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This is a list of heavy metal artists from the formative years of the movement (formed between 1963 and 1981). For bands that formed after 1981, please consult the lists for each heavy metal subgenre. In the late 1960s, a number of bands began pushing the limits of blues rock into a new genre which would be called heavy metal.[1][2]

In 1981,[3] three of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands emerged (Metallica,[4] Slayer[5] and Anthrax),[5] to be joined on the scene in 1983 by Megadeth.[6]

Heavy metal bands formed between 1963 and 1981

Name Origin Years active Brief summary
220 Volt Sweden 1979–present
44 Magnum Japan 1977–1989, 2002–present
A II Z United Kingdom 1979–1982
Lee Aaron Canada 1980–present Solo artist whose recorded output has spanned multiple genres, including heavy metal.[7]
Accept Germany 1976-present
The Accused United States 1981-2002, 2003–present
AC/DC Australia 1973–present
Aerosmith[8] United States 1970–present
Agnostic Front United States 1980-1992, 1997–present
Alice Cooper[9][10] United States 1968–present
Angel United States 1975–1981, 1987, 1998–present
Ángeles del Infierno Spain 1978–present
Angel Witch United Kingdom 1977–1982, 1984–1998, 2000–present
The Angels/Angel City Australia 1974–2000, 2008-present
Anthem Japan 1980–1992, 2000–present
Anthrax United States 1981–present
Anvil Canada 1978–present
Armageddon United Kingdom 1974–1976
Atomic Mass United Kingdom 1977, 2003
Atomic Rooster United Kingdom 1969–1975, 1980–1983, 2016–present
Atomkraft United Kingdom 1979–1988, 2005
Attila United States 1969–1970 Bandmembers included Billy Joel and Jon Small.
Axe United States 1979–1984, 1997–2004
Babe Ruth United Kingdom 1970–1976, 2005–present
Bang[11] United States 1969–1973, 2001–2004
Barnabas United States 1977–1986
Barón Rojo Spain 1980–present
Battleaxe United Kingdom 1980–1988, 2010–present
Bengal Tigers Australia 1979–present
Beowülf United States 1981–1995, 2000–present
Birth Control Germany 1966–1983, 1993–2014
Bitch United States 1980–present First band to be signed by the Metal Blade Records label.
Black Death United States 1977–present The first all-African-American heavy metal band.
Black 'n Blue United States 1981–1989, 1997, 2003, 2007–present Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer joined Kiss in 2003.
Black Rose United Kingdom 1980–1989, 2006–present
Black Sabbath[12] United Kingdom 1968–2006, 2011–2017 Black Sabbath was formed by Ozzy Osbourne (lead vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass guitar), and Bill Ward (drums). Alcohol abuse led to Ozzy Osbourne getting fired and replaced with former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Black Sabbath is considered to be the progenitor of doom metal.
Black Widow United Kingdom 1966–1973, 2007–present
Bleak House United Kingdom 1972–1983
Blind Illusion United States 1978–1989, 2009–present
Blitzkrieg United Kingdom 1980–1981, 1984–1991, 1992–1994, 1996–1999, 2001–present
Bloodrock United States 1969–1975
Blue Cheer[13] United States 1966–1972, 1974–1976, 1978–1979, 1984–1994, 1999–2009 One of the earliest heavy metal acts. Cited as a major influence on the genres of stoner rock and grunge.
Blue Öyster Cult[14] United States 1967–present
Bodine Netherlands 1978–1984
Boss Australia 1979–1986
Bow Wow[15] Japan 1975–present Also known as Vow Wow for part of their career (1984–1990).
Bronz United Kingdom 1976–1985, 1999–2000, 2003–2005, 2010–present
Edgar Broughton Band United Kingdom 1968–2010 Cited in the 2010 BBC TV documentary Heavy Metal Britannia as a formative influence on the genre in the UK.
Budgie[16] United Kingdom 1967–present
Buffalo[17][18] Australia 1971–1977
Bulldozer Italy 1980–1990, 2008–present
Cactus[19] United States 1969–1972, 2006–present
Captain Beyond United States 1971–1973, 1976–1978, 1998–2003
Chateaux United Kingdom 1981–1985
Cirith Ungol United States 1972–1992, 1996–2001, 2015–present
Cloven Hoof United Kingdom 1979–1990, 2000–present
Coven United States 1968–1975, 2007–present
Crimson Glory United States 1979–1992, 1998–present
Crushed Butler United Kingdom 1969–1971
Dayglo Abortions Canada 1979 - present
Death United States 1974-1977, 2009–present
Death SS Italy 1977–1984, 1988–present
Dedringer United Kingdom 1977–1985
Deep Machine United Kingdom 1979–1982, 2009–2015
Deep Purple United Kingdom 1968–1976, 1984–present
Def Leppard United Kingdom 1977–present The band began as a heavy metal outfit.
