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Welcome to the jungle: The definitive oral history of ’80s metal

While the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was taking over the club scene in the UK and Europe, a batch of bands in and around Los Angeles — triggered by a love for KISS, Van Halen, and glam groups like the New York Dolls and the Sweet — were about to shake Sunset Strip like a 7.0 earthquake. With flashy, androgynous images and brash, solo-saturated songs, the “hair metal” bands were visually compelling and musically engaging. In the beginning, groups like Mötley Crüe and Ratt were almost as heavy as Judas Priest and Dio, the band Ronnie James Dio formed after leaving Black Sabbath. But as the scene gained popularity and a major label feeding frenzy began, many musicians tailored their songs for mainstream radio, retaining some of their heaviness but drawing more emphasis to melody and heart-on-sleeve sensitivity — and sexuality.

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