With origins from the UK, glam rock became popular in the early 1970s. Performances from glam rock groups were known to be spectacular, with band members wearing outrageous makeup and clothing.
This flashy, glittery genre of rock music was all about high-energy performances and wild parties. If there’s one thing that glam rock bands know how to do, it is work the stage.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at 13 of the most famous glam rock bands that have had a significant impact on the music scene. Let’s get started.
A great group to start our list is with the legendary band Queen, who formed in London in 1971. They soon became famous for the dazzling performances of their lead singer Freddie Mercury.
Their third album, Sheer Heart Attack, released in 1974, found international success. This was followed by A Night at the Opera, which had the lead single “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of Queen’s most popular and enduring songs.
Even if you aren’t a glam rock fan, you will certainly recognize their other massive hits “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You.” These songs could be heard played at sporting events.
Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, and Queen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. They influenced society in ways that went far beyond just their music, and they crossed boundaries regarding sports, clothes, and popular culture.
Up next, we have T.Rex, a band started by Marc Bolan in 1967. Their music had a folk rock sound that soon garnered a strong following. Bolan, a talented guitarist and singer, was responsible for the unique sound.
T.Rex was most famous in Britain after several top-ten hits and four singles that made it to #1, especially their 1971 album Electric Warrior. This period was called T.Rextasy and had pop fans going wild for their music.
Electric Warrior contained the band’s most popular song in the UK at that time, “Get It On,” while in America, fans enjoyed another of the group’s hit, “Bang a Gong (Get It On),” which was also in the album.
T. Rex had a strong following until Bolan’s passing in 1977, though their music has continued to influence the hard rock, punk, new wave, and alternative genres of music.
3. Mott the Hoople
Another British band influential in the glam rock genre is Mott the Hoople. The group was initially known as the Doc Thomas Group, formed in 1968 by Ian Hunter with other members Mick Ralphs, Stan Tippins, and Pete Overend Watts.
They are best known for “All the Young Dudes,” written by no other than David Bowie. This song was an international hit and was featured in comedy films Clueless and Juno, to name a few.
Mott the Hoople was famous for its live act. They recorded four albums during their short time together. When Hunter left the band in 1974, they shortened their name to Mott and released two albums before disbanding in 1980.
4. Roxy Music
Our next group, Roxy Music is no doubt one of the pioneers of glam rock. The band was born from the passion of Brian Ferry in 1970, who formed the group along with Graham Simpson, Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, and Paul Thompson.
Their first two albums of unique, hard-charging art rock found success in Britain. They gained additional success in the United States with their hit “Love Was the Drug” in 1975.
This band was famous in the late 1970s and 1980s and only became more beloved with their final album Avalon (1982). They retired for a while but reunited in 2001 and performed together for the next ten years.
Roxy Music was introduced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Their influence has spanned decades, and artists respect their extraordinary visual and sound style from other genres.
Another influential glam rock band of the ’70s is Slade. Some of their singles were among the most loved of the decade. Their most famous hit, “Merry Xmas Everybody,” has sold over a million copies, and no other band dominated the charts as consistently as they did.
They had a short period where their popularity faded until the moment they replaced Ozzy Osbourne in the 1980 Reading Festival, reawakening their legions of fans.
After their reemergence, Slade targeted the heavy-metal scene and soon found success in the American market with their hits “Run Runaway” and “My Oh My” in 1984.
The original band split up in 1992 but was reformed later in the year and was renamed Slade II.
6. New York Dolls
American band New York Dolls were formed in 1971. Notorious for wearing women’s makeup and outrageously colorful clothing, they soon gained attention for dazzling performances.
The Dolls have had a lasting influence on a new generation of bands. They were famous for revitalizing the New York music scene in the 1970s, introducing a glam rock style that no one had seen before.
They released two albums in the 1970s, which found a loyal following, and “Personality Crisis” is the song that all glam rock followers will know.
However, the band’s notoriety came more from their drug-induced performances. The group fell apart due to substance abuse issues, but their first two albums significantly impacted future artists.
British band Wizzard was formed by Roy Wood in 1972. The octet first played at Wembley Rock and Rock Festival and soon dominated the airwaves with the “Ball Park Incident.”
