Fine in principal, but not quite in practice; The Heavy Metal crowd consistently ruled much of the 80’s, which is why there was ‘alternative music’ back then.
The new bands took the rock posturing of KISS but left the humour behind and the ageing arena bands slunk out from under their rocks and carried on as though nothing had ever changed. But the young and hungry bands with stamina, attitude and very tight pants, gathered under the banner NWOBHM – New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.
Metal Mothers II, Metal Explosion, Heavy Duty and The New Electric Warriors‘ compilations all followed within the space of a year, and Iron Maiden‘s self-titled debut album was hailed as the hottest metal album of the year and went Top 5 in Britain.
In August 1980, in the middle of a Leicestershire race course, Britain’s annual Metal mud bath – The Castle Donington Monsters of Rock festival – was born. It was fathered by ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who wanted an appropriate outdoor event for his band Rainbow to play that summer. Evidently Blackmore had lived abroad so long that he’d forgotten what English summers were like – A week of torrential rain turned the site into a giant swamp.
Rainbow were joined on the bill by Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Saxon and April Wine. Reviews of the Heavy Metal festival were dreadful, but it still went ahead the following year, and every other throughout the Eighties, with audiences ranging from 60,000 to 100,000 – Except for 1989 when it was cancelled after the deaths by crushing of two fans during the Guns ‘n’ Roses set the year before.
Throughout the decade, Heavy Metal inspired headbangers, suicides, and the kids who occasionally went feral and shot up their high school class.