Hair Metal? This is probably one of the hardest categories to define. Is it just any guitarist with long hair? Is it a guitarist with long, blonde hair? Hair metal began in the late 70's and carried over to the 80's. It is primarily recognized by big hairdo's, make-up, and power ballads. They became immensely popular in the mid 80's. Even classic rock bands began to appear as hair bands since they were so popular and it sold records (see Aerosmith). Many of these bands were not the most talented musicians, but they knew how to write a catchy hook and the aforementioned power ballad. However, there are many hidden gems among the many hair bands of the era. Some amazing players are still to be found. In fact, one or more of those appearing in this list, may also appear in my overall favorite list.
While researching these guitarists, I noticed that several appear in other lists on the 'net that I will not be including in mine. I do not see Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, or Aerosmith as hair metal bands nor Ted Nugent as a hair metal guitarist. Yes, they all had big hair at some point, but they all had established careers before and after the hair metal era and were known more for their music than for their look.
Here's my list of my top 10 favorite "Hair" Metal guitarists (read more):
As a reminder, these are MY favorites and is not necessary a reflection of who are the best guitarists of the genre.
Their primary band and essential albums are listed next to each.
10. Tommy Skeoch (Tesla) - Mechanical Resonance, The Great Radio Controversy
9. Dave "The Snake" Sabo - Skid Row, Slave To The Grind
8. John Norum (Europe, Solo) - Wings of Tomorrow, The Final Countdown
7. Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) - Extreme, Pornograffitti
6. Slash (Guns 'n Roses) - Appetite For Destruction, Use Your Illusion (I & II)
5. Ritchie Sambora (Bon Jovi) - Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet
4. Reb Beach (Winger) - Winger, In the Heart Of The Young
3. Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) - Dawn Patrol, Midnight Madness, Seven Wishes
2. Warren Di Martini (Ratt) - Out OF The Cellar, Invasion OF Your Privacy, Detonator
1. George Lynch "Mr. Scary" (Dokken, Lynch Mob, Solo) - Tooth And Nail, Under Lock And Key, Back For The Attack
Yes, George Lynch will make my top 10 overall favorite list. Not sure where he will place yet, but he's up there. I expect to have left out many others that one would expect to find on this list like the guitarists for some bands that are THE definition of "Hair" metal like: Poison, Cinderella, Warrant, & Motley Crue. These bands were huge hair metal bands, just did not have any of my favorite guitarists.
As usual, I am interested in differing points of view or reminders of who I may have forgotten.