Their performances consisted of Wood and his bandmates heavily made up in war paint and sporting colorful costumes. Their signature big hair contributed to their reputation as one of the most visually unique performances.
Their most famous song was “See My Baby Jive,” and their Christmas single “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” became an annual tradition for British radio and television.
Wizzard disbanded in 1975, but their influence on performances continues.
8. The Sweet
After coming together in 1968, the Sweet soon after had their first hit, “Funny Funny.” They progressed from a lighter music to a more hard-rock style.
The group had dominated the charts in the 1970s with thirteen top 20 hits and sold over 50 million records before the band broke up in 1979. They are best known for their song “Wig Wam Bam.”
The Sweet is remembered for their glamorous outfits on and off the stage. They are famous for their platform boots, glitter, and over-the-top makeup.
Brian Connolly, their lead vocalist, left the band in 1979, and sadly, the band could not recover. By this time, however, they had already influenced bands such as Kiss, Def Leppard, and next on the list, Mötley Crue.
9. Motley Crüe
Los Angeles-based Mötley Crüe formed in 1981. From the beginning, they focused on producing heavy metal music.
The band joined the glam rock wave with the release of their third album, Theatre of Pain in 1985 and became famous for their extraordinary live performances, which often included spectacular pyrotechnics.
Dr. Feelgood, their one, and only album to reach #1, was released in 1989. The lead single of the same name is also their highest-ranked song. Mötley Crüe has since sold over a million records and is still going strong.
With their outlandish behavior, they influenced their fans to be wild and carefree, and their crazy hairstyles and unique fashion sense set the tone for the 1980’s culture.
10. Def Leppard
British rock band Def Leppard began their musical careers in 1977 as heavy metal rockers. They soon entered the world of glam heavy metal because of their commercial success and electrifying performances.
By the late ’80s, the band had already become famous, but the release of their album Hysteria in 1987 took the charts by storm, having over 12 million sales in the US alone. It contained their signature song, “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
The album that followed in 1992, Adrenalize was also not something to mock. It was another chart-topping, three-times Platinum hit.
In total, Def Leppard has sold over 100 million albums all over the world, making them one of the best best-selling artists, leading to their introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
Rikki Rockett and Bret Michaels formed Poison in Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. They recorded their first album in 1986, entitled Look What the Cat Dragged in. Due to the hit song “Talk Dirty to Me,” the album became highly successful.
They were at the height of their popularity from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. Their second and third album—Open Up and Say… Ahh! and Flesh & Blood—peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts, both becoming multi-Platinum.
Poison had several lineup changes over the last thirty years but consistently produced music reaching the top of the charts. Their glam looks have always remained at the forefront of their performances.
Well-known for their highly elaborate, smoke- and pyrotechnic-filled performances, Kiss started as a band in New York in 1973. The band members’ extraordinary appearance is also not something one forgets—they created comic-book character personas, complete with face paint and costumes.
Early in 1975, they dropped the album Dressed to Kill. While not a complete commercial success, it contained their signature song, “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
Their rise to fame came in the form of Alive!, their first live album, later that year. It peaked at #9 on Billboard 200. The following year, they released two more hit albums, Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun.
Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 with 20 studio albums and 60 singles under their belt and a highly influential legacy to show the world.
Two bands coming together in 1970 resulted in the birth of the legendary band Aerosmith, often referred to as the bad boys of Boston.
Success was in their name from their self-titled debut album, but their third album, Toys in the Attic, in 1975 shot the group into superstardom. This album was a booming success and showed fans that this band had a unique sound.
Aerosmith is best known for their #1 hit “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing,” from the 1998 movie Armageddon, which also starred lead singer Steven Tyler’s daughter, Liv.
With 12 multi-Platinum certifications and over 150 million sales, Aerosmith became a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. To date, the band is still active.
Summing Up Our List Of Glam Rock Bands
From the above, it is obvious that glam rock bands have had a significant influence on the presentation of music. Audiences have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to their performances.
Regardless of their music, the stage presence of glam rock bands will stun and awe even the most experienced of fans.
Have we left of a favorite glam rock band of yours? If so, let us know, and we’ll add them!