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20 Rarely Seen Photos of Los Angeles Rock Bands From the Late 1970s to the 1980s

Rock genres collided in 1980s Los Angeles, creating a kaleidoscope of sounds unmatched by any other city for its variety. The terrain of Southern California, by its very diverse nature, spawned likewise diverse talent. The beach communities, the Valley, South Central, the Inland Empire, East L.A.; each had its own flavor, infused in the local music.

Together these bands created an indigenous imprimatur, a unique combination of audacity, theatricality, bravado, pitch-perfect harmonies and an uninhibited sense of humor. In addition, with the major record labels headquartered here since the gradual shift in the late-sixties, it became the center of the music industry, and by the end of the 1970s Los Angeles had everything an ambitious rock group could hope for: an abundance of clubs, school dances and rehearsal spaces for playing; and the ubiquitous A&R executives that regularly made the rounds, seeking new talent to sign.

While snobbish music journalists panned heavy metal with snarky reviews, the bands’ devoted fans crammed every venue they played, sending them to the top of the charts and to platinum selling-status. It was a very good decade for the music industry, with more bands being signed in L.A. and more revenue being generated from L.A. bands than in any other place and time since the 1950s.

May 15, 1984: From under a heavenly blue light, lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen inspired ecstasy in Sunday night's crowd. (Photo by Paul Chinn, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

In preparation for an upcoming show at the Santa Monica Civic, Mötley Crüe rehearses at Perkins Palace in Pasadena on November 9, 1983; left to right, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx, and Mick Mars. (Photo by Gary Leonard)

1984: Greg Ginn and (future KCRW DJ) Henry Rollins of Black Flag (Photo by Rob Brown, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

October 28, 1983: San Pedro's Minutemen, who will be playing locally are, from left, Mike Watt, D. Boon and George Hurley. (Photo by James Ruebsamen, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

March 19, 1984: Heavy metal group Slayer's lyrics include lines like, 'Hold high his name we must... In Lord Satan we trust.' (Photo by James Reubsamen, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

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20 Rarely Seen Photos of Los Angeles Rock Bands From the Late 1970s to the 1980s


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