In the late 1970s, the metal scene gave birth to a subgenre of controversy: glam metal. Categorised by flashy, sparkly outfits, big fluffy hair, and pop-synth beats overlaid onto the metal riffs, glam metal or hair metal was seen as metal bands taking a cheap shot at fame, money, and women. Through the 1980s, glam metal continue to pump out songs and bands, feeding into the wild rock’n’roll lifestyle that we often talk about today, until the early 1990s saw the decline of the genre as backlash eventually won its way.
In the US, Los Angeles is credited as the birth place of glam metal in the early 1980s, though in the United Kingdom, there are thought to be some origins in the last 70s, with inspiration being taken from less-so-heavy British icons such as T. Rex and David Bowie. From this perspective, it seems only natural that metal would, within a few years, get its own glitzy subgenre of hair and fashion, though that certainly did not prevent hair metal was being a sort of joke of the industry, despite its great success with fans at the time.
While who is or isn’t “glam metal” or “hair metal” is often debated, due to the controversy in the jokey genre altogether, there are plenty of big fan 70s and 80s bands which, rightly or wrongly, found themselves attributed with this label, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Kiss, and Bon Jovi being just some of the biggest names to come with the genre. Guns N Roses, Twisted Sister, Europe, The Darkness, Pantera… If you’re going to look into a list of glam metal bands, you’re going to come across a good handful of bands and songs that you have most definitely rocked out to at least once, even if you weren’t around in the 80s.
The phenomena of glam metal got me thinking recently, or should I say hypothesising, on what this period of time actually looked like astrologically. I hadn’t spent a great deal of time looking at the astrology of this period before, but I had an inkling that Leo Saturn and Scorpio Uranus would be here somewhere. Leo, the lion, taking in the power that is Saturn, redefining the “rules” in a particularly well-hairsprayed fashion, as Uranus traverses edgy, rebellious Scorpio, learning new ways to bring rock and roll into the mainstream. Sure enough, both of these placements were in transit around the era or just before, in the years which influenced the genre.
However, as you can probably imagine, pinpointing the conception of a whole genre and the various influences and big names within it is certainly no easy task. What charts do we use? What conception point do we consider? When was the truth ‘death’ of glam metal? Well, in this particular study, I opted to research individual examples of glam metal to piece the whole puzzle together. After all, when it comes to something like a development in societal taste, it’d be unwise to assign one single day to this, especially with a genre which doesn’t exist in just one location. In the 80s, music wasn’t shared as instantaneously as we know it to be now, with songs sometimes taking months to find their way from the US to the UK, while UK-grown tracks could top our charts within a matter of weeks. This discrepancy is what led me to go for the individual natal charts of specific bands, songs, and overall transits, to gain a picture of how one thing (like an artist or a musical piece) was affected and cultivated over an astrological period.
Since this is also a casual study, I focused specifically on music and bands that I was already familiar with, such as those I named earlier. This shouldn’t affect anything too much, since a lot of the famous glam metal bands even in the UK were American, but this is why there’s some big names missing from this study. But, hey, maybe I’ll return to this in future! For now, though, I’m choosing to focus on Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Europe, Def Leppard, and Guns N Roses as my study base.
US Glam Rock Titans… Motley Crue and Bon Jovi
When it comes to the five bands I’m looking into today, I didn’t think it’d be an easy feat trying to find out an accurate date for their origin, that’s for sure. However, I was proved wrong pretty early thanks to Wikipedia and Loudwire both reporting that Motley Crue was formed on the 17th January 1981 – score!
