1989 was a big year for classic rock, with some of the genre's biggest stars closing out the decade on very high notes.

Motley Crue got clean and sober, then hit an all-time commercial high with their blockbuster Dr. Feelgood. Neil Young emerged from a largely unfocused decade of genre experimentation with the career-reviving Freedom, and Aerosmith somehow improved on their already impressive Permanent Vacation comeback with the seven-times platinum Pump.

Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan all rebounded from disappointing albums with strong albums in 1989, with Cooper's "Poison" also earning him his first Top 10 hit in over a decade. Tom Petty soared higher as a solo artist, at least in terms of sales and chart position, than he ever had with the Heartbreakers on Full Moon Fever, and once and future Eagles leader Don Henley cemented his solo superstardom with the hit-packed The End of the Innocence. Stevie Nicks also furthered her solo credentials, returning from another successful stint with Fleetwood Mac's most famous lineup to release her fourth straight platinum album, The Other Side of the Mirror.

Of course for many of these artists, particularly those in the hard rock realm, big changes would arrive very shortly thanks to the early '90s grunge revolution. The leading edges of that cultural storm were already hitting record stores in 1989, with Nirvana's first album Bleach and Soundgarden's major label debut Louder Than Love earning critical and peer adoration if not mainstream sales success. They would rule the world soon enough...

35 Albums Turning 35 in 2024

Some of rock's biggest stars ended the '80s with very strong albums.

Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening

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