The City of Angels is notorious for its glam metal and debauched metal music scene and it has its roots as far back as the 60s with the likes of The Doors. There’s no denying that metal has changed since the golden age of the 80s, but it’s a scene full of artists that stand the test of time. Even if you don’t enjoy metal music, you likely know of metal legends like Mötley Crüe, Black Sabbath, Guns ‘N’ Roses, and Poison. Wild stories of a lifestyle of drink, drugs, sex, and girls can be found everywhere; just look at Mötley Crüe’s autobiographical film The Dirt.
Now, metal is still strong but the glam lifestyle of the 80s is long forgotten unless you take a look at Steel Panther, a parody metal band that walks the walk of glam rock – a truly fantastic live experience. To get a full overview of the LA metal scene, let’s start at the beginning before journeying through its “death” and immaculate resurgence at the turn of the century.
The Birth of Glam Metal
Glam metal has roots over in Britain during the 70s, with bands like T-Rex celebrating the spectacle of the rock star. This was taken on in full force by bands in Los Angeles, the hometown of Mötley Crüe. They would write songs at their LA home alongside drinking, drugs, and wild parties full of groupies on shifts. Mötley Crüe did their debut live show at Santa Monica Boulevard, not far from the Sunset Strip, and set the precedent for how to glam rock. The movement was much more than the music, it was the outlandish costumes, the party lifestyle, and the degenerate drug use – a time that society has left in the past.
If you’re living in LA today, you can go get your fix of glam metal at the legendary Rock n Roll History Museum. Although you can’t physically experience the scenes of over the top glam of the 80s, there’s nothing to stop you from grabbing a guitar and heading down to Pirate.com Los Angeles music studio, located at Silver Lake and West Adams as well as 50 other locations across the world, and shred out some metal riffs. This Los Angeles music studio offers flexible terms and is open 24/7 so aspiring metalheads can make music whenever the urge strikes.
The Fall of Glam Metal
Glam metal was so popular and rose so tall that it only had one way to go – down. As the 80s dwindled and the 90s kicked in, the scene was full of glam metal bands, all clones of the last. Eventually, it became a bit unambiguous, so the music scene responded by introducing new branches of metal, like thrash metal. Bands like L.A.-born Megadeth, who are one the “the big four”, moved away from the pop sound of glam metal and entered into short and fast loud pieces of rock.
As well as thrash metal, grunge was peaking in the 90s rock scene, with bands like LA’s Tool and the notorious Nirvana and Soundgarden. Their music dealt with tragedy and sorrow, but it still brought something fresh to the scene and caused the death of mainstream glam rock. Unfortunately, Grunge was extremely short-lived and is often seen as being synonymous with the death of Kurt Cobain, who was a little bit of an icon for the movement. However, it is suggested that grunge thrived a little longer – until the first time Soundgarden broke up in 1997.
There were a lot of metal movements, and they all link together intrinsically. Books could be written about the vast metal genre, but for the sake of this article, a streamlined approach is taken. You can check out this map of metal to find out everything there is to know about the metal history and its roots.
2000 and Beyond
What happened to the glam lifestyle? Metal grew up, the same as we grow up. Artists matured and new artists drew their influences from different reference points. In the 2000s, metal music reverted to the sounds of rock and punk and came together under an alternative metal branch. Bands like the well-established Blink-182 and Greenday claimed themselves as punk, but it’s a far stretch from the sounds of the classics, like the Sex Pistols, who put a finger up to the establishment. Artists coming up through the 2000s had their reference points in Blink-182 and Greenday.
Other branches of metal were also prevalent in the 2000s. In 2005, Hollywood Undead burst onto the scene with their brand of rap-rock and still have an extremely large fanbase today. Further, down the road from Huntington Beach are rock giants Avenged Sevenfold, who filmed their live DVD at Long Beach’s LBC. Another branch of metal falls into the genre dubbed “emo music”, with most notably Weezer hailing from L.A – but that’s a totally different ball game.
Holding the torch for glam rock, as mentioned earlier, is Steel Panther, who formed in L.A. in 2000. Their sound is very much derived from the likes of Mötley Crüe, and although they might not live the same lifestyle, their songs certainly pay homage to it. On stage, they offer a wild night of big hair, spandex, and lyrics full of sex, drugs, and rock n roll.
The metal scene in L.A. paints a tale of clearly defined movements of big hair, glamorous get-ups, and a party scene in the 80s that would give Robert Downey Jr a run for his money. All before moving on to a decade of thrash and grunge, which tore away the wild degeneration of glam rock. Finally, we move into the 00s – a messy world of alternative metal and an attempt at a punk rock resurgence, with a flicker of nostalgic glam rock lighting the way to the golden age. If you live in L.A now ,then you’re more than spoilt for choice.