Motley Crue are a Capricorn Sun, Aquarius Mercury, Capricorn Venus, Aquarius Mars with Saturn, Jupiter, and Pluto in Libra, and Uranus in Scorpio. Saturn is exalted in Libra, meaning that Libra is a beneficial place for Saturn to be seated. It’s also worth noting that there is mutual reception between Venus and Saturn here, as Venus is in Capricorn, created a back and forth between sensuality and fashion, and authority and dissolution. With Jupiter, expansion and abundance, and Pluto, chaos and transformation, also seated in Libra, I think it’s safe to say that Motley Crue were the perfect example of what happens when the planets are let loose to be their biggest selves: rock and roll to the extreme, with vanity on high, and their places as ‘models’ and ‘authority’ as desirable and fashion forward musicians (Libra to a T) were taken advantage of.
Bon Jovi proved harder to pinpoint. Jon Bon Jovi had been performing since he was a teenager, but does that mean I count his teenage career toward the ultimate conception of Bon Jovi, the band, as glam metal? I chose not to do so, and instead, I opted to find “the” Bon Jovi glam metal album’s conception. As far as music journalists seem to be concerned, Bon Jovi could be considered glam metal since their debut self-titled, so I used the date of its release, which was January 21st 1984. Yes, I see the theme too.
Now, the Bon Jovi album is more typical of what you’d expect from metal meeting the world of hairspray and combs. The album was an Aquarius Sun, with a definite Virgo Moon, Capricorn Mercury, Sagittarius Venus, and Scorpio Mars. Saturn was in Scorpio, and Jupiter had entered Capricorn literally astrological-seconds before. It’s worth noting that Motley Crue is most likely to have a Gemini Moon, so mercurial Moon seems to be a theme already, at least with who succeeded most within the genre. Nonetheless, the chart of Bon Jovi combines the brooding Scorpion with the pragmatic Seagoat, making for what, in astrology, effectively translates to “serious but sexy,” or “hard rock and hard work.”
Going to Europe, and Europe…
Finding out the chart for Europe was my favourite, because for me, The Final Countdown is the epitome of hair metal, and the main reason I wanted to study this phenomena altogether. Joey Tempest, the singer of Europe, is a Leo Sun and Venus, Libra Mars, and Scorpio Neptune, which is in part what made me certain there was something to be said about the genre’s astrology because… well… is that chart not so perfect for hair metal, huh? For Europe, I could only find their natal year, 1979, so I chose to take into account those transits and also the conception chart of The Final Countdown.
Starting with the 1979 transits, we’ll be looking at the slower moving planets, since it’d be fruitless to use faster planets when we only have a year to look at. In 1979, Uranus was in Scorpio and Pluto was in Libra, like with the other bands. Saturn stayed in Virgo, while Jupiter made its way from Cancer to Virgo. If I ever get a date or month for when Europe formed, all I’m saying is that I hope it was some time between May and September, because Leo Jupiter would just be such a cherry to this whole study.
The album, The Final Countdown, was released May 26th 1986, which was the same day they shot the music video for the song itself. It was recorded in Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States, and released through a record company on the complete other coast to the one it was recorded on in the States. This made choosing a conception location… hard. As you would with solar returns, though, I opted for Sweden, on the basis that the band were also from Sweden.
The Final Countdown is a Gemini Sun, definite Capricorn Moon, Gemini Mercury, Cancer Venus, Capricorn Mars. Saturn was in Sagittarius, as was Uranus, and Pluto had finally made its way into Scorpio. It’s really shaping up to look like Capricorn is the king of glam metal, huh? We also see that repetition of typically Mercurial energy, with the Sun and Mercury both in Gemini, meaning that Mercury is in domicile. Mars, also, is exalted, which further drives the punchy passion that is glam metal in this particular record.
Taking our study to the UK now, we’re finally looking at the chart of Def Leppard. According to their website, they formed in November 1977. While the post is technically labelled as the 30th November, it seems that this fact is not 100% certain other than the month. So, we’re called yet again to the ephemeris, but with more to work with than with Europe.