Demon United Kingdom 1979–present Headlined the first British Steel Festival in 2006.[20]
The Deviants United Kingdom 1967–1969, 1978, 1984, 1996, 2002, 2011–present Singer and writer Mick Farren died on 27 July 2013.
Diamond Head United Kingdom 1976–1985, 1991–1994, 2002–present
Die Krupps Germany 1980–present
Divlje Jagode Yugoslavia / Bosnia and Herzegovina 1977–present
Dokken United States 1978–1989, 1993–present
Doro Germany 1980–present
Dust United States 1969–1972 Drummer Marc Bell joined The Ramones in 1978.
Earthshaker Japan 1978–1994, 1999–present
Easy Action Sweden 1981–1986, 2006–present
E.F. Band Sweden 1978–1986
Electric Sun Germany 1978–1986
Elf United States 1967–1975 Ronnie James Dio on vocals.
Ethel the Frog United Kingdom 1976–1980
Europe Sweden 1979–1992, 1999 (partial reunion), 2003–present The band began as a heavy metal outfit.
Exciter Canada 1978–present
Faith No More United States 1979-1998, 2009–present
Fallout United States 1979–1982
Fist United Kingdom 1978–1982, 2001–2006
Flotsam and Jetsam United States 1981–present
Flower Travellin' Band[21] Japan 1967–1973, 2007–present
The Flying Hat Band United Kingdom 1971–1974 Glenn Tipton on vocals and guitar, later joined Judas Priest in 1974.
Lita Ford United States 1975-1995, 2008–present
Gamma United States 1978–1983, 2000
Geordie United Kingdom 1972–1980, 1982–1985, 2001 Singer Brian Johnson went on to join AC/DC in 1980, after the death of Bon Scott.
Gillan United Kingdom 1978–1983
Girl United Kingdom 1979–1982
Girlschool United Kingdom 1978–present All-female band formed during the new wave of British heavy metal.
Gordi Yugoslavia 1977–1984
Grand Funk Railroad[22][23][24] United States 1968–1977, 1980–1983, 1996–present
Grave Digger Germany 1980–1987, 1991–present
Gravestone Germany 1977–1986
Great White United States 1977–2001, 2002–present The band began as a heavy metal outfit.
Grim Reaper United Kingdom 1979–1988, 2006–present
The Gun United Kingdom 1967–1970
Sammy Hagar United States 1967–present
The Handsome Beasts United Kingdom 1972–present
Hanoi Rocks Finland 1979–1985, 2001–2009
Hard Stuff United Kingdom 1971–1973
Hawkwind United Kingdom 1969–present
Headpins Canada 1979–present
Heaven Australia 1980–2000
Heavy Load Sweden 1976–1985
Heavy Metal Kids United Kingdom 1972–1985, 2002–present Initially featured actor Gary Holton on vocals.
Helix Canada 1974–present
Help United States 1970-1971
Jimi Hendrix United States 1963-1970 As a part of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys, Hendrix was one of the pioneering proto-metal acts, with his feedback-heavy brand of acid rock.
High Tide United Kingdom 1969–1970
Hollow Ground United Kingdom 1979–1982, 2007, 2013
Holocaust United Kingdom 1977–present
Holy Moses Germany 1980–1994, 2000–present
Icon United States 1979–1990, 2008–present
Iron Butterfly[21] United States 1966–present Second guitarist Erik Braunn died in 2003 of a heart attack. Original bassist Lee Dorman died on 21 December 2012. Drummer Ron Bushy died on 29 August 2021.
Iron Claw United Kingdom 1969–1974, 1993, 2010–present
Iron Maiden United Kingdom 1975–present Iron Maiden achieved success during the early 1980s. After several line-up changes, the band went on to release a series of U.S. and UK platinum and gold albums, including 1982's The Number of the Beast, 1983's Piece of Mind, 1984's Powerslave, 1985's live release Live After Death, 1986's Somewhere in Time and 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
Jag Panzer United States 1981–1988, 1994–2011
Jaguar United Kingdom 1979–1985, 1998–present
Jameson Raid United Kingdom 1975–1983, 2008–present
Jerusalem United Kingdom 1972–present Produced and managed by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. Early creators of Metal. Remastered vinyl and CD versions of original Decca, Deram and Universal releases have been reissued by Rockadrome Records.
