It’s pretty amazing that classic rock artists have escaped the 70s, 80s and 90s without being electrocuted. After all, one of the most common tropes in music videos of the time – besides diaphanous scarves, quick editing and, shall we say, separate hairstyles – was the rain. Rain buckets, indeed, where some clips are concerned. Videographers often seemed happy to put the world’s biggest rock stars in a position where they could get thoroughly soaked, all for the sake of the art.
Of course, sometimes it made sense to have rain in a video, especially in cases where song titles mention rain. (Most notably, Guns N’ Roses and Bruce Hornsby and the Range.) Many times artists found themselves in adverse weather conditions for no good reason other than it established good faith bad temper (the Rolling Stones) or created , uh, a plot move (Paul McCartney and Wings). And, to be honest, we can’t explain why anyone made the jaw-dropping decision to put Eric Clapton and his band in the pouring rain to film the 1989 video for the song “Pretending.”
But rain can also be an unparalleled dramatic element. Take U2, whose breakthrough performance in the United States in 1983 took place in the magnificent Red Rocks Amphitheater on a cold, rainy night with such terrible weather that the concert almost did not take place. Nonetheless, the members of U2 pulled together and weathered the proverbial storm, and put on an all-star concert that remains a fan favorite to this day.
Grab your umbrella and don some galoshes: here are the 11 best rain-soaked classic rock videos.