Look, I’m not saying I told you so in the study background, but… I told you so. On the 18th November 1977, Saturn left Leo, moving to Virgo. Mars was in Leo the whole month, while other planets changed hands. Mercury moved from Scorpio to Sagittarius, while Venus moved from Libra to Scorpio. The Sun, of course, moved from Scorpio to Sagittarius. These signs are all signs we’ve seen repeated beforehand in our study so far, and we’re really only scratching the surface today! A notable difference for Def Leppard is the lack of Capricorn and Virgo, as even if Saturn was in Virgo, this isn’t the same weight as those Mercurial Moons and domicile Mercuries that we saw earlier.
The Big Finale…
I know that technically speaking the biggest glam metal band was Motley Crue, but in my house, Guns N Roses were the 80s rock band that sat closest to heart, so what better way to round up than with one of the most famous bands to come out of this subgenre? Finding a conception chart for them was somewhat difficult. They, like many, came out of mid 80s LA, but the exact month seemed to vary. Some say May, some say June, of 1985. Generally, the conception of the band is within those early months of the year, though. So, what was happening astrologically around that time?
In early 1985, Jupiter changed hands from Capricorn to Aquarius, being solely in Aquarius in May of 1985, while Saturn moved through the final decan of Scorpio. Through all of May 1985, Mars was in Gemini, and Venus was in Aries. These points, to me, solidify the possibility that May was the conception month for Guns N Roses, because we’ve seen that Mercurial and Martian influence is often prominent in our glam metal samples so far. Sometimes, that’s been through rulership, like with Bon Jovi’s debut album having Mars exalted, but here for Guns N Roses, it’s through signs, as Gemini is Mercurial and Aries is Martian.
I actually think there’s something to be said about Aries Venus altogether, as it seems like a relevant parallel to the almost obnoxiously Venusian Motley Crue, with their powerful, indulgent energies saturating the sign of Libra. Venus is in detriment in Aries, as Aries is a Martian sign, typically preferring high energy emboldened sensual experiences. That is, by all stretches of the genre, a pretty good example of what glam metal really was: a heightened, dramatised version of metal gone mainstream, in a groovy and catchy attempt to – according to media opinion – create rock for the young women in the audience, and not solely the male fans.
I bring this back into the discussion because Aquarius Jupiter is somewhat significant for this overall notion. Aquarius is a sign of endurance and free thinking, often devoting to their beliefs and ideas like lungs breathing: pushing in and out what is or isn’t needed to create the breaths of fresh air that they wish to see. In Jupiter, this is expansive, and shows Aquarius tearing down borders and ideals no matter the jabs and jives from the outside world. Aquarius Jupiter makes space for something new, different, and fresh. When I hear about Guns N Roses all these years later, in retrospect, this is what they accomplished, at least in some form, especially with turning that initial “glam metal” label into something wasn’t totally stupid, or embarrassing, or “for the girls.”
Well, half conclusion: as mentioned, this is only scraping the iceberg of astrological fancy with the genres. If anyone would be interested in more of this study, then I’d totally be up to do some! However, I do already see some general conclusions that we can at the least pull from the more famous glam metal scene. We saw Gemini, Libra, Scorpio, and Capricorn repeated throughout a few of these charts, with the generational Scorpio Uranus being practically ever present throughout the conception of glam metal itself, until the later years when the subgenre began to disseminate into general hard rock.
There was also seemingly always a Martian, Mercurial, or Saturnian presence available in the charts, which combines the passion power of Mars, with the wordsmith that is Mercury. When Saturn comes to play into the mix, we can conclude that the planet symbolises the structure and authority that these bands would come to have over this genre and their music circles in general. After all, we’ve only looked into famous examples here today, so where Saturn shines, it could be more symbolic of their “control” over what we now look back on and view of this music phenomena, than the actual curation of the genre itself.
This is definitely no perfect study. This is a quick snapshot of something which, overall, can’t truly be pinned down. However, it has left us with valuable takeaways on how astrology can present itself through musical phases. And it also let us in Geminis, Scorpios, and Capricorns deepest, darkest secret… they really like glam metal. (kidding!)