Josefus United States 1969–2005
JPT Scare Band United States 1973–present
Judas Priest United Kingdom 1969–present
Kat Poland 1979–1987, 1990–1999, 2002–present
Kerber Serbia 1981–present
Kick Axe Canada 1976–1988, 2003–present
Killer Belgium 1980–present
Killer Dwarfs Canada 1981–1997, 2001–present
Killing Joke United Kingdom 1978–1996, 2002–present
King's X United States 1979–present
Kiss United States 1973–present
Kix United States 1977–1996, 2003–present
Krokus Switzerland 1974–present
Leaf Hound United Kingdom 1969–1971, 2004–present
Leatherwolf United States 1981–present
Led Zeppelin[25] United Kingdom 1968–1980, 2007, 2011
Legs Diamond United States 1975–present
Leño Spain 1978–1983
Leviticus Sweden 1981–1990
Lionheart United Kingdom 1980–1986
The Litter United States 1966-1972
Living Death Germany 1980–1991
London United States 1978–1981, 1984–1990, 2006–present Early lineups featured future members of Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, W.A.S.P. and Cinderella.[26]
Lone Star United Kingdom 1975–1978
Los Suaves Spain 1980–present
Loudness Japan 1980–present
Lucifer's Friend[27] Germany 1970–1982, 1993–1997, 2014–present
Mahogany Rush Canada 1970–1980, 1998–present
Malice United States 1980–1989, 2006–present
Yngwie Malmsteen Sweden 1978–present
Mama's Boys Ireland 1978–1993
Manilla Road United States 1977–1990, 2001–present
Manowar United States 1980–present Drummer Scott Columbus died on 4 April 2011.
Marseille United Kingdom 1976–present
Max Webster Canada 1973–1982
May Blitz United Kingdom 1969–1972
MC5 United States 1964-1972, 1992, 2003-2012 One of the earliest influences on the genre, as well as one of the earliest punk rock bands.
Mentors United States 1976–present
Mercyful Fate Denmark 1981–1985, 1992–1999 King Diamond on vocals.
Metal Church United States 1980–1994, 1998–2009, 2012–present
Metallica United States 1981–present Bassist Cliff Burton died on 27 September 1986.
Ministry United States 1981–2008, 2011–present Started as a new wave act. Later known for Industrial metal/thrash music.
Misfits United States 1977–1983, 1995–present
Montrose United States 1973–1976, 2005
More United Kingdom 1980–1982, 1985, 1998–2000, 2011–present
Mötley Crüe United States 1981–2015, 2018–present
Motörhead United Kingdom 1975–2015 Lemmy died on 28 December 2015.
Mountain[28] United States 1969–1972, 1973–1974, 1981–1985, 1992–1998, 2001–2010
Moxy Canada 1974-1983, 1999-2009
Nazareth United Kingdom 1968–present
Necromandus[21][29] United Kingdom 1970–1973
The Next Band United Kingdom 1978–1982
Nightmare France 1979–1987, 1999–present
Night Sun[30] Germany 1970–1973
Nightwing United Kingdom 1978–1987, 1996–present
Ted Nugent[31][32] United States 1975–present
The Obsessed United States 1976–1986, 1990–1995, 2011–present
Ozzy Osbourne United Kingdom 1979–present He is known as the first frontman of Black Sabbath. (1968-1979, reunion - 1998-2017)
Ostrogoth Belgium 1980–1988, 2002, 2010–present
Oz Finland 1977–1991, 2010–present
Pagan Altar United Kingdom 1978–1982, 2004–present
Pantera United States 1981–2003 Started as a glam metal band.
Pentagram United States 1971–1976, 1978–1979, 1981–present
Persian Risk United Kingdom 1979–1986
Picture Netherlands 1979–1987, 1997–1999, 2007–present
Pink Fairies United Kingdom 1970–1976, 1987–1988
Pomaranča Yugoslavia / Slovenia 1979–1986, 1994–present
Praying Mantis United Kingdom 1974–present
Pretty Maids Denmark 1981–present
Primevil United States 1973–1974
Quartz United Kingdom 1974–1983, 1996, 2011
Queensrÿche United States 1981–present
Quiet Riot[33] United States 1975–present
Rainbow United Kingdom/United States 1975–1984, 1993–1997, 2016–present Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore formed Rainbow in 1975 after leaving Deep Purple.
