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Rocklahoma: Still Hair Metal After All These Years

Welcome to the festival where Eighties hair bands and those who love them gather to headbang and ponder the passage of time

December 27, 2007 9:00 AM ET
Rocklahoma: Still Hair Metal After All These Years
Photograph by Peter Yang

First thing you learn at Rocklahoma: All these glam-metal bands gossip like high school girls. Especially where hair is concerned. The bitchiest story I hear backstage, no doubt a vicious and evil lie, concerns a member of Britny Fox who was playing "Girlschool" when his wig popped off — it was attached with an elastic chin strap, like a party hat. The most outlandish story comes from a guitarist who shall remain nameless, who tells me about the dude from another band getting out of the shower and discovering a groupie's dog had eaten his hairpiece.

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These guys know their hair. They have to. Growing up in rock & roll is tough for anybody, a little like trying to stay sixteen your entire life, but it's really a bitch for the hair-metal guys. Other kinds of rock stars can age discreetly, one step at time, trimming their thinning hair, wearing baggy clothes or suits to hide their paunch, but not these bands. These are the stars who hit it big in the Eighties with Marshall stacks and Aqua Net coiffures. Bands who sang cheddar-splendent three-chord anthems about partying all night, sleeping all day and refusing to grow up. And after twenty years, they're all here, at the first annual Rocklahoma, the first festival ever dedicated to the celebration of glam in all its spandex glory.

This article appeared in the December 27, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

Over the course of a mid-July weekend, 100,000 fans will gather in a giant field on the outskirts of Pryor, Oklahoma. We are here to rock with our Sunset Strip sleaze-metal guitar heroes. We shall feel the noize of Ratt, Poison, Quiet Riot, Slaughter — and that's just the first day. Saturday night's headliner is a solo set from Vince Neil; Sunday night it's Twisted Sister in what could be their absolute final farewell full-makeup performance. We will party with Skid Row, Winger, Warrant, Bang Tango, Britny Fox, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat, whose lead singer, Taime Downe, is still capable of dispensing decadent ontology, like "When I die, take my ashes to the strip bar and throw them on the biggest pair of tits you see." Whitesnake didn't show, but White Lion are here, and so are Great White. Right now, Pryor is the hub of the glam galaxy. This is definitely where the down boys go — even if they're down men by now.

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Some of the bands have still got it; others don't. Some have the original lineups; most don't. But everybody is here to celebrate the same thing. It's the only rock festival I've ever seen where most of the bands are hanging out the whole weekend, even checking out one another's sets. Guy after guy tells me the same thing: "It's like a high school reunion." Old friends are catching up. Everybody brought wives and kids. L.A. Guns vocalist Paul Black says, "All these bands — we hated each other when we were competing in the clubs. But now, if we don't support each other, take care of each other, who will?" So the glam tribes have gathered to show solidarity in the face of a cold, cruel world. Like Skid Row's guitarist says, "Everybody who thought this music was dead gets their asses kicked this weekend." Everybody's in the same boat. Slaughter, Ratt and Skid Row are in the same boat, literally — they're on board with Vince Neil's Motley Cruise, which sets sail in January.

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