They had some of rock's biggest hits and hairdos of the mid-1980s, but who could have predicted that Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and Poison would be behind the Twin Cities' biggest rock concert of 2022?
Actually, few would have guessed that those three bands would even still be around in 2022.
Coming to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday along with fellow '80s hitmaker Joan Jett, this group of bad boys and one tough woman all relied heavily on the then-crucial image-making machinery of MTV and music videos to become platinum-selling rock acts, plus another 1980s hitmaking tool: the power ballad.
Somehow, all four survived that decadent decade and a lot more calamity to still be standing 35-plus years later. "Survived" might be a relative term in this case, though.
Mötley Crüe, in particular, is limping into the Minneapolis stop on the oh-so-cleverly named Stadium Tour, which was delayed from 2020 because of COVID-19. Drummer Tommy Lee is on the mend from broken ribs and has been accused of using prerecorded backing tracks to help him play. Singer Vince Neil has been struggling with vocal problems since about the Clinton administration.
Still, all four of the Stadium Tour acts have enjoyed admirably resilient careers. Here's a comparison.
Formed: 1977 in Sheffield, England.
Original members left: Four out of five.
Name that power ballad: "Love Bites" (1987) was their biggest hit, a song with such ham-fistedly unromantic queries as "Do you think twice, or just touch and see?" and "How do you please yourself?"
Other hits: "Rock of Ages," "Photograph" (1983), "Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Animal" (1987).
Career high point: At the peak of MTV's popularity from the mid- to late-'80s, they scored big with the above hits and accompanying videos made with 10 gallons of hairspray apiece, becoming one of the top-selling bands in the world at the time.
Low point: Drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in a car accident in 1985, but he famously carried on using an electronically modified drum kit. Guitarist Steve Clark's death from alcohol poisoning in 1991 was another blow to the band, but the band carried on again with help from Whitesnake's Vivian Campbell.
Of late: Thanks in part to the two-year delay from COVID, these blokes are touting a new album on this tour, "Diamond Star Halos," their first in seven years. It shows off their glam-rock influences and features a rather surprising guest in Alison Krauss.
Can the singer still sing? Sorta. Joe Elliott sounded hoarse and used a lot of recorded "augmentation" to re-create the band's famously giant choruses their last time in town at Target Field in 2018 with Journey. But he's never had video clips and memes go viral with the hashtag #cantsing like a certain other singer on this tour.
Formed: 1981 in Los Angeles.
Original members left: Four of four.
Name that power ballad: "Home Sweet Home," originally released in 1985. It was then rereleased with a greatest hits LP in 1991, just in case we didn't get it the first time around that Tommy Lee also knows how to play the piano.
Other hits: "Dr. Feelgood" and "Kickstart My Heart" were their biggest. At some point, though, "Girls, Girls, Girls" probably surpassed those other late-'80s hits in royalty payments thanks to strip clubs.
Career high point: Those 1987 hits and that year's tour marked their commercial peak. Lee's sex tape with then-wife Pamela Anderson and the hoopla around its internet release in 1995 — the subject of this year's hit Hulu TV miniseries "Pam & Tommy" — arguably resulted in more enduring fame.
Low point: Where to start. Vince Neil was jailed in 1984 after drunkenly crashing a car that killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle Dingley. Then he was fired in 1991, but the band failed miserably with a new singer. Both Neil and Lee have also been accused of assaulting women, with the drummer serving a six-month jail sentence in 1998 for beating up Anderson.
Of late: The band hasn't put out a new album since 2008 and has been otherwise quiet since its so-called Final Tour in 2014-2015. Bassist/songwriter Nikki Sixx has continued recording with his other group Sixx A.M.
Can the singer still sing? Clearly, no. Innumerable viral clips in recent years show Neil, 61, sounding more like a squawking crow than a singing Crüeman, including his first post-pandemic solo concert where it got so bad Neil left the stage early. One clip from a Rock in Rio set in 2015 was even posted via YouTube under the title "Vince Neil sounds like Bob Dylan." The horror!!!
Formed: Mechanicsburg, Pa., in 1983.
Original members left: Also four out of four.
Name that power ballad: "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," which went to No. 1 in 1988 thanks in part to a video shot in Green Bay, Wis., to help underscore just how sad, sad a song it is.
Other hits: "Talk Dirty to Me," "Nothin' But a Good Time," "Something to Believe In" and "Unskinny Bop" each also cracked the top 10 in Billboard's U.S. singles chart, though that last dimwitted one also arguably signaled the end of the '80s hair-band wave in 1990.
Career high point: Their 1988 album "Open Up and Say … Ahh!" sold 5 million U.S. copies and made them a bigger draw on tour that year than the other L.A. scene bands they previously opened for, including Ratt and Quiet Riot.
Low point: As his Poison bandmates were kept on the sidelines while he also toured heavily as a solo artist, singer Bret Michaels resorted to reality-TV fame throughout the '00s. First came the VH1 series "Rock of Love," where women competed to date him, then Michaels himself competed for Donald Trump's affection on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice." To his credit, the singer did win that season.
Of late: Once the reality-TV well dried up, Michaels put the old band back together for frequent tours in the late-2010s, including a prior 2017 outing with Def Leppard.
Singing power: Luckily for Michaels, now 59, he never really entered the high-pitched, squealy vocal range that many of his fellow hair-band frontmen did, so it's a lot easier for him to sing the old hits.
Formed: She started the Blackhearts in 1979.
Original members left: She's still backed by longtime Blackhearts drummer Thommy Price.
Name that power ballad: "Crimson and Clover," her remake of Tommy James & the Shondells' 1968 hit, became her second biggest hit in 1982.
Other hits: "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" (also 1982) was her biggest one, of course, rocketing to No. 1 worldwide in 1982 and launching her solo career after her first shot at stardom with the Runaways infamously fizzled. She also scored big with "Bad Reputation" (1981) and "I Hate Myself for Loving You" (1988).
Career high point: She has arguably has been enjoying it over the past decade-plus, starting with Kristen Stewart's big-screen turn as her in 2010's "The Runaways," and then Jett herself showed off her resiliency onscreen in the hit 2018 documentary "Bad Reputation." Then came her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2019, with Miley Cyrus declaring her "what Superwoman really should be."
Low point: While a clear indicator of how famous she had become, her starring role in the 1987 movie "Light of Day" as Michael J. Fox's bandmate sister was one career turn she'd mostly like to forget. And most of us did forget it, though the Bruce Springsteen-penned title song was memorable.
Of late: She and the Blackhearts just released their first acoustic album, "Changeup," featuring remakes of some of their classics and more.
Singing power: At 63, Jett's bad reputation is as good as ever.
The Stadium Tour
With: Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.
When: 4:30 p.m. Sun.
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, 401 Chicago Av. S., Mpls.
Tickets: $49-$850, ticketmaster.com