33 Photos Every ’80s Metalhead Will Appreciate

Published July 5, 2017
Updated December 10, 2020

From Van Halen to Metallica, these outrageous '80s metal photos capture rock's great era of excess in all its garish glory.

80s Metal Def Leppard
Def LeppardMichael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

80s Metal Motorhead
Motorhead pose with pistols in London.Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns/Getty Images

Metallica In The Early 1980s
Metallica. 1984.Pete Cronin/Redferns/Getty Images

Van Halen
Members of Van Halen drink beer and look at porn on their tour bus.Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

Slash Snake
Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash poses with his pet snake, Clyde, in Los Angeles. 1984. Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Twisted Sister
Jay Jay French (left) and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister perform at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. 1980.Waring Abbott/Getty Images

James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett of Metallica on stage. 1984.Pete Cronin/Redferns/Getty Images

Iron Maiden Fans
Iron Maiden concertgoers at London's Lyceum on February 10, 1980.Virginia Turbett/Redferns/Getty Images

Quiet Riot
Quiet Riot perform onstage in Los Angeles on October 14, 1982.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Slayer Photo
Slayer. 1985.Tony Mottram/Getty Images

Ratt 1989
Robbin Crosby (left) and Stephen Pearcy of Ratt during the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

Guns N Roses Ucla
When Guns n' Roses first played "Welcome To The Jungle," they were performing at a UCLA frat party in July of 1985. They were compensated with $30 and all the beer they could drink.

David Lee Roth
Van Halen singer David Lee Roth practices boxing in silver gloves. Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

AC/DC Crowd
AC/DC fans get ready for the concert to start on October 18, 1985, at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Motley Crue
Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil on stage in Toronto. 1985.Mike Slaughter/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Twisted Sister Stalls
Twisted Sister pose in the women's bathroom at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. 1980. Waring Abbott/Getty Images

Vintage Metallica Photo
Metallica. 1985.Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

Long Hair
Iron Maiden performs at the Holiday Star Theater in Merrillville, Indiana on May 25, 1982.Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Tight Outfits
Rox poses in London. 1983.Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

Dave Sickle
David Lee Roth of Van Halen goofs around backstage with his "Davesickle" guitar at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan on July 4, 1980. Michael Marks/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Axl Rose Belt
Guns N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose performs at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, California. 1988. Kari Rene Hall/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Exodus Performing
Exodus performs at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on December 5, 1987.Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Motley Crue
In December 1987, after years of rock history's most infamously wild partying, Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin and was declared legally dead. After pulling through and getting out of the hospital, he went back home, noticed the blood stains on the wall from sprays while injecting, and then promptly shot up again -- and then wrote a hit song about it.

Fans Rocking Out
Fans enjoy an Iron Maiden concert at the Lyceum in London on February 10, 1980.Virginia Turbett/Redferns/Getty Images


Poison In Concert
Poison performs at New York's Madison Square Garden on March 20, 1987.Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images

Metallica Band
Metallica. 1983.Wikimedia Commons

Def Leppard
Def LeppardChris Walter/WireImage/Getty Images

Ratt Survivor
Members of Ratt and Survivor backstage in New York. 1985.Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images

Anthrax Waring Abbott/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

David Coverdale performs with Whitesnake. 1980.Virginia Turbett/Redferns

Graeme Crallan
British drummer Graeme "Crash" Crallan poses across the laps of the band Panama at the British Music Fair on July 26, 1988. Tony Mottram/Getty Images

80s Metal WASP
W.A.S.P.Wikimedia Commons

Night Ranger
Night Ranger performs in Chicago on August 5, 1985. Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Ozzy Osbourne fans cheer in Copenhagen, Denmark. 1983.Jorgen Angel/Redferns/Getty Images

Stryper Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Many rock snobs often look down upon the music of the 1980s. This was the decade when hard rock turned into heavy metal, which itself gave way to hair metal. By that point, many believe, music became less about the music and more about showmanship and image.

But for those who live for showmanship, energy, and outsized personalities, this era remains unbeatable. Indeed, '80s metal was over the top in the best of ways, exaggerating rock tropes to the extreme as bands like Metallica and Def Leppard played enormous stadium shows with elaborate stage setups to match.

From those bands to Van Halen, Guns N' Roses, and beyond, here are some of the most outrageous vintage photos from the one-of-a-kind heyday of '80s metal.

After this look at '80s metal, check out 27 raw images from when punk ruled New York in the 1970s and 1980s. Then, have a look at eye-popping photos from the 1990s rave scene at its zenith.

Gabe Paoletti
Gabe Paoletti is a New York City-based writer and a former Editorial Intern at All That's Interesting. He holds a Bachelor's in English from Fordham University.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Paoletti, Gabe. "33 Photos Every ’80s Metalhead Will Appreciate." AllThatsInteresting.com, July 5, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/80s-metal. Accessed April 21, 2024.