Steve Perry was still with Journey in 1982, Metallica had just debuted and the Doobie Brothers went on a farewell tour that wouldn’t be their last.
Popular songs would soon be dripping with synthesizers and reverb, and some of that had already begun seeping in. By and large, however, rock artists continued to enjoy success in 1982 with full drum kits and timeless guitar solos.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” spent seven weeks at No. 1 in 1982. The J. Geils Band spent six weeks in the top spot with “Centerfold” that year, and Survivor enjoyed six weeks at the top of the charts with “Eye of the Tiger.”
John Mellencamp held down the No. 1 spot for four weeks with “Jack & Diane,” while the Go-Go’s and Motley Crue were among a new generation of acts quickly ascending to stardom.
MTV became a force in 1982 after its debut in August 1981, further cementing its place in pop-culture history by bringing many rockers to a nationwide audience. “Rock the Casbah” by the Clash, the Cars‘ “Shake It Up,” “Who Can It Be Now” by Men at Work and Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” ranked among the cable network’s most popular videos.
Rock acts held the No. 1 spot in the U.S. for 44 of the year’s 52 weeks or about 85% of the time, highlighting how embedded in the culture rock still was at the time. Here’s a look back at 40 of the top rock acts who helped define this transitional year in music.
40 Artists Who Defined Rock Music in 1982
New acts arrived, some of the old guard changed their sound and various new subgenres emerged.