13 Amazing Bands Similar To Van Halen

Written by Dan Farrant

When it comes to hard rock and guitar-driven sound, few bands can rival the legendary Van Halen. Formed in Pasadena, California, in 1973, they’ve delivered 13 chart-topping hits on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart and inspired countless musicians with their unparalleled guitar solos.

So, if you love Van Halen and want to find some similar artists, who should you check out? Well, in this post, we’ve compiled a list of 13 amazing bands like Van Halen that capture the essence of classic rock and hair metal glory days. Ready to learn who they are? Let’s get started.

1. Aerosmith

The renowned American rock band Aerosmith emerged from Boston in 1970 and quickly gained fame with their sound—a blend of hard rock and heavy metal. Fans of Van Halen will certainly appreciate this music group, as both bands share similarities in musical style and performance.

In a career that has lasted over 50 years, Aerosmith has released dozens of charting albums and hit songs. Notable among these are “Real Emotion,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Cryin’,” “Crazy,” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

Awards and accolades are not unfamiliar to the group too. They’ve since garnered 34 awards from various awarding organizations, including #1 Rock Artist from Billboard Music Awards in 1994.

Aerosmith has experienced numerous lineup changes involving various band members throughout its long-lasting career. However, today’s formation remains steadfast, with Steven Tyler as lead vocalist and Joe Perry on guitar.

2. Guns N’ Roses

Established in 1985, Guns N’ Roses quickly became a dominant force in the American music industry with their hard rock sound, like Van Halen. Hailing from Los Angeles, their music earned them 13 songs on Billboard‘s Hot 100 list, making them one of the most successful bands.

Standout albums from the band are their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, and Use Your Illusion I and II. These three shot straight to the top of Billboard 200 and gained Diamond and multi-Platinum statuses.

Guns N’ Roses gained fame for their explosive sound and impressive run on the Los Angeles music scene before hitting it big nationwide. Their blend of genre influences—ranging from punk rock to nu-metal—set them apart from other rock and roll bands during an era when many artists struggled to stand out.

3. AC/DC

Up next, we have the Australian rock band AC/DC, whose hard rock and heavy metal–influenced sound is reminiscent of Van Halen’s. The group was formed in Sydney back in 1973 by the talented Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young.

AC/DC gained international recognition with their album Highway to Hell in 1979. The title track gained recognition for being the Most Played Australian Work Overseas.

However, tragedy struck the band when their lead vocalist, Bon Scott, soon after the release of Highway to Hell. Despite this devastating loss, AC/DC chose to continue and found a new lead vocalist, Brian Johnson.

In 1980, AC/DC released their landmark album Back in Black, which became one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling over 50 million copies. The album’s success solidified AC/DC’s place in rock music history and introduced Johnson’s powerful vocals to the world.

4. Bon Jovi

Like Van Halen, Bon Jovi is a name that has become synonymous with hard rock music. Formed in 1983, the band quickly became one of their genre’s biggest and most enduring acts.

Formed in Sayreville, New Jersey, in 1983, the band was named after its founder and lead vocalist, Jon Bon Jovi, who is known for his powerful voice and energetic stage presence.

Bon Jovi‘s career has lasted four decades, and during that time, they’ve released 15 studio albums and 66 singles. Many of these songs topped charts, like “Always,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “It’s My Life,” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

Over the years, some of the members, Jon Bon Jovi included, have ventured into solo work as side projects; however, the band continues to perform and release music to this day.

5. Def Leppard

British rock band Def Leppard rose to fame in the 1980s with their catchy, pop-infused hard rock sound. Although often associated with the heavy metal genre, frontman Joe Elliot has stated that Def Leppard is not a heavy-metal band.

With the band’s powerful vocals and memorable guitar riffs, it’s no surprise that Van Halen heavily influenced Def Leppard. Both bands share similar musical roots in classic rock.

In 1983, Def Leppard achieved commercial success with their third album, Pyromania. “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Foolin'”—hit songs from the album—helped define their signature sound.

Def Leppard faced setbacks when drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car accident. However, they persisted by adopting new technologies to support Allen’s situation. His remarkable return with a custom drum kit highlighted the band’s resilience and determination.

6. Journey

Hailing from San Francisco, classic rock band Journey formed in 1973. They made their mark with chart-topping hits such as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which has become an anthem for many since its release in 1981.

They followed this up a year later with the beautiful ballad “Open Arms.” The song was a Billboard hit, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 chart.

Journey’s success did not come without its challenges. Like Van Halen, they experienced internal conflicts among band members over creative differences and financial disputes.

The departure of longtime lead singer Steve Perry in 1998 sparked concerns among fans about the band’s future. However, Journey carried on with Arnel Pineda as their lead vocalist since 2007, and they continue to perform live shows today.

7. Whitesnake

Formed in 1978 by former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale, Whitesnake is a British rock band recognized for their blues-infused hard rock sound. Their music has garnered success both in the UK and on the international stage.

