Archive for History

1981: A New TV Station is Born

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by 80smetalman

Not long ago, when I made the “1981 Triumphs and Tragedies” post, I mentioned something that was considered a triumph back then but nowadays, it’s a tragedy. This is the post where I reveal what that is and that is the music television station we all know as MTV.

mtv

 

When MTV first hit the television airwaves in 1981, all and sundry were very excited about a television station that played nothing but music videos. Like the advert said before its launch, music videos twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. What wasn’t there to love? My household wouldn’t get MTV for another two years and I extremely envied those who were able to watch the station before then and from what people told me, MTV was every bit as good as what I thought it was.

Originally, there were five full time VJ’s who kept all that great music back then playing on the air. They were virtually unknown, although I did see Nina Blackwood’s two minute slot in the film “Vice Squad.” But that’s what made it good. There was no pompous musical know it all talking down to us and the music videos they played all seemed to be of good rock quality most of the time, at least. That was why when MTV hit our screens, it was hailed as such a triumph and it stayed that way for the first couple of years.

Original 5 MTV VJ's. Left to right: Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn , JJ Jackson

Original 5 MTV VJ’s. Left to right: Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn , JJ Jackson

It would not be until 1983 when I finally got MTV into my home and it was a big thing for both my sister and me. MTV introduced me to the likes of Motley Crue, Rock Goddess, HSAS and quite a few other acts I can’t think of off the top of my head. When there was a new album or song out, it was this station that gave me the opportunity to see and hear it for myself. The best thing about it was if there was nothing else worth watching on television, MTV was always there to fill the void.

So what happened to it? I will attempt to answer this question as I travel down the road of 80’s metal. For me, the station started going downhill in late 1984 when the too much metal on MTV won out over those of us who felt there wasn’t enough of it. Today, it is nothing like I remember all those glorious years ago and that’s a damn shame. My heart goes out for those who were too young to remember the days to quote Bowling For Soup, “There was music still on MTV.” So, here’s a salute to what was at the time considered state of the art in music entertainment. I will always remember how great it was and not what it has become now. One last thing, I secretly had a crush on Nina Blackwood.

Next post: The Cars- Shake It Up

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Laina Dawes- What Are You Doing Here?

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by 80smetalman

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Not many posts ago, I revealed a book written by Laina Dawes entitled “What Are You Doing Here?” In the book, Ms Dawes tells us of her experiences as a black woman who is into heavy metal, the music she was into and the bands she saw. She also relates the experiences of other African American women who love heavy metal as well as some black female artists who can totally rock. Now that I have read the book in its entirety, I can say that what I read was truly eye opening indeed.

Let me get one thing clear and I know that no one is actually saying this but I am not ashamed of being born white. No one can help the colour of the skin they were born with and that is one reason I take a huge exception to anyone of any race who persecutes human beings who were born of multi- racial parentage. That aside, I am often embarrassed by some of the things my ancestors have done throughout history like slavery, discrimination, the colonization and subjugation of the African continent by Europeans. Now, having read this book, I am ashamed that white, male metal heads could act this way. I have always said that heavy metal could unite the world but after reading I still see that metalheads have a long way to go before we can do this. Furthermore, while I have campaigned against the right wing belief that heavy metal turns you into a criminal and gets you to hate your country, I have also campaigned against the left wing view that our genre of music is sexist and racist. I now know that I may have been wrong because Dawes tells of many experiences of both.

Laina Dawes

Laina Dawes

In “What Are You Doing Here?” Dawes tells quite openly of her negative experiences and some of the positive ones. She had to face down attitudes such as “You think you’re white” as well as the “only one” syndrome being the only black female at many shows. However, the whole time she never comes across was playing the victim. In fact, she tells how she doesn’t let those attitudes stop her enjoying the music she loves and reading some of the acts she’s into, I would love to go to a concert with her. Just no one tell Mrs 80smetalman.

The one thing that is really done well in the book is how she traces the history of rock and metal back to its origins. I began this blog with Jimi Hendrix, (another great black musician who help found metal as we know it today) but she goes back even farther than that to some of the great old blues musicians including BB King. In this case, Laina is absolutely correct in the fact that we as metalheads owe the origins of our music to music originally started by African Americans.

So, I would encourage all to grab a copy of “What Are You Doing Here?” It not only shows us the true origins of our music but also points out that heavy metal still has quite a long way to go before we gain true harmony.

Next post: The Moody Blues- Long Distance Voyager

To buy Rock And Roll Children go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

1981- More Cracks Emerge

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized, video games with tags , , , , , , on December 16, 2013 by 80smetalman

As we have seen, (sorry it’s the teacher in me) 1980 gave us many a great rock and metal album. In fact many of the great all time classics came out in this year. So it was only natural to assume that we should expect more of the same in 1981 and I will endeavour to show that this was the case.

Bezerk

Bezerk

Many changes were a foot in this year in and out of music and with me personally. Space Invaders gave way to Pac Man and the forerunner of Mario with Donkey Kong. However, my game in that year was definitely Bezerk. Loved killing all of those robots and the fact that Evil Otto was indestructible didn’t stop me from shooting at him anyway. America returned to conservative leadership under the presidency of Ronald Reagan but it would be another two and a half years before my mind changed about him. All that aside and I know that this is going to sound very clichéd but I don’t give a rat’s bottom, music got me through 1981. I had some challenging times while serving my country in that year. Without going into too much personal detail, let’s say that I had a lot of sympathy for Joe in a particular Jimi Hendrix song. It was some of the great albums that will be visited here that helped me through the tough times.

1981 wasn’t all doom and gloom. I bought a car that year and although it gave me lots of problems, (putting 24,000 miles in ten months on any car has that effect) my 73 Chevy Nova would be the undisputed party wagon of the year. I bet if someone lifted out the back seat, they would still find a roach or two and I’m not talking about insects. The music was still there to add to that party atmosphere. So, without further wait, I will go onto the great albums of 1981.

Next post: John Lennon- Double Fantasy

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

A Metal Book Worth Reading

Posted in Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by 80smetalman

While I was going through my daily dose of heavy metal google alerts this morning, I can upon a book that sounds fascinating to me. The book is called “What Are You Doing Here?” by Laina Dawes. It tells about the struggle on an African American woman in the world of heavy metal.

When Laina Dawes was eight years-old, she sat in front of her television watching the made-for-television movie “Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park.”  Soon after, her parents gave her Kiss’ Double Platinum record, and later followed an obsession with bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.  Laina Dawes is a bona fide metal head. But her fandom is complicated, though it probably shouldn’t be, by the fact that Laina is a black woman.

During her time in the heavy metal scene, she has experienced a lot of racism and sexism, as well as judgment and hostility from various black communities. Laina Dawes is the author of “What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal” (Bazillion Points, 2013).

Dawes talks with host Frank Stasio about the complicated relationship she has with heavy metal. She says that although heavy metal has in the past been viewed as a white male scene, the music can be powerful for anyone who feels like they need an outlet for anger.

“Heavy metal has always had this stereotype of being a working-class blue collar music for predominantly men who are frustrated by their day job, and want to listen to music to let out their aggressions…” Dawes says. “I think that translates to how people are still drawn to the music…It’s for the positive energy and the positive aggression that you have the ability to let out…and we’re not able to do that in other aspects of their lives.”

Dawes grew up in rural Kingston, Canada, as one of