Five 1980s bands who broke up too soon

Bands who left us far too early.
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In his marvelous book about the rise and fall of SST Records – Corporate Rock Sucks – author Jim Ruland paints a depressing picture of the transformation of popular music in the 1980s into one more cog in a massive corporate entertainment industry. This wasn’t exactly a shocking development. Music, or any other popular art form, has always existed in a state of struggle between an artist’s impulses and the demands of the marketplace.

The catch-22 is eternal. As an art form grows more and more popular, the likelihood of it becoming subsumed by a bigger entity grows even faster. The conglomeration of music simply mirrored the same trends in film and television and magazines and newspapers.

Specific to music, it was a decade in which once-hallowed phrases like alternative rock and college radio stopped being those things and became something different. Something that could be plotted on a graph and faxed to shareholders. Formats became tighter and more restrictive, in order to better market spots to advertisers. I don’t mean to lay this all at the feet of the 1980s. The trend had been going on before the decade dawned and it would continue unchecked until...well, I’ll let you know when we get to the end. But the ‘80s did seem to pour lighter fluid on the transformation.

Five bands from the 1980s that ended too soon

Musicians responded. They always do. They overcame the obstacles. Perhaps they even needed those obstacles to push back against. Whatever the explanation, they created some enduring music. But not all of them could survive in the new environment.

Last week, we looked at five great bands from the 1990s that, for a variety of reasons, ended too soon. All the bands were fronted by women. Today, we turn to the ‘80s, and we give the boys a turn. Here are five excellent bands who put out some great tunes in the 1980s but didn’t make it (very far) into the next decade.

(SPOILER ALERT: If you’re only here to read about the Smiths, move on. I’ll leave that to others who appreciate them more than I do. But I promise, if you stick around, you’ll find at least one band you will love – or will grow to love in time.)