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Synthetic

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  1. 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.  

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. southwest1

      southwest1

      "So no, Grunge and Nirvana did not outright kill Hair Metal. It was already dying by the time they came around." --Bogie

       

      I suppose one could make a case that some established acts were getting stale in their set lists or perhaps familiar front men has vocal cords that struggled to deliver the range they had 20 yrs earlier. Sometimes, disappearing for awhile helps & then re-emerging to meet the supply & demand after a long hiatus away from the limelight. 

       

      I don't really count GNR as a band that bypassed or survived the Grunge Movement either because the musicians in that group had versatility & staying power with Slash in it & besides by 1989 GNR was in Clint Eastwood's "Deadpool" movie which propelled that band forward into the early 90's just on Dirty Harry recognition alone. For almost 4 yrs Axl Rose could do no wrong with hits like "Civil War" & Patience to their credit. 

       

      Nikki Sixx's self titled album Motley Crue sucked while their fired lead singer Vince Neil's Exposed record showed what a huge mistake their self absorbed bassist made. That always makes me laugh. Nikki thought he was so high & mighty & then look whose sales crashed & burned while Vince's skyrocketed. I roared over that fiasco. LOL! Serves you right Nikki. 

    3. Synthetic

      Synthetic

       

      Quote

      I will agree that Grunge slowed down record sales in Hard Rock & heavy metal. That's what that criticism was targeted at. New up & coming acts in that genre trying to land a record deal. In addition, stadium sales in traditional rock groups did decline when Pearl Jam & Nirvana hit the scene & made a splash Bogie. 

       

      Grunge ruined everything in my eyes. I hate everything about it and could rant like a lunatic about it. But this post was mainly to debunk the myth that it "killed" glam metal. Glam bands were already on their way out by the time Nirvana came around. 

       

      Had it not been Grunge that was picked up by the mainstream music industry, we'd probably be hearing how the "Shoegaze" genre murdered glam metal. There were various other "alternative" underground scenes in the late 80's that could've easily been picked up instead of Grunge

       

      Grunge did screw up how record labels approach bands and handle them. It all goes back to the debut successes of the early Grunge bands.

       

      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. 

       

      As far as the music industry is concerned, Grunge did ruin things and change their mindsets completely. The music industry always had it's ups and downs in previous decades, but after the success of grunge in the 90's, they completely changed totally and became more greedy and centered around sales more than ever before. 

       

      Quote

      It boils down to this: After Kurt Cobain & Eddie Vedder gained a big following, major west coast labels were not signing fresh new metal talent in America. So, in a sense, with no new young rock in the blood line; hair metal was actually on life support for a few yrs. 

       

      This is all true.

       

      Record labels also changed bands from inside out. Labels began to tell producers and bands to cut out guitar solos and make songs more simpler after Grunge became the new thing. One of the things I greatly remember was hearing the bright guitar sound of the 80's completely diminish only to be replaced by a much louder, more dropped down distorted sound (something I do not miss at all from the 90's). 

       

      What came after Grunge was worse too. Cobain and Vedder and these guys spawned the movements of "Nu-Metal" and "Post-Grunge". The weird metal/rap hybrid bands like Korn and Limp Biscuit were terrible and I hated this crap back in the 90's. Nickelback is probably the most hated band in the last decade, and they just so happen to be the most famous Post-Grunge band. Eddie Vedder's awful vocals gave way to Scott freaking Stapp who was also horrible. 

       

       

       

      Quote

      Blackie Lawless of WASP traveled exclusively in Europe, Spain, & the Netherlands for awhile when their concert sales had diminishing returns in North America & even Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale of Deep Purple fame when through a lull in sales at large venues in the early 1990's. 

       

      I saw WASP many, many years back in the early 2000's play in NOLA and they were great.

       

      A lot of Metal bands on foreign and UK based labels did pretty good during the 90's thanks to their activity in Europe and outside of America. The bands on RoadRunner Records come to mind. 

       

      What Blackie did was very smart. Over in Europe and especially the Scandinavian countries, there are still thriving Metal scenes over there to this day. 

