Without hair metal where would I be?

Still listening to Dead Or Alive, perhaps? Still spinning A-ha, maybe? Never looking beyond Radio One or Q Magazine?

It’s a frightening prospect and an outcome which strikes fear into a rock and metal fan with more than 20 years of power chords and guitar solos under his belt.

Thanks to Def Leppard – and namely the Animal single – I was encouraged to go down a road where real music, real musicians and real life ruled. It proved to be a journey of many different twists and turns and even now it’s the trip of a lifetime.

Hair metal was where it all started but that was just the beginning. Def Leppard led to Death Angel, Tesla prompted me to listen to Testament, the Quireboys encouraged me to investigate Queensryche and Motley Crue made Metallica a viable option.

But if classic rock, thrash, prog and the like are all essential parts of my music library these days there’s no doubt that initial love affair with hair metal lives on.

It’s a much maligned genre, make no mistake. Even within rock, the hair metal fraternity are looked down on from high. An obsession with pop rock chords, singalong choruses, soaring solos, hair spray and (occasionally) make-up ensure there are vocal enemies aplenty.

And perhaps Steel Panther haven’t helped the cause. Or have they?

The spoof hair metallers might send up every Sunset Strip act from Ratt to Poison but they have reminded the masses what the genre’s all about. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. And putting a smile on the faces of fans everywhere.

Leave the doom to Venom. Leave the concepts to Queensryche. Leave the overly complicated rhythm sections to Rush and Dream Theater. And leave the heaviest shit on earth to thrash metal’s big four.

There’s room for everyone in rock. But hair metal has a special place in my heart because it’s decadent, devilish and occasionally daft. It’s over-the-top, over-produced and far from over.

In fact in 2010 hair metal is in rude health. The old bands are back and the new kids on the block are embracing sleaze, glam and pop metal with a renewed vigour.

The feelgood factor has returned and this time let’s hope it’s for good. Hair metal is, and always has been, a cut above.