Top 20 American Classic Rock Bands of the 80s

During the 80s, much of the best rock music produced came from the United States, and we pay homage to the best of them with our look at the 20 best American classic rock bands of the 80s.

The 80s proved to be a period of massive rock dominance, with hair metal, glam rock and new wave opening doors for new artists, while further inspiring established artists. Technology also played a major role in the formation of rock, as the experimentation with electronic keyboards that first bore fruit in the 70s expanded as digital synthesizers, programmable drum machines and sequencers became commonplace, and that guitar-based artists have sought to incorporate them into their sound.

Narrowing our list down to just 20 bands was tough, especially given the abundance of worthy nominees. For the purposes of this exercise, bands were graded solely on the work they delivered between 1980 and 1989. We look at how they met the unique artistic and business challenges the 80s presented them.

Solo artists were excluded, meaning Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel and many other vaunted stars are missing from our list, as are bands with multinational lineups, like Fleetwood Mac and Foreigner (although a exception was made to one group due to an American being the only constant member). In the end, we came up with an impressive collection of bands from all over the era. Naturally, many big names made the cut, including Guns n’ Roses, Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. Read on to see exactly where they landed in our list of the best American classic rock bands of the 80s.

Virginia F. Goins