Ratt United States 1976–1992, 1996–present
Raven United Kingdom 1974–present
Riot United States 1975–1984, 1986–2012
Rock Goddess United Kingdom 1977–1987, 1994–1995, 2009, 2015–present
Rok Mašina Yugoslavia 1980–1982
Rose Tattoo Australia 1976–1987, 1993, 1998–present
Uli Jon Roth Germany 1968–present
Rough Cutt United States 1981–1987, 2000–2002
The Runaways United States 1975–1979
Running Wild Germany 1976–2009, 2011–present
Rush Canada 1968–2017
Saber Tiger Japan 1981–present
Sacred Rite United States 1980–1990
Saint United States 1980–1989, 1999–present
Saint Vitus United States 1978–1996, 2003, 2008–present
Salem United Kingdom 1979–1983, 2009–present
Samson United Kingdom 1977–2002
Sarcofagus Finland 1977-2020[34]
Satan United Kingdom 1979–1988, 2005–present
Savage United Kingdom 1976–present
Savage Grace United States 1981–1993, 2009–2010
Savatage United States 1978–2002, 2014–present Previous members of the band formed the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1996.
Saxon United Kingdom 1976–present
Michael Schenker Group Germany 1979–present
Scorpions Germany 1965–present
Shark Island United States 1979–1992
Sir Lord Baltimore United States 1968–1976, 2006–present
Sister United States 1976–1978
Skitzo United States 1981–present
Slayer United States 1981-2019
Sorcery United States 1976–1987
Sortilège France 1981–1986
Sound Barrier United States 1980–1987
Spinal Tap United States 1979–present Parody heavy metal band which first appeared on TV in 1979, with American actors playing the parts of fictional British musicians.
Spider United Kingdom 1976–1986
Stampede United Kingdom 1981–1983, 2009–present
Starz United States 1975–1979, 1980, 1990, 2003–present
Steeler Germany 1981–1988
Steppenwolf United States 1967–2018 The 1967 recording "Born to Be Wild" was one of the first rock songs to contain the phrase "Heavy Metal" in its lyrics.
The Stooges United States 1967-1971, 1972-1974, 2003–2016
Stormwitch Germany 1979–1994, 2002–present
Stray United Kingdom 1966–present
Suck South Africa 1970–1971
Suicidal Tendencies United States 1980–1995, 1997–present
Sweet Savage United Kingdom 1979–present
Tank United Kingdom 1980–1989, 1997–present
Tarantula Portugal 1981–present
Tesla United States 1981–1996, 2000–present
Thin Lizzy Ireland 1969–1984, 1996–2012
Thor Canada 1976–1978, 1983–1986, 1997–present
TKO United States 1977–2001
Toad Switzerland 1970–1995
Tobruk United Kingdom 1981–1987
Törr Czechoslovakia 1977–present
Trance Germany 1977–1998, 2011–present According to Manfred Meyer of Metal Hammer magazine, some would rank the band alongside Accept and Scorpions as the third most important hard rock band from Germany.
Trespass United Kingdom 1978–1982, 1992–1993, 2013–present
Triumph Canada 1975–1993, 2008–present
Trooper Canada 1974–present
Trouble United States 1979–present
Trust France 1977–1985, 1988, 1996–2000, 2006
Truth and Janey United States 1969-1976, 1977-1978
TSA Poland 1979–present
T.S.O.L. United States 1978-2006, 2007–present
Tucky Buzzard United Kingdom 1969–1974
Turbo Poland 1980–present
Twisted Sister United States 1972–1988, 1997–2016
Tygers of Pan Tang United Kingdom 1978–1987, 1999–present
Tytan United Kingdom 1981–1983, 2012–present
UFO United Kingdom 1969–1988, 1992–present
Urchin United Kingdom 1972–1980
Uriah Heep United Kingdom 1969–present
V8 Argentina 1979–1987
Vandenberg Netherlands 1981–1987, 2020–present
Van Halen United States 1972–2020 Van Halen's combination of hard rock, heavy metal, and pop elements helped to popularize and mainstream the genre of hard rock music, and is known for changing the way we play guitar. The band disbanded in 2020 following Eddie Van Halen's death.
