Best Of Rock: 10 Great Rock N' Roll Moments Of The 1980s

Missing Persons

Granted, for a Vintage Rock guy like me there weren’t that many great rock and roll moments in the pastel print, big hair, MTV-influenced decade of the 1980s. But there were some. Here, then are 10 of my favorites— and believe me it was hard finding 10!

1) Admitting my love for Prince (1984) – The videos I caught of Prince dancing in that “Little Red Corvette” video caught my eye every single time. Even before I saw Purple Rain, I realized he was a musical force to be reckoned with. With Prince just about everywhere in the 80s, I finally had to admit how much I liked his music — and his spinning in those heels.

2) Greg Lake joins Asia (1983) – For all practical purposes (along with a couple of short-term intervals), John Wetton replaced Greg Lake in King Crimson sometime in the early 70s. More to the point, Greg Lake replaced John Wetton in Asia in the early 80s. Imagine how thrilled an old Emerson, Lake and Palmer fan like me was seeing Palmer and Lake together again. I was almost as thrilled as when I saw Lake and Emerson reunite with the late Cozy Powell on drums. Or maybe I was more excited seeing Palmer and Emerson together in 3. One way or another, ELP teased the hell out me in the 80s!

3) Marillion releases 'Script For A Jester’s Tear '(1983) – I was about to give up hearing anything worthwhile in the progressive music field in the 1980s — at least from new bands — when the UK’s Marillion broke out with their first album. I lovingly recall picking this one up at the old Tower Records in NYC after hearing it on the store’s in-house stereo system. Those were the days.

4) Terry Bozzio surfaces in Missing Persons (1980) – Loving the fantastic Mr. Bozzio the minute I saw UK warm up for Jethro Tull on the Stormwatch tour, imagine my delight seeing his new ultra sleek, new wave band fronted by the drummer’s wife, who happened to be a former Playboy bunny.

5) Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” video (1984) – This was new Bruce with new muscles and kind of a new sound. When The Boss plucked the planted, short-haired pre-“Friends” Courtney Cox out of the audience in this video, I thought the time had finally come for my fellow New Jersian.

6) The Milli Vanilli Fiasco (1989) – The group was playing a live show at the Lake Compounce theme park in Connecticut when the vocal backing track got jammed got their hit “Girl You Know It’s True.” Got to give it to Rob and Fab as they tried to keep dancing and singing through it. But the secret was out when All Or Nothing shipped with disclaimer stickers, stating clearly who had really sung on the album. And in 1990, the folks at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences came knocking to take back the Best New Artist Grammy.

Speaking of the out-of-touch Grammys…

7) Jethro Tull wins the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal category (1989) – There’s no disputing the greatness of Ian Anderson and company or denying how stellar their 1987 album Crest Of A Knave is, but winning over Metallica for metal? The category was added to reflect a hipper Grammys, but Tull’s win cast plenty of doubt on what the Grammy members’ definition of “metal” was.

8) Frank Zappa, John Denver and Dee Snider speak out at the PMRC trials (1985) – His manhood obviously in his wife’s palm, green-machine Al Gore followed Tipper and her fellow political wives of the PMRC to spend precious D.C. hours going after rock lyrics. Unfortunately the girls gained enough ground to institute warning stickers on releases with “objectionable” lyrics that are still used today.

9) Yes hits with “Owner Of a Lonely Heart” (1983) – As sad as I was to not see Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe in this incarnation of the band, I can’t deny the power of this single. Trevor Rabin breathed much needed life, the 90125 album was fantastic and the tour kicked ass.

10) The Return of Aerosmith (1985) – Drug addled, member fractured, record company jumping — the boys from Boston were in a sad state of affairs by the 80s. But Joe Perry and Brad Whitford rejoined the band and Aerosmith signed to Geffen, releasing Done With Mirrors, a seriously underrated collection. Perry and Tyler also pitched in on Run DMC’s cover of “Walk This Way,” a huge hit on MTV. The band finished out the 80s with two excellent albums: Permanent Vacation in 1987, followed by Pump in 1989.

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