Top 8 '80s Artists to Take Home to Meet the Parents...

Only If You Wish to Make Mom Shriek or Cause Dad to Stroke Out

Like a mighty pendulum swinging, '80s music encompassed artists stretching from one extreme to another and all regions in between. Sometimes all at the same time. So, to help balance out the plentiful artists of the era known for clean-cut appearance and apple-pie wholesomeness, the '80s also harbored a number of artists that through image, behavior and style (often in combination) represented the threatening side of humanity. Here's a list of such artists that would surely inspire phone calls to the authorities if you ever invited them over for dinner with the family.
01
of 08

Lemmy Kilmister - Motorhead

Michael Putland/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

I'd like to see the face of the last guy who gave Motorhead bassist, frontman and all-around bad-ass Lemmy a hard time about the distinctive mole on his face and the general consensus that's he something less than an Adonis. Actually, on second thought, one of the many reasons I don't work in a hospital is I don't ever want to witness that kind of carnage. For all I know, Lemmy could be a sweet, gentle Englishman in a dinner party setting, but I don't think most parents would wait long enough to find out if their daughter brought him home. Take the group's legendarily loud, aggressive music out of the equation, and Lemmy still strikes an imposing figure that would render jacket and tie irrelevant. Just go ahead, Mom, overcook the meat.

02
of 08

King Diamond - Mercyful Fate/King Diamond

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Roadrunner Records

I don't know if anyone knows what he looks like under the makeup, but thanks to years of savvy self-marketing and a consistent promise of menace in his showmanship and music, King Diamond has rarely allowed people to wonder. His nearly 30-year career as one of heavy metal's most room-shaking, glass-threatening vocalists has acted as one of the primary apparent links between the occult and rock music. The question of whether or not the Danish singer's obsession with evil is Satanic or even entirely genuine hardly matters when one imagines the King being asked to pass the potatoes by innocent Little Sis. The image of this guy shaking hands with his date's father and making small talk about baseball highlights is about as surreal as it gets.

03
of 08

Blackie Lawless - W.A.S.P.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Snapper Records

One of L.A. metal's nastier-edged bands and therefore one of the era's most controversial yet little-heard groups, W.A.S.P. never even really considered jumping on the hair metal train. Not that they ever probably had a choice, given Lawless' on-stage countenance that suggests total demonic possession. Still, the thing about many of '80s hard rock's prominent frontmen is that on an intellectual level, they almost always defy the big, dumb reputation of the genre. If only any parents on the planet would allow it, there would probably be a good conversation or two to be had with Mr. Lawless while enjoying refreshing cordials on the front porch. Music warning labels, anyone?

04
of 08

Rick James

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Motown Records

Let's step away from hard rock for a moment to give a deserving nod to one of R&B's original bad boys, who both personified and had a strong affinity for "the kind you don't take home to Mother." Aside from a truly unique approach to funk, for which he is often underrated, James was always known as a drug user with more than a few behavioral slip-ups to go with his habit. During the '80s James had long been legendary for both his already two-decade career in music as well as his erratic, drug-fueled brushes with the law of the type now routinely chronicled in tawdry tabloids. As far as offending parents goes, James was a consistent, across-the-board success, with or without the dreadlocks and formative bling (a phenomenon not yet named).

05
of 08

Roger Miret - Agnostic Front

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Sailor's Grave Records

As much as making judgments based on appearance constitutes a lousy approach to everyday living, it fits this process pretty well. And as far as intimidating appearances go, it's really tough to outdo the tattooed fierceness of this frontman for New York-based hardcore band Agnostic Front. One of the genre's most aggressive bands, Agnostic Front pulled off a really nice coup when it picked up the British singer in 1983. Miret has remained an important figure in the hardcore community ever since, serving as one of the earliest artists to combine the fury of hardcore with the precision of heavy metal. But Miret's span of influence would not keep Dad from swiftly arming himself if an argument over pizza toppings began to feel remotely likely.

06
of 08

Wendy O. Wilson - The Plasmatics

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Wow Records

To avoid the impression that only male dates have the capacity to scare the hell out of parents, it's almost too obvious to focus on Plasmatics lead singer and overall shy wallflower Wendy O. Williams. Combining a buxom sexuality that felt like burlesque on methamphetamine-laced steroids with an affinity for flamboyant, violent imagery, Williams will always reign supreme as one of rock music's most breakneck performers, right down to the sensationalistic final spiral of her life. Her 1998 suicide ended Williams' chaotic life suddenly, but perhaps there's never been a female rock star worse-suited to meet the folks than the chainsaw-wielding, push-up-bra-eviscerating Williams. The term "bombshell" has never been more literally personified.

07
of 08

G.G. Allin

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Orange Records
This most extreme of shock rock purveyors enjoyed many glaring distinctions from anyone with whom he might appear in a list or police lineup, but he's the only one of his peers here that might pose an actual sanitation concern if he popped in for a dinner party. And don't think I'm speaking ill of the dead, either (Allin overdosed in 1993 after years of promising an on-stage suicide), as it's merely a statement of fact that anyone who handles feces as much as Allin did requires more than Lava soap to wash up for a meal. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then look this guy up at your own risk. If you do, you need put little effort into imagining the chaos and panic that would ensue if Allin showed up at your door with a corsage.
08
of 08

Eazy-E - N.W.A.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Relativity Records

As one of the most visible and successful early practitioners of the developing hip-hop subgenre gangsta rap, Eazy-E led the way for the form to reach a mass audience by the late '80s and early '90s. While many of his contemporaries from Ice Cube to Dr. Dre to Ice T could probably fill this slot just as aptly, I decided to spotlight Eazy-E because of the rapper's high popularity among suburban white teens, a fact that struck a particularly high-profile fear into parents. I can't profess to be a well-versed historian in hip-hop, but I was of the suburban, Caucasian persuasion (to no one's shock here) and can attest to the unease that would have inevitably risen in such a neighborhood if Eazy-E ever came a-courtin'.