fronted bands emerged on the scene and they covered all genres from punk to post-punk to hard rock and heavy metal.

While each of these bands has a unique sound, they all share the same spirit of female empowerment and rebellion.

  • Go-Go’s
  • The Bangles
  • Madam X
  • Girlschool
  • Vixen (Late 80s)
  • Talking Heads (Female Bassist)
  • Super Heroines
  • The Graces
  • Chastain (Female Fronted)
  • The Pandoras

German Rock Bands From The 80s

German rock bands from the 80s are one of the most significant contributions to world culture. Despite their significance, they often get forgotten in today’s popular culture.

So, this following list will give you a little taste of what German rock was like in the 80s.

Including some of the most influential bands of all time, such as Scorpions, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Accept, as well as other lesser-known but equally talented bands like Die Artze and Fehlfarben.

  • Scorpions
  • Einstürzende Neubauten
  • Accept
  • Helloween (Late 80s)
  • Blind Guardian (Late 80s)
  • KMFDM (Mid 80s)
  • Die Toten Hosen (Punk Rock)
  • Böhse Onkelz
  • Fehlfarben
  • Die Ärzte

Greatest Rock Bands of The 80s

There are bands that just get by with basic songs and then there are those that leave a lasting imprint on the world of music. The latter is true for some of the greatest rock bands of the 80s.

These bands were the ones that were able to take advantage of the new technology and audio production techniques available in the decade, creating some of the most iconic and influential rock songs of all time.

They were also the ones who truly pushed the envelope and created some of the most memorable and impressive albums ever made. So, it would be criminal not to recognize them.

While there are many that fit this description, here are 10 that we think truly stand out as the greatest rock bands of the ’80s.

  • Guns N’ Roses
  • AC/DC
  • Bon Jovi
  • Mötley Crüe
  • Def Leppard
  • U2
  • Queen
  • ZZ Top
  • Iron Maiden
  • Metallica

80s Hard Rock Bands

While both rock and hard rock have been around since the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that hard rock peaked in popularity.

Often identified as “glam metal” or “glam rock,” these bands were characterized by loud guitars and raspy vocals. They also often featured incredible guitar solos and powerful lyrics about love, women, and partying.

However, today, hard rock has lost most of its appeal with the rise of Hip Hop and Pop but the legacy of these bands remains.

  • Whitesnake
  • Poison
  • AC/DC
  • Guns n’ Roses
  • Ozzy Osbourne (Band)
  • Bon Jovi
  • Van Halen
  • Mr. Big
  • Europe
  • Bad English (Supergroup)

Heavy Metal 80s Rock Bands

Heavy metal is all about power, aggression, and speed. Characterized by double bass drumming, distorted guitars, and growling vocals, heavy metal was the sound of rebellion in the 1980s.

However, it was also seen by many as just noise, and often labeled as “devil music”. But despite its reputation, it proved to be hugely influential with many metal bands from the 80s still going strong today.

To name a few, we have the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. All four bands are responsible for some of the most legendary heavy metal songs of all time. So, this section is dedicated to them and their enduring contributions to the world of heavy metal.

  • Slayer
  • Metallica
  • Anthrax
  • Iron Maiden
  • Pantera
  • Venom
  • Sepultura
  • Testament
  • Exodus
  • Kreator
  • Nuclear Assault

80s Punk Rock Bands

The best punk rock bands of the 80s are a testament to a rich history and culture that has been with us for decades. The punk movement began in the mid-1970s, delivering a sound that was raw, fast, and stripped-down but it typically featured short songs with hard-edged melodies and lyrics.

Punk is a form of rebellion against what you think is mainstream or ordinary. It’s a way to say, “I’m different.” These 20 bands were some of the best back then, and they’re still going strong today.

Whether you’re a new fan or a diehard, these bands will have something for you.

  • Angry Samoans
  • Bad Religion
  • Minor Threat
  • The Misfits
  • Circle Jerks
  • Angry Samoans
  • MDC
  • Social Distortion
  • T.S.O.L.
  • Fear

80s British Rock Bands

British rock music has come to dominate the world. From The Beatles to The Clash, many of the most famous bands in history are British.

That trend continues today, with British rock bands like Coldplay, Radiohead, and Muse winning over audiences from all around the world. This section will tell you some of the best British rock bands from the 80s.

  • Queen (band)
  • The Cure
  • The Smiths
  • Pink Floyd
  • The Kinks
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Jam
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • The Stone Roses
  • Herman’s Hermits
  • King Crimson
  • The Animals
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • The Alan Parsons Project
  • Spencer Davis Group
  • Marillion

Classic Rock Bands of the 80s

With the exception of music, not much has changed in the last 50 years. Rock ‘n’ roll is still rocking and rolling. The 80s was a decade that produced some of the best classic rock bands – who are still alive and kicking today!

