JOE ELLIOTT: When we did “Photograph,” we went mental. Phil wore a polka-dot top. Steve wore all white. The day before the shoot, I had £25 in my pocket, and I went down Kings Road in London to get some clothes. I found a pair of black pleather trousers that were too short by about four inches, so I bought them, and some leg warmers, which I’d seen in the TV show Fame. When I was done buying the pants and the effeminate leggings, I had £8 left. I walked past a punk rock shop and they had a red-white-and-blue Union Jack shirt in the window for £7.99. It was all I could afford, and it was loud. After that video, the shirt became so iconic that we sold almost 100,000 of them on tour that summer. We couldn’t wait to make the videos. The morning we shot “Photograph” is when I frosted my hair for the first time. When “Photograph” came out, I was a blond bombshell. David Mallet was hilarious. He called everybody “dear boy.” He was very posh, very theatrical. When we turned up to shoot “Photograph” at Battersea Power Station, he’d built that whole set. There was gridding on the floor with lights underneath. It was fantastic. The girls in the cages have become a little dated, but at the time, it hadn’t been done so much, so it worked fine.
DAVID MALLET: Why did I put the girls in a cage? Girls belong in cages, come on.
JANI LANE, Warrant: I was a junior in high school, and when I saw “Photograph,” I was like, Oh my god.
Tannenbaum, Rob; Marks, Craig. I Want My MTV
For whatever the reason, Mel Gibson’s 1981 film The Road Warrior influenced metal video-making in a major way. Videos from two high-profile releases from ’83 (Shout at the Devil and Lick It Up) constructed fantasy worlds that appeared to be set in postnuclear wastelands where it’s always very windy and all the women wear ripped clothes.
Mötley Crüe’s “Looks That Kill” stars a Xena-esque female character who emancipates a corral of strippers, much to the chagrin of the Crüe (who were thereby forced to call on the power of Satan by joining fists and creating a fiery pentagram). Mötley’s “Too Young to Fall in Love” was more of an Asian kung-fu thriller (best remembered for Tommy Lee spitting out a mouthful of rice), but its Escape from New York vibe was very much the same. Meanwhile, KISS sold themselves as warriors who walked the earth for no reason in particular. “Lick It Up,” the first video that showed KISS without makeup, suggests that futuristic women will live underground and eat navy rations— but only KISS can help them rock! Its artistic companion, “All Hell’s Breaking Loose,” evidently takes place at the same time and place but also includes a lot of women fencing.
Klosterman, Chuck. Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota
STEWART COPELAND: In those days, the band had to look the part. Your haircuts and sartorial choices were very much a part of the product. And, led by Sting, we were good at it. We would tease Stingo that he couldn’t walk past a mirror without primping. And he would say, “Fuck off, it’s my job. And yours, too, by the way.”
MARTIN FRY: The record companies weren’t pressuring anyone to look a certain way. That came later. For “The Look of Love” we wanted to cross the visual style of Benny Hill, a really crude slapstick comedian, with An American in Paris. I don’t think Kurt Cobain would have ever put on a striped blazer and sung to a wooden crocodile. There’s a parrot on my shoulder at one point. We were pushing it to the limit, seeing how embarrassed we could get. Art is what you get away with.
JOE ELLIOTT: Rock of Ages was a laugh. I wield this giant prop sword through fiery hallways and then the sword magically turns into a guitar. It’s very Spinal Tap. When I sang ‘All-right,” which sounded a bit like “Owl-right,” Mallet put an owl in the video at that moment.
BRIAN SETZER: My hair was my speciality. If you don’t have cool hair, don’t make a video.