Big Hair and Loud Guitars: Why these bands should’ve been arena headliners


Mike Singer

Hair metal was a genre of ’80s rock that took over the rock world by storm and produced bands that have headlined all over the world, in front of millions of fans and some of the world’s biggest arenas.

You might remember bands like Guns N’ Roses, Poison, Motley Crue, and Bon Jovi but there are so many other great bands that came out of the ’80s that deserve a lot more recognition and should have been up there in the conversation with the bands mentioned above.

Enuff Z’Nuff:

I have mentioned these Blue Island, Illinois natives before but I’ll be more than happy to talk about them again.

This band, since their debut in 1989, towards the end of the hair metal heyday brought power pop-infused rock to the hair metal scene.

The band’s two co-founders, Donnie Vie and Chip Z’Nuff brought their John Lennon/Paul McCartney style of songwriting to pen two Billboard Hot 100 songs that helped define a decade.

The two previously mentioned songs, “New Thing,” and “Fly High Michelle,” were featured on the band’s debut record.

The two follow-up records to their debut, 1991’s “Strength,” and 1993’s “Animals with Human Intelligence,” featured such strong songs like “Baby Loves You,” “Hollywood Ya,” “One Step Closer,” and the power ballad “Right by Your Side,” should have propelled this band into the same conversation as Motley Crue and Poison.

In-band drug issues, members leaving and a few wrong decisions along the way held this band back and they never got the recognition they deserve yet they have a very strong and loyal following. They recently released a brand new record last year in 2022 titled “Finer Than Sin” and you can find the article here.


This Paramus, New Jersey band burst onto the rock scene in 1990 with their self-titled debut record.

Some of the most notable songs off that debut record include “Heart of Steel,” the ballad “One In a Million,” and my personal favorite “Give It to Me Good.”

Like Enuff Z’Nuff, Trixter came onto the scene towards the tail end of the hair metal scene and started to gain traction as the genre was dying and grunge started to gain traction.

Since 1992, the band has only released three more records, 1992’s “Hear!” 2012’s “New Audio Machine,” and 2015’s “Human Era.”

The band currently is touring as a three-piece with two original members. Guitarist, Steve Brown, and bassist PJ Farley are joined by Ben Hans on the drums as they tour across the country on their “Trixter Acoustic” tour.

I truly believe that this band got their break sooner, along with releasing more than three records after their debut, then they could have been one of the biggest bands in the world, or, at least one of the biggest bands from that era.

Skid Row:

Before we jump into Skid Row, I know what some of you are thinking about them appearing on this list.

Skid Row had their self-titled debut record reach the No. 8 position on the Billboard charts while their follow-up, 1991’s “Slave to the Grind” reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200. 

Yes, Skid Row had two really great records with the last “meh” record being 1995’s “Subhuman Race.” After that, the original singer, Sebastian Bach left the Toms River, New Jersey band to pursue his solo career.

It took Skid Row, 28 years and three records later to have one reach any notable chart position as their most recent record, 2022’s “The Gang’s All Here,” reached the No. 14 position on the Billboard Top Album Sales and reach the No. 19 position on the Billboard US Top Hard Rock Albums. If you’re interested in their latest record, click here.

It’s a shame that Skid Row wasn’t able to hold it together for more than three records. They really were on a high and had three straight records charting above the No. 50 position. I know that there are so many fans that love Skid Row, especially the original group and I think that they could have been considered one of the best bands from that era if they hadn’t fallen apart at the end.


Yes, the “Cherry Pie” guys. That one song does not define them as a band though.

Prior to the smash hit record that reached the No. 7 position on the album charts, their debut record, 1989’s “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” had reached the No. 10 position on the charts.

“Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” was supported by catchy songs like “Down Boys,” and two epic ballads, “Sometimes She Cries,” and “Heaven.” Those three songs alone are a pretty good base to build fans with.

With the edition of “Cherry Pie” two years later, the record included great songs such as “Thin Disguise,” Blind Faith,” and the title track of the record which propelled them into another world.

Even though the record and the single were smash hits, it quickly became the symbol of the band and no one else could name anything else the band did besides “Cherry Pie,” which, in later interviews, former lead singer Jani Lane stated that he hated that song.

Their following three records, 1992’s “Dog Eat Dog,” which ended up being Lane’s last record with the band, 1995’s “Ultraphobic” and 1996’s “Belly to Belly” only charted once. “Dog Eat Dog” appeared at the No. 25 position in the United States and was certified gold.

 While having a smash hit record was a blessing, it was also a curse because, after that record, the band could not do anything without being compared to “Cherry Pie” and they never reached the level of fame as they did during the “Cherry Pie” years and couldn’t hold onto that fame before falling off. It’s unfortunate from a fan’s perspective too because we fans never got a reunion with Lane in Warrant before his untimely death in 2011.


These Philadelphia, Pennsylvania rockers had a ten-year run that saw the band release four spectacular records. Not every band can say that they released four records with three of them positioned in the top 20.

Their debut record, “Night Songs” was released in 1986 and reached the No. 3 position with the help of powerful hard rock songs like the self-named title track, “Somebody Save Me,” “Shake Me” and the ballad “Nobody’s Fool.”

Two years later Cinderella quickly released their sophomore record, “Long Cold Winter,” which became a hair metal classic. “Long Cold Winter” reached the No. 10 position on the charts with the support of “Gypsy Road,” “Coming Home,” and power ballad smash hit, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).”

To follow up their second record, in 1990 they released “Heartbreak Station” which was positioned at No. 19 on the album charts following its release. Some of my favorite songs from this record are “The More Things Change,” “Shelter Me,” and the title track.

What makes Cinderella stand out from the previous four mentioned bands was that Cinderella consistently had success for more than a record or two which was the issue for the other groups. 

The issue with Cinderella was that they took a year hiatus in 1995 after their third record “Still Climbing” failed to crack the top 100 on the charts and one year later decided to return but with no studio records recorded. That hiatus completely derailed any momentum the band had and hurt them in the long run

Following the hiatus, the band returned, had issues with record labels, and eventually, the lead singer, Tom Keifer needed surgery on his left vocal chord which didn’t help either. The band played their final show in 2014 aboard the Monster of Rock cruise and called it a day.

It’s a shame that Cinderella took a hiatus which hindered their success and they quit never got behind the eight ball again and were one step behind for the rest of their career.

All in all, these five bands were some of the biggest acts during the hair metal days but never could hold onto their success or even gain enough success to push forward. As much of a shame as it was, they ultimately deserved to be in the conversation of some of the biggest acts of the ’80s but never got their chance.