50 Shades of Mascara: How ‘80’s Rock Never Really Went Away

The History was that the ‘80’s were a good ole rockin’ time until Grunge came along and told ‘80’s hair metal to find a quiet place to die. Now, more than 20 years later, bands like Mötley Crüe are some of the biggest grossing acts out there. How did they rise from the dead? Were they even dead to begin with?


Um. Yeah. That’s what you guys were buying?


Full disclosure

It seems that no matter where I go, bands like Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, and Bret Michaels are constantly inundating me with their songs about how everybody but me is going to get laid. Everyone at the shop that I work at reveres the ‘80’s as the epoch of human civilization, while I can’t even tell you who the hell RATT was.

Even here at TheToneKing.com, we just introduced another member of the TTK Staff, Metal Marion. And, guess what? She loves this stuff! Hell, even the big guy is constantly going nostalgia about how much he loves George Lynch. I’ve met George Lynch. He’s an awesome dude. But, I can’t name a single tune.

Maybe I was too young during the eighties to understand why every guitar player was dipping into their mother’s Mary Kay stash. Glam, Cock Rock, Hair Metal, whatever you want to call it, was an anathema to me. As a young guitarist that spent eight hours a day playing guitar in my room, I just wanted to write songs. And, I wanted to “make it” based on my ability to write good tunes and not how pretty I looked when I borrowed my girlfriend’s rouge.

So, imagine how glad I was when the ‘90’s came around the corner and crushed Cock-Rock under the juggernaut that was…



The great legacy of those fist-pumping tunes slathered in layers of blush and hairspray was ultimately destroyed by flannel and apathy? My first instinct was to celebrate the destruction of my former enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? Quickly, my elation soon gave way to rage when people would ask me to play Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Bush.


Where did the 80’s go?

The short answer: Nowhere. Mötley Crüe, for example, was still considered a working band all through the nineties. Sure, Vince Neil was fired/quit/whatever the band in 1992, and times were tough with poor performing albums with John Corabi as the front man, but the Crüe was still playing.

Vince came back into the picture in 1997 with the release of Generation Swine. The album didn’t do well, and Crüe let their contract with Elektra Records expire.

In ’99, Tommy Lee went off on his own adventure for about 5 years before coming back to release another album, New Tattoo.  After that album bombed, the band went on hiatus in 2001.

After everybody had only found moderate success in other endeavors, the entire band reunited for a reunion tour in 2005 and the compilation album Red, White, & Crüe. Then came Saints of Los Angeles.

Saints of Los Angeles blew up. Debuting at #4 on Billboard and selling almost 99,000 copies in its first week, the title track also earned Mötley Crüe a Grammy nomination for “Best Hard Rock Performance.”

Since then, they’ve pretty much been unstoppable.

In 2012, Mötley Crüe cleared $5,376,272 from album sales and touring, ranking them #38 for the highest paid acts of the year. Not bad for a band that was considered dead 30 years ago.


What about the new bands?

When it comes to rock, there’s only a handful of bands that you will find anywhere near an arena. When you take out the bands that came out in the ‘80’s, that list becomes much smaller. Nickelback has managed world gravelly-voiced world domination and whatever band Mark Tremonti happens to be in at the time seems to do pretty well.


I’m Rich Bitches!!!!!

Motley Crue

Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

But, Poison, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, are all selling big with fans old enough to be my mother and young enough to be my kids simultaneously. Hell, Mötley Crüe just signed up for a 2nd Vegas Residency. Oh, and although they’re not dressed as pretty as they used to be, they still tend to get dolled up.


Of course, Nikki Sixx has said that after Crüe’s next album, they will go out on what will be their farewell tour.

I can’t say that I’ll miss them, but I am amazed that somehow a band managed to survive 30 years after everybody had already called them dead.


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Filed Under: FeaturedCommentary / Editorials


About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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