       

       

       

      Quote

      I don't really count GNR as a band that bypassed or survived the Grunge Movement either because the musicians in that group had versatility & staying power with Slash in it & besides by 1989 GNR was in Clint Eastwood's "Deadpool" movie which propelled that band forward into the early 90's just on Dirty Harry recognition alone. For almost 4 yrs Axl Rose could do no wrong with hits like "Civil War" & Patience to their credit. 

       

      GNR was still selling millions of records during the 90's. Also still selling out massive arenas for big concerts, so I think they survived pretty good. Most of GNR's problems had to do with Axl Rose developing a heavy case of lead singer god complex and the various drug problems with the band.

       

      Use Your Illusions 1 and 2 are the first double albums to ever be released and debut at #1 and #2 on the Billboard. Instead of releasing a double-disc album, they released them as two separate individual albums and they ruled the charts. 

       

      As I explained in the initial post, the band still was selling records with that awful album 'The Spaghetti Incident' which a lot of people have forgotten about by now but it debuted at #4 on the chart, and that was after all the flannel T-shirt wearing grunge bands took over. 

       

      Quote

      Nikki Sixx's self titled album Motley Crue sucked while their fired lead singer Vince Neil's Exposed record showed what a huge mistake their self absorbed bassist made. That always makes me laugh. Nikki thought he was so high & mighty & then look whose sales crashed & burned while Vince's skyrocketed. I roared over that fiasco. LOL! Serves you right Nikki. 

       

       

      It's funny that Motley Crue had an album without Vince Neil that debuted in the top 10 on the charts, and it was during 1994 which was the year that Nine Inch Nails 'Downward Spiral' was on the charts and Grunge was still in it's prime. Just goes to show that Grunge was beginning to fizzle out almost as fast as it took over. 

       

      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. 

       

       

      Heavy Metal was in a dark place during the early to mid 90's. If you were a Metal head back then, it was a rough period - 

       

      Judas Priest disbanded after releasing the album 'Painkiller'. That album was a return to form for them after disappointing hair metal albums. When the band broke up, many fans began to refer to Painkiller as a sorta "last hurrah" from the band. Losing Priest after such a great album was tough. 

       

      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. 

       

      Sepultura released the album 'Chaos A.D.' in 1993, which was a great Metal album...then followed it up by releasing 'Roots' which had a new, Korn-inspired 'Nu-Metal' sound to it and was awful. What once was a great Thrash band had been destroyed. Roots sold millions though...depressing to think about because now 20+ years later, Chaos A.D. still sounds great. I don't have it in me to torture myself trying to listen to 'Roots' again. 

       

       

      I don't miss the 90's at all. It was a pretty terrible era for being a metal head, which I was a hardcore Metal head back in my youth and teenage days. 

    4. southwest1

      southwest1

      ["I saw WASP many, many years back in the early 2000's play in NOLA and they were great.

       

      A lot of Metal bands on foreign and UK based labels did pretty good during the 90's thanks to their activity in Europe and outside of America. The bands on RoadRunner Records come to mind. 

       

      What Blackie did was very smart. Over in Europe and especially the Scandinavian countries, there are still thriving Metal scenes over there to this day." ]

       

      This is why I enjoy reading your insights Bogie because you understand quality record labels, established frontmen, & you grasp when bands like WASP were ahead of the curve when they gained momentum in say 86-89 & by the 2000's & beyond they generated a frenzied, cult following in Spain & Germany in particular as well as Portugal which kept them thriving overseas when the presence of metal in North America experienced a prolonged lull. I still buy WASP albums on Amazon today & the caliber of Blackie's material is still top tier today. 

       

      Blackie, a proud Apache Indian, never gets enough credit for his marketing prowess or the sophistication of his records in the music business for over 3 decades. He's really a deep thinker in interviews too regarding politics, the environment, & the struggle to get a fair shake in this world as a blue collar person without inherited family wealth. 

       

      Blackie also performs solid covers too. His "Mississippi Queen" originally done by Mountain is quite good. In addition, his version of "Easy Living" originally done by Uriah Heep was very well done. 

       

       

       

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