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10 ’80s Alt-Rock Legends Then and Now

If you grew up in the ’80s, chances are your introduction to alt-rock came via MTV. Back then, music critics and radio programmers dubbed the scene “college rock,” but there wasn’t a particular sound that bonded all of its artists together. Whether it was R.E.M.‘s jangle-pop or Sonic Youth‘s take on noise-rock, the alt-rock movement of the ’80s was a time of wild musical exploration. Music achievements notwithstanding, some of our alt-rock heroes fell victim to the fashion fails of the era. No, the day’s spandex-clad metal dudes weren’t the only ones keeping hairspray companies in business. Today, we look at some of our favorite American alt-rockers of the ’80s to see how they look today.

1. Then: Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes looked exactly like a dude who would sing for a band called the Butthole Surfers.


Now: Haynes could play Walter White in a stage adaption of ‘Breaking Bad.’

Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

2. Then: R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe was bringing the ”80s music store employee’ look to the college rock scene.


Now: Stipe looks like that professor you had in college who didn’t have a problem smoking a doobie with you by the school library.

Brian Ach, Getty Images

3. Then: Indigo Girls Amy Ray and Emily Saliers looked ready for a tailgate party at a Bon Jovi concert.


Now: The duo are much ‘Closer to Fine’ these days.

Rick Diamond / Neilson Barnard, Getty Images

4. Then: B-52’s vocalist Fred Schneider reminded us of another ‘Schneider‘: the handyman from the ’80s sitcom ‘One Day at a Time.’


Now: Find him in the ‘Love Shack’ at the senior center.

Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

5. Then: Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis looked like he celebrated Frank Zappa’s entire catalog.


Now: Mascis looks he played on Zappa’s entire catalog.

Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

6. Then: Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü helped prove you don’t need a ripped physique like Henry Rollins to front a killer punk band.


Now: The svelte rocker could almost be the guy from your local health food store.


7. Then: Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh looked like a cross between Descendents frontman Milo Auckerman and a member of Kraftwerk.


Now: You wouldn’t be blamed for confusing him for a high-end art dealer.

D Dipasupil, Getty Images

8. Then: X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka didn’t look like they’d play in a band together, let alone be married.

YouTube (2)

Now: Despite having divorced in ’85, Doe and Cervenka still play in X, and both have Hollywood ties. He’s a successful actor, while she had a child with Viggo Mortensen in ’88.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

9. Then: 10,000 Maniacs vocalist Natalie Merchant looked like the girl next door who just happened to front a huge alternative rock band.


Now: Merchant appears to have found the Fountain of Youth.

Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

10. Then: Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore were the ‘Kool Thing’ couple of college rock.


Now: They may have broken up in 2011, but Gordon and Moore are still portraits of downtown NYC hipness.

Mike Coppola / Will Ragozzino, Getty Images

Next: ’80s New Wave Stars Then and Now

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