Posted by baselanabtawi
Ah yes, the 80’s. The decade where hairspray had the same effects on the Ozone layer as the BP oilspill had on the gulf of Mexico. But that’s not what it’s all about; it’s about all the milestones in music history that took place. Many people hail the 70’s or the 60’s as the most important, but the decade that was the 1980’s was probably the most awesome decade in music history – and when I say awesome, I mean eventful with jaw dropping events. Now now, before you jump onto the bandwagon of judgment and condemnation, let me explain to you as to why this is the truth.
When I refer to the 80’s, I am certainly not referring to bands like Warrant, Poison, Petshop Boys or Tears for Fears (although lets all admit, some of these guys had some pretty catchy tunes. Sweet-Cherry Pieee, oh yeahhh). I am referring to the cross roads of musical legends. I’m talking about McCartney and Lennon, Iron Maiden and Saxon, Metallica and Megadeth, Guns n’ Roses and Queen, Zeppelin and Floyd. Nirvana and Alice in Chains. Imagine living in a decade when all these artists where active (or alive), performing, touring and writing. Forget what was popular, and look at what was real.
John Lennon was alive. For the best part of 1980 .. Lennon was alive. Say that again, Lennon was alive! It just sounds like the world was a better place already, doesn’t it? And what a wonderful time it was to be a Lennon fan, he had just emerged from retirement to release a couple of singles (“Hey, heard the new Lennon song?” ..we can never say that now), a possible tour and you never know, had he lived on -perhaps an album. A world with John Lennon was certainly a more hopeful world. John Lennon was shot in December of 1980 by that a-hole Mark Chapman. This was considered one of the biggest losses (if not the biggest loss) in music history.
That wasn’t the only death that year, ACDC mainman Bon Scott also lost his life in 1980 after a session of alcohol abuse. The boys future was never in doubt though, the band was reborn in the form of Brian Johnson, who also joined later that year – AacaDaca (as they’re known in their home town) would have a long prosperous career with a huge catalogue of great Rock n’ Roll hits such as ‘For those about to Rock, we salute you’ … a phrase that would be used in so many rock occasions to come.
But hold on, who was that kid who replaced the Iron Maiden singer the following year? Bruce Dickenson joined the up-and-coming heavy metal outfit early on in the decade where he co-wrote some of the biggest metal anthems of our time. New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was the scene Maiden ruled, and although it wasn’t very new by the time the 80’s rolled around, it still inspired the Bay Area scene that produced a handful of music titans.
Bay Area!! Rise … Rise! The most vicious music scene in history. To put this in perspective: the bands we know today as the ‘Big Four of thrash’ only started out as 4 bands that played in their parents garage, barely made ends meet, and developed the biggest underground metal scene that ever existed. The scene produced giants like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. On top of that, James Hetfeild and Lars Ulrich, used to be good friends with Dave Mustaine .. hard to believe, eh? Can you imagine a time where you could see the ‘No Life till leather’ lineup of Metallica? How about the fact that Kirk Hammet played for Exodus? or the fact that alot of people got to experience those mammoth albums first hand. Picture yourself in a denim jacket waiting for the doors of Tower Records to open in order to pick up your first copy of the new Metallica album, Master of Puppets. Legendary bassist Cliff Burton, the man who had as much weight in Metallica as James and Lars did, was alive! Prior to the release of Kill em’ All in 1983, Metallica had booted out Dave Mustaine from their band; this resulted in what would become “the 25 year feud” between both parties. Mustaine went on to establish a band with his neighbor at the time, Ellefson was his name, and bass was certainly his game – Megadeth was established – a band so ferocious and hungry, it created an army of followers.
But it aint just about metal …Michael Jackson, the King of Pop! He reigned supreme! releasing classic pop albums like Thriller, Bad and Off the wall. This man touched more people than any other artist in history (hey, I did not mean it that way). The fact is, MJ influenced so many individuals that no other artist ever came close to his might. The 80’s saw him become a massive star, beyond any proportions we can even fathom – Many classics were released that became timeless and eternally relevant.
Shifting gears – early 80s, the classic Pink Floyd still played together until the infamous trial that took place that decade which resulted in Roger Waters exiting Floyd (taking all ‘The Wall’ rights with him) and Gilmour keeping the band and bringing back Rick Wright to the fold. This “Gilmour led era” went on to release ‘A momentary lapse of reason’ and the live ‘Delicate Sounds of Thunder’ … now, pause for a minute and take this in. the 80’s had two eras of Pink Floyd, the classic ‘Wall’ lineup where Waters and Gilmour played in harmony. And then you got the revamped era that was led by Sir David Gilmour, who gracefully retired the name in the mid 90’s.
Led Zeppelin … who are they? just the founders of modern rock! Yes their time was very short-lived in the 80s, but it was there nevertheless. The Zep embarked on a mini-european tour in July-June 1980 where they played a stripped down acoustic set. Nothing too fancy. Page and Co. where actually in the process of rehearsing for a major North American tour before John Bonham passed away in the midst of rehearsals. Another Rock legend was lost to alcohol. Can you picture being there, the devastation the fans must have felt when Bonham passed, and the bigger blow when Led Zeppelin announced they were ending their tenure as a band.
How can one speak of the 80’s scene and not mention Queen? Queen where simply awesome! Rock stars that gave Rolling Stone magazine a reason to exist – Not to mention Freddie friggin’ Mercury was alive and kickin’. Queen where one of the first bands to play the larger-than-life Rock in Rio festival in Rio, Brazil. Those crazy bastards played to over 600,000 people that weekend, 600K! Thats a lot of people my friends! in 1985, Queen played one of the most memorable performances in Rock n’ Roll history … Live Aid. Their sales shot up so high they had to release a single ‘One Vision’ to cash in.
By the time the 80’s was reaching its end, 1988 saw the appetite for destruction grow beyond anyones control. This destruction gave us what is considered a Rock n’ Roll phenomenon – Guns n’ Roses. Imagine experiencing the release of the debut album and seeing the classic lineup, Axl/Slash/Izzy/Adler/Duff! A band so ‘rockin’ it earned them the title “the most dangerous band in Rock n’ Roll”. Appetite For Destruction sold over 15 Million copies. As far as I’m concerned, GnR were the last classic rock band to ever attain legendary status.
The 80’s was concluded with the formation of what would become the ‘next-big-thing’. The grunge scene of Seattle, started in the late 80’s with the formation of Nirvana, Sound Garden and Alice in Chains. But since the impact of these bands would only take effect in the 90’s, we’d leave that discussion for another day.
Ahhh yes, the 80s! it was truly a crossroads for all musical eras, and for most music legends. Being around in these years meant you’ve seen the best, while they were at their best. While they still meant what they were doing.
It is truly unfortunate that many of these icons have lost their lives too soon, either due to accidents or just lack of awareness. I hope their legacy keeps inspiring up-and-coming musicians, and their tragedies teach future icons to stay clear of what may put an end to what could be a glorious career.
On the eve of 1990, as ‘Tears for Fears’ combusted into thin air, and the dust from all the mayhem has settled; People around the world never knew that they would never experience such an era in music, ever again.