The popularity of these rock bands has endured for decades and continues to inspire new generations to discover their music and love it. Here are the top 10 best classic rock bands from the 80s:

  • Pink Floyd
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Queen (band)
  • Deep Purple
  • Blondie
  • The Pretenders
  • The Cars
  • Hall & Oates
  • Journey
  • Motley Crue
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • ZZ Top
  • Van Halen
  • Dire Straits

80s Soft Rock Bands

Soft rock is a genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s. It features gentler sounds, smoother vocals, and more emphasis on melody than fast electric guitars. You may not have heard of all these bands, but once you do, you’ll be singing them for days. Soft rock reached its peak in 1984 with Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” and Madonna’s album “Like A Virgin” coming out that year as well as Huey Lewis and the News’ “Sports” album during 1985. Here is a list of the 10 best soft rock bands of the 80s.

  • Air Supply
  • Bee Gees
  • Toto (band)
  • Hall and Oates
  • REO Speedwagon
  • Foreigner (band)
  • Genesis (band)
  • Styx (band)
  • Chicago (band)
  • The Doobie Brothers
  • Seals and Crofts
  • Steely Dan

Australian Rock Bands of 80s

With the decade of the 1980s coming to a close and moving into the 1990s, there were some great Australian rock bands that emerged. Each band was unique in their own way, but they all contributed to the rock scene in Australia in one way or another during this decade. Below are 10 Australian rock bands from the 80s that withstood the test of time and holds up today.

  • Cold Chisel
  • Hunters and Collectors
  • INXS
  • Men at Work
  • Midnight Oil
  • AC/DC
  • Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
  • Crowded House
  • The Church (band)
  • Hoodoo Gurus
  • The Angels
  • Australian Crawl
  • The Party Boys
  • The Choirboys (band)
  • Rose Tattoo
  • The Sunnyboys
  • The Cruel Sea (band)

Canadian Rock Bands of 80s

Canada has always been a country that had a strong rock and metal scene. The best Canadian rock bands from the 80s took this talent and ran with it. From Rush to Chilliwack, these Canadian rock bands were all over the radio and MTV in their day. Here’s a list of 10 of these bands:

  • Chilliwack
  • Loverboy
  • Saga
  • Red Rider
  • Corey Mitchell Hart
  • Lee Aaron 
  • Honeymoon Suite
  • Haywire
  • Glass Tiger
  • Cowpunk
  • The Parachute Club
  • The Box
  • Strange Advance
  • Headpins
  • Sheriff
  • Frōzen Ghōst
  • Teenage Head 
  • Idle Eyes
  • Eight Seconds
  • The Northern Pikes
  • Brighton Rock
  • Martha and the Muffins
  • The Tragically Hip

80s Rock and Roll Bands

Rock and roll have always been a genre that is deeply embedded in American culture. This is especially true in the 80s, when it made its most significant contribution to popular culture.

There were many artists who had major success with their albums, singles, and concert performances during this decade. With so many great bands to choose from, here are 10 of the most iconic 80s rock and roll bands.

  • Ramones
  • Winger (band)
  • Rush (band)
  • The Cure
  • Yes (band)
  • Styx (band)
  • Dokken
  • Warrant
  • REO Speedwagon
  • The Cars
  • Blondie (band)
  • Judas Priest
  • Skid Row
  • Pink Floyd
  • AC/DC

Glam Rock Bands of 80s

Glam rock is a genre of music that became popular in the 1970s and 1980s. It is often seen as the point where the glitter of glam-pop met with hard rock. The look of glam rock varies, but some of its most notable elements are long hair, heavy makeup, flashy clothes, and a lot of attitude. This style reached its height in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s but quickly faded into obscurity by the 1990s. Here are some great glam rock bands from the decade that you may have missed.

  • Mötley Crüe
  • Bon Jovi
  • Poison (American band)
  • Twisted Sister
  • Def Leppard
  • Quiet Riot
  • Kiss (band)
  • Ratt
  • Skid Row
  • White Lion
  • L.A. Guns
  • Roxy Music
  • Enuff Z’Nuff
  • Slade

80s Christian Rock Bands

The 1980s was a decade where people saw the rise of new technology, like Walkmans and VCRs, as well as many new musical genres. One genre that experienced a major boom in popularity during the 80s was Christian rock.

As secular music was becoming more popular, 80s Christian rock bands were releasing albums with lyrics that reflected their faith. Here are some of the best 80s Christian rock bands that you can revisit for your next party or study session.

