Single Status Update
Grunge did not kill hair Metal: debunking the myth.
You've probably heard this myth your whole life how Grunge "killed hair metal" but I'm going to explain why that is a myth and more than anything a marketing creation to promote Grunge bands (specifically Nirvana).
Let's go back to the final years of the 80's and the early 90's. Hair Metal or "Pop Metal" or "Glam Metal" (whatever you want to call it) had just about run it's course in general...
By hair metal; this is a reference to bands such as Cinderella, Ratt, Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Loverboy, Honeymoon Suite, L.A. Guns and soooooooo many others.
At the height of the glam metal phase, most of the heavyweights of Metal who had been already established for some time and widely considered cornerstone bands of the genre eventually adapted to glam metal to sell more records. Judas Priest for instance released the album 'Turbo' 1986. Ozzy Osbourne also released a glam based album in that same year called 'The Ultimate Sin'. Unless you are a big fan of one or the other, these albums are mostly forgotten from their catalogs. 1986 was the height of glam rock, but it was beginning to fade out by 1990.
Going into the 1990's, most hair metal bands were left standing on their last leg and things did not look good for them; Poison was beginning to break up due to guitarist C.C. Deville's cocaine problems worsening over time, and Bret Michaels was beginning to develop the rock star ego or what is often called 'lead singer god complex'. Ratt was in trouble due to Robin Crosby's heroin addiction and more than anything, the band could never top their mega hit of 'Round and Round'. Warrant was getting sick after lead singer Jamie Lane had ate too much 'Cherry Pie' and the band lost it's minds, and using them as an example; most of these bands and the L.A. glam scene had become a caricature parody of their former selves.
There was also the underground "Thrash/Speed Metal" scene that began in the 80's, and bands like Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax arguably had something to do with this, cause they were beginning to peak in popularity going into the 90's.
My point here is, most of these bands were already on life support before Nirvana even came out and grunge was marketed to the forefront. There were various underground scenes that were beginning to take over and could've easily been picked up and marketed by the music industry. Kurt Cobain admitted before that he got most of his ideas from the Pixies and Sonic Youth, who were big in the underground grunge of the 80's (R.E.M. also was a big underground band in the 80's with that "indie" sound that grunge is associated with, more proof that Nirvana did not create grunge). But further note; these glam bands were about to fizzle out regardless due to all their problems.
Heavy Metal was still a force by the time Grunge came out; the 'Thrash' or 'Speed Metal' bands (Whatever you prefer to call them) of the 80's were beginning to enjoy great success in the mainstream: Metallica's self titled 'black' album sold millions of records and to this day is one of the highest selling albums in lists. In 1992, Megadeth's single 'Symphony of the Destruction' hit #2 on the Billboard 200 chart and the album 'Countdown to Extinction' is their highest selling record of that decade; Anthrax's album 'Sound of White Noise' debuted at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 albums (an album they made without their lead singer from the 80's). And of course, the last surviving L.A. scene glam band going into the 90's was Guns N Roses and they were still selling millions of records during the height of Grunge. In 1993, Guns N Roses released 'The Spaghetti Incident'. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 charts. That is an album that is mostly forgotten about, but it hit #4 and sold millions upon it's initial release. GNR is also an example of how self-destructive the glam bands were going into the 90's with drug problems and feuds with band members, setting up the table for their own destruction.
In 1994, while Grunge was still the main force to be reckoned with, Motley Crue released a self titled album without singer Vince Neil that managed to peak at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
So no, Grunge and Nirvana did not outright kill Hair Metal. It was already dying by the time they came around.
- Show previous comments 4 more
["Record companies stopped developing bands and artists, and instead began to search for what would be an instant homerun with a debut album in sales. I blame Nirvana on that. Originally, selling around 150,000 was considered a great success and bands could make it and live comfortably with those numbers. After the explosive hit with these Grunge bands on just the debut album alone, the benchmark was raised beyond that, and if a band couldn't sell at least 200,000 copies, then the album was considered a failure."]
So true Bogie. Labels in the early 90's demanded success right out of the gate now. Instead of allowing bands to find their sound or niche over say 2 albums before the company expected growth from the group of a substantial nature. By that I mean, touring to find your loyal devoted audience meant more than radio station play & mainstream Billboard success.
If a band finds the right independent label that gives the artist time to perfect their sound, they've got a shot. But, most major labels view success now based solely on iTunes downloads over the 1st couple of months which doesn't foster creativity longterm.
["You mentioned Neil's solo effort 'Exposed'. I own a copy of this album. Been many, many years since I last listened to it, but I'm pretty sure that his guitar player on that album was Steve Stevens, who you may know for doing guitar work on Michael Jackson's 'Bad' album. It's been ages since I listened to it but I overall remember his guitar work being pretty good on the 'Exposed' record. Stevens was one of those working studio guitar players of the 80's who was always great on whatever he did.
I might dig out my copy of 'Exposed' and listen to it this coming week. Been many years since I last heard it, I think you may have just inspired me."]
Yes, I'm well versed in Steve Stevens riffs & fingering on guitar necks. He worked with Billy Idol too. Steve's solos meshed nicely with Vince Neil's voice as well. That Exposed record sounded more like Motley Crue-ish than Nikki Sixx & Tommy Lee did that yr which was released in 1993.
Favorite track on that album: You Can't Change Me. Spanish guitar vibe intro always appeals to me I guess. See..
["Iron Maiden released that god awful album 'No Prayer For The Dying' and practically became a joke of themselves (Holy Smoke!!!). Then they released 'Fear of the Dark' which I know the title track is widely popular (and seriously, the only good song on the whole record), but that album was even worse than No Prayer for the Dying. I don't think most people have listened to it all the way through to remember how bad it was...Then Bruce Dickinson quit the band, they got a new singer and released some albums in the 90's that no one remembers."]
I agree with everything you said about 'No Prayer For The Dying' an atrocious album indeed. My favorite studio album with Bruce & the boys is hands down 'Somewhere In Time' released in 1986 with classics like "Stranger In A Strange Land," Heaven Can Wait, & my sentimental favorite "Wasted Years." I never get tired of that track. Gotta hear it on guitar like pronto now. Checkout this woman known as Six string Kitty giving this song it's metal dues:
It's a travesty that Iron Maiden is still absent from the Rock & Roll HOF man.
I also have a soft spot for "Seventh Son Of The Seventh Son" too. One of the most challenging & creative percussion arrangements ever created.
Nicko McBrain rocks!