The group gained popularity during the early 1980s, especially with their self-titled album, which featured the hit singles “Here I Go Again,” “Still of the Night,” and “Is This Love.”

Though their music was partly influenced by blues musicians, like The Allman Brothers Band and the Yardbirds, Whitesnake’s style has often been compared to Van Halen’s because of their blend of hard rock and heavy metal sounds.

Whitesnake has had breaks over the course of their career—1990, 1994, and 1997—nevertheless, they have maintained a strong following. Since their latest reformation in 2003, they have continued to release albums, the last being Flesh & Blood in 2019.

8. Scorpions

Our next band has been active in the music industry for over 55 years—the German rock band Scorpions. With sales of over 100 million worldwide, they are among the best-selling bands in music history, alongside Van Halen.

Though the Scorpions debuted in 1972 with Lonesome Crow, their breakthrough didn’t come until seven years later with Lovedrive. From here on, they continuously released charting works.

Their greatest album is Crazy World (1990), which features their highest-charting single, “Wind of Change.” The power ballad topped not just the German Entertainment chart but in many European countries too.

Now, 58 years since their inception, Scorpions are still going strong. Rock Believer, their latest release in 2022, landed at #2 on the German chart, a testament to their enduring popularity and musical prowess.

9. Mötley Crüe

Another popular band sharing similarities with Van Halen’s heavy metal and hard rock sound is Mötley Crüe. They formed in Hollywood, California, in 1981.

During the 1980s, Mötley Crüe achieved commercial success with albums like Shout at the Devil and Dr. Feelgood. These records featured hit songs such as “Dr. Feelgood,” “Without You,” and “Looks That Kill.”

Mötley Crüe’s image was as notorious as their music. They were known for their outrageous and often controversial behavior, which included excessive partying, wild stage antics, and a hedonistic lifestyle. They became synonymous with the excesses of the rock-and-roll culture during that era.

Despite this and internal conflicts and lineup changes over the years, Mötley Crüe has maintained a dedicated fan base. Their music continues to be appreciated by those who love their energy and rebellious approach.

10. Tesla

American rock band Tesla formed in Sacramento, California, back in 1984. They started as a cover band playing music from popular groups like Van Halen. However, they soon began to gain popularity with their original compositions, such as “Love Song” and “Modern Day Cowboy.”

Tesla’s music style, which blends heavy metal and classic rock genres, has been compared to Van Halen and other bands from the same era.

The band’s breakthrough came with the release of their hit song “Love Song” in 1989, which received extensive radio airplay and catapulted them into the mainstream. The success of subsequent high-charting tracks, like “Signs” and “What You Give,” further solidified their popularity.

Tesla went on hiatus in 1996, coming back together in 2000. Since then, they’ve been rocking fans with new work songs and albums.

11. Dokken

Also, a hard rock, and heavy metal band, Dokken has been around since 1978 and hails from the same Los Angeles music scene as Van Halen.

Following the release of their debut album, Breaking the Chains, in 1981, Dokken went on to provide fans with many more albums to fill their playlists. Notable are Tooth and Nail, Under Lock and Key, and Back for the Attack—all Platinum hits.

Songs of theirs that have also gained attention—and might interest Van Halen fans exploring new music—are “Into the Fire,” “In My Dreams,” “Alone Again,” and “Burning Like a Flame.”

Throughout their career, Dokken took a few breaks, coming back together with a new lineup. The band is still active currently, with found Don Dokken, the remaining original member.

12. Ratt

Emerging in the 1980s as part of the glam metal movement, Ratt quickly made a name for themselves. Consisting of Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini, Robbin Crosby, Juan Croucier, and Bobby Blotzer, they crafted a sound that blended hard rock with the glitz and glam of the era.

Ratt is known for their breakthrough album, Out of the Cellar, released in 1984. It spawned the hit singles “Lay It Down” and “Round and Round,” which became staples of their discography.

Like Van Halen, Ratt exemplified the glam metal sound of the 1980s. They created catchy songs and delivered energetic performances that defined the era. Their music was filled with memorable melodies and powerful guitar-driven rock, making them influential figures in the genre.

13. Cinderella

Hailing from Philadelphia, Cinderella was a rock band that rose to prominence in the 1980s alongside Van Halen. Led by vocalist Tom Keifer, the band showcased a blend of hard rock and glam metal, characteristic of the era.

“Night Songs” (1986), their debut album, proved to be a major breakthrough for the band. It featured their signature hit, “Nobody’s Fool,” which peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

Further solidifying the band’s popularity are the tracks like “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” and “Shake Me,” which became fan favorites.

While they may not have achieved the same level of commercial success as some of their contemporaries, Cinderella left a lasting impact on the rock music scene of the 1980s.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Van Halen

Whether you’re a die-hard Van Halen fan or simply enjoy the energetic sounds of rock music, we hope that you enjoyed exploring these bands. Each one has something in common with Van Halen but is still distinctively different.

With so many bands with heavy metal, glam rock, and hard rock influences, we might have missed some that’s deserving to be on this list. Let us know who, and we’ll add them here!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.