  • Petra (band)
  • Stryper
  • Whitecross (band)
  • Daniel Amos
  • White Heart
  • DC Talk
  • Audio Adrenaline
  • Sweet Comfort Band
  • Guardian (band)
  • Messiah Prophet
  • Circle of Dust
  • Holy Soldier
  • One Bad Pig
  • Bloodgood

Southern Rock Bands of The 80s

Southern rock bands from the 80s still resonate with listeners today. Southern rock is a genre of rock and roll music that came out of the Southern United States in the 1970s. Bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and The Allman Brothers Band were among some of the most well-known and loved groups during this time period. Here are 10 top southern rock bands from the 80s:

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • The Marshall Tucker Band
  • The Allman Brothers Band
  • 38 Special (band)
  • Molly Hatchet
  • ZZ Top
  • Blackfoot (band)
  • The Georgia Satellites
  • The Kentucky Headhunters
  • Little Feat
  • Dixie Dregs
  • Eagles (band)
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  • Point Blank (band)

80s Pop Rock Bands

Pop rock music always had a close relationship with the 80s. Thanks to stars like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Elton John that pop-rock became the sound of the decade.

With so many great artists making their debut in this time period, it can be hard to choose which ones are worth listening to. Here are 10 of the best pop rock bands from the 80s that you need to know!

  • Fandango (American band)
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Foreigner (band)
  • The A’s
  • The Go-Go’s
  • Goo Goo Dolls
  • The Graces (band)
  • The Bangles
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Romantics
  • The Grass Roots
  • All Sports Band

80s Alternative Rock Bands

A lot of people will say that there were no good bands in the 80s. But these 10 bands prove them wrong! Alternative rock was the most popular genre of music during this time period. Bands like The Cure, U2, and Radiohead revolutionized what we know about rock and roll. Their music was unique and memorable while still being familiar to some degree. They’re not your average 80s band and they deserve more credit than they get. Here are ten of the best alternative rock bands from the 80s that you may not have heard of.

  • Nirvana
  • The Dream Syndicate
  • The Soft Boys
  • Girls At Our Best
  • Screaming Trees
  • TV Personalities
  • The Smiths
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • That Petrol Emotion
  • Meat Puppets
  • Galaxie 500
  • Sonic Youth
  • Close Lobsters
  • New Order
  • Dinosaur
  • The Housemartins
  • Hüsker Dü

European Rock Bands 80s

The 80s was a decade that saw many new subgenres emerge, including glam metal, grunge, and punk rock. Europe was not left out of this trend. Indeed, Europe has long been home to some of the world’s best rock bands. Below we will showcase 10 of the best European rock bands from this era, who may not be as well known as others but are still worth checking out!

  • Scorpions
  • Golden Earring
  • a-ha
  • Falco
  • Krokus
  • Nena
  • The Sugarcubes
  • Europe
  • Vangelis
  • Jan Hammer

Irish Rock Bands 80s

Irish rock music of the 1980s was a vibrant and diverse scene, with many bands playing different styles of music. The decade saw the rise of bands such as U2, Thin Lizzy, The Pogues and Hothouse Flowers. Irish rock music of the 1980s had a major impact on global rock and punk scenes. It also influenced the 1990s dance music scene with bands such as Two Inch Punch and Underworld. Here are some of the best Irish rock bands that ruled in the 80s.

  • U2
  • Thin Lizzy
  • The Boomtown Rats
  • The Pogues
  • Horslips
  • The Cranberries
  • The Undertones
  • Stiff Little Fingers
  • Clannad
  • The Golden Horde (band)
  • The Saw Doctors
  • Microdisney
  • My Bloody Valentine

Progressive Rock 80s Rock Bands

Progressive Rock is characterized by use of complex musical structures, extended instrumental segments, and sometimes unusual time signatures. It’s a genre that refuses to stay stagnant and continues to evolve with every new album release. So, if you are looking for some great Progressive Rock bands of the 80s then here a list of bands that are worth checking out!

  • The Alan Parsons Project
  • Jon Anderson
  • Asia
  • Peter Gabriel
  • IQ
  • Jon and Vangelis
  • Genesis
  • Robert Fripp
  • Brian Eno
  • Laraaji
  • Djam Karet
  • Buggles

Iconic 80s Rock Bands

Rock music had a huge impact on the 80s. So, it’s no surprise that there are many iconic rock bands from this decade. Some of the most popular 80s rock bands are Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, and Bon Jovi.

These groups have left an everlasting impression on music culture not just in the 80s but for decades to come.

If you’re looking for some good rock tunes to binge-listen to or “tunes” to blast with your old car speakers, then this section is for you! Here are 10 iconic rock bands from the 80s.

  • Guns N’ Roses
  • U2
  • Queen (band)
  • Judas Priest
  • Black Sabbath
  • Aerosmith
  • AC/DC
  • Def Leppard
  • Kiss (band)
  • Led Zeppelin


There are tons of more rock bands that were great during the 80s but the ones that are mentioned aboved were the best. I hope that you enjoyed the selections and agree with my choices for who belongs on this list. In future I will be updating this page more bands so, don’t forget to give this page a visit. Till, then check do check out these bands.