Vanilla Fudge[35] United States 1967–1970, 1982–1984, 1987–1988, 1991, 1999–present
Vardis United Kingdom 1973–1986, 2014–present
Vatreni Poljubac Yugoslavia / Bosnia and Herzegovina 1977–1986, 1998–2001, 2010–present
Venom United Kingdom 1979–present Pioneers of the black metal genre, with their 1981 album Black Metal and subsequent releases.
Vicious Rumors United States 1979–present
Virgin Steele United States 1981–present
Vixen United States 1980–1992, 1997–1998, 2001–present
Vulcain France 1981–1998, 2009–present
Warlord United States 1980–1986, 2002, 2011–present
Warning France 1980–1985
Warpig Canada 1968–1975, 2004–present
White Sister United States 1980–1986, 2008–2009
Whitesnake United Kingdom 1978–1990, 1994, 1997, 2002–present
White Spirit United Kingdom 1975–1981
White Wolf Canada 1975–1986, 2007–present
Wild Dogs United States 1981–present
Wild Horses United Kingdom 1978–1981
Witchfinder General United Kingdom 1979–1984, 2006–2008
Witchfynde United Kingdom 1974–1984, 1999–present
Wrathchild United Kingdom 1980–1990, 2009–present
Wrathchild America United States 1978–1993
Y&T United States 1974–1991, 1995–present
Zebra United States 1975–present
Zoetrope United States 1976–1993

See also



  1. ^ Weinstein, Deena. Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture. DaCapo, 2000. ISBN 0-306-80970-2, pg. 14.
  2. ^ Christe, Ian (2004). Sound of the Beast. Allison & Busby. p. 1. ISBN 0-7490-8351-4.
  3. ^ "1981 Snapshots in Music - Top Musical Moments of 1981". Archived from the original on 18 August 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Kerrang!". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Answers - The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answer.coms. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Megadeth - Back In The Day lyrics | LyricsFreak". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  7. ^ Lee Aaron - 'Metal Queen' album review at Metal Archives website
  8. ^ Walser, Robert (1999). Running with The Devil. Wesleyan University Press. pp. s. 8, 13. ISBN 0-8195-6260-2.
  9. ^ Walser, Robert (1999). Running with The Devil. Wesleyan University Press. pp. s. 11, 16, 78. ISBN 0-8195-6260-2.
  10. ^ Christe, Ian (2004). Sound of the Beast. Allison & Busby. pp. 2, 16, 18, 19, 39, 56–69, 93, 304, 333. ISBN 0-7490-8351-4.
  11. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Bang biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  12. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Black Sabbath biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  13. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Blue Cheer biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  14. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Blue Öyster Cult biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  15. ^ "BOWWOW Frontman Kyoji Yamamoto". Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  16. ^ Prato, Greg. "Budgie biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  17. ^ Bealmear, Bart. "Dead Forever... review". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  18. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Volcanic Rock review". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  19. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "One Way... or Another review". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  20. ^ "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - DEMON, ELIXIR, CLOVEN HOOF, HAMMERHEAD Confirmed F…". Archived from the original on 10 July 2012.
  21. ^ a b c Sleazegrinder (March 2007). "The Lost Pioneers of Heavy Metal". Classic Rock.
  22. ^ "Grand Funk Railroad: Grand Funk Lives : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 27 May 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  23. ^ Curtis, James M.; Curtis, Jim (6 October 1987). Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, 1954-1984. Popular Press. ISBN 9780879723699. Retrieved 6 October 2020 – via Google Books.
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  25. ^ Christe, Ian (2004). Sound of the Beast. Allison & Busby. p. 12. ISBN 0-7490-8351-4.
  26. ^ "MusicMight :: Artists :: LONDON". Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2010. Biography of the band London at, 2009
  27. ^ "AMG bio of Lucifer's Friend". Retrieved 15 October 2007.
  28. ^ Ingham, Chris (2002). The Book of Metal. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-56025-419-5.
  29. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Necromandus biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  30. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Mournin review". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  31. ^ Roberts, Roxanne & Argetsinger, Amy. "Ted Nugent: Long past his 'rock star' days, how he caused a political firestorm". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  32. ^ Rolling Stone magazine. "Ted Nugent biography". Simon & Schuster. Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  33. ^ "Quiet Riot | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  34. ^ 'Sarcofagus comes to an end after 43-year Rollercoaster' - Article on (29th December 2020)
  35. ^ Christe, Ian (2004). Sound of the Beast. Allison & Busby. p. 13. ISBN 0-7490-8351-4.