When Metal Ruled in 1986


One aspect of 1986 which I found very amusing was in spite of the fact that heavy metal received very little air play on commercial radio or MTV, metal albums sold by their millions and the top metal bands and even some which were not considered top played to packed arenas. What some radio stations and MTV did to address this was to give heavy metal its own slot sometime in the day or week. MTV ran a half hour slot between two and two-thirty in the afternoon where they would only show metal videos and the MTV music news was devoted to metal news. While this half hour slot only showed six videos, (remember this was American television and one had to account for all the commercials), there was a good mix of old and new metal songs. There would be classics from Dio and Iron Maiden then, I would watch the latest offerings from David Lee Roth, Krokus, Bon Jovi and it was here I learned about some band called Europe. That’s a story for another post.

Radio was already ahead of MTV. In 1985, while driving home from seeing Motley Crue and Loudness in concert on a Saturday night, a Philadelphia radio station, WYSP, had a one hour programme beginning at midnight called “Metal Shop.” When possible, many metalheads would be glued to their radios to listen to it. It was hosted by a deejay called Mean Ed Green who knew his metal. When there was a concert on the Saturday or Sunday, Mean Ed would have members of the opening band as guests on the show. I remember being treated to Loudness, Bon Jovi, Dokken and Metallica. It was a great way to spend an hour.






Bon Jovi



Another way in which metal stuck it to MTV in 1986 was when the station had a six o’clock segment where they would show the ten most requested videos on the day. Every day, at least half of those videos would be from metal bands. Even when MTV tried to change tactics and brought in a rule that the videos had to be recently released songs, it did not stop half of the top ten being comprised of metal videos. Here are two I remember making the top ten quite a bit at the time, the latter often being number one!

It wasn’t only in the US where this phenomenon occurred. When I got over to the UK, I found the same thing happening there. MTV hadn’t made it across the Atlantic in 1986 but commercial radio played very little metal. Only if a song got into the charts, usually Iron Maiden. Then in November of said year, that band called Europe hit number two in the charts with “The Final Countdown” while at number seven was Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” where they made their first appearance on the TV show, “Top of the Pops.”

One more amusing point from 1986 was that 1970s Canadian rock legends Bachman- Turner- Overdrive (BTO) made an attempted comeback in that year. They toured North America supporting Van Halen. However, they didn’t make their anticipated impact. My friend summed them up when he labelled them, “fat, burnt out 40 year old bikers.”


In spite of efforts from commercial radio and MTV to stifle heavy metal, it not only flourished in 1986 but grew exponentially. I have the albums and concert memories to prove it.

Next post: Metal Tragedies in 1986



































































22 Responses to “When Metal Ruled in 1986”

  1. Living in Canada our video station played nowhere near the metal MTV did back then. We had to go to a buddies house who had a huge satellite dish to watch MTV to get our fix.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Are you counting Europe as a metal band?

    Liked by 1 person

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