Coming up with a list of the “best” rock bands in the 80s can be a very contentious topic. After all, it’s highly subjective. But assessing the “top” rock bands should be easier. After all, some rock bands were simply more popular than others.
The #1 rock band of the 80s wasn’t from the US, and they weren’t from the UK either. They were an Irish band from Dublin.
They started getting a lot of attention when they released their third album War, which included “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. This was the album that replaced Thriller from the top of the UK charts, and it reached #12 in the US Charts.
These guys started out in the 70s as a reggae band, but they transformed themselves into a rock band by the 1980s. Their 6th album, Synchronicity, became one of the bestselling albums of all time, and it cemented their position as one of the top rock bands of the decade—even though the band broke up in 1986. This album sold 8 million copies just in the US, and the band sold more than 75 million albums in the world.
It was their single “Jump” in the album 1984 which started it all, and which catapulted David Lee Roth and Van Halen to worldwide fame. The band actually started back in the early 1970s, but it was the release of 1984 that truly changed things. This album sold more than 12 million copies just in the US, and the band has sold more than 80 million albums.
Led by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, this band has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. Their worldwide success was due to the third album Slippery When Wet which contained the #1 hits “Living on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name”.
GNR was formed in 1985, and they quickly became a sensation. Led by Axl Rose and Slash, their first album Appetite for Destruction was a smash hit in 1987, and it sold 18 million copies in the US and 28 million worldwide. It was the bestselling debut album of all time in the US. Although the next album would be part of the 90s, with Appetite for Destruction GNR established itself as one of the top rock bands of the 1980s.