After going through the 70s, rock had officially reached its true form. Since everything in the 60s was categorized as rock and roll by most people, the entire genre had branched out into the worlds of punk, prog, blues and everything in between. So when we entered the decade of neon colors, the best of the best came in many different shapes and sizes.
Between the introduction of synthesizers and teased hair, many of rock’s biggest bands were showing us how to make it work with just a handful of chords and a mountain of attitude. Granted, that’s not to say the new sounds haven’t been a big help, with some of these artists becoming MTV mainstays to keep up with the changes.
In addition to the new school of bands strutting the Sunset Strip and beyond, we also had the old guard who gave the whole scene a boost and reminded us why they were so badass at the departure. Now that rock was pushing 30, it was safe to say it was more than a passing fad at this point. It was a cultural movement that was about to take over the world once again.
For all the new school bands released in the 80s, most of the traditional bands seemed so outdated in comparison. While some of the genre’s biggest bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica were taking their first steps at the time, most of the Top 40 had to deal with the more forgettable sounds of Air Supply and bands like Led Zeppelin were releasing some of their more forgettable recordings. Then, when MTV stepped in, hard rock had its first real superstar of the decade.
Which is odd considering someone like Billy Idol feels like he came from the 70s school of rock and roll on Rebel Yell. From the spiky hair to the tattered wardrobe, it’s the kind of stuff that was made to get out of punk clubs in England or CBGB. What sets him apart, however, is his raw charisma, working on Steve Stephens’ incredible guitar and drawing inspiration from Mick Jagger rather than Johnny Rotten.
And the guy could sing like no one else. While you can’t call Billy Idol the greatest singer in the world, the kind of scream he lets out every time the chorus comes up is something most other rock singers wish they could do. It was only the early 80s, and it made us hard rockers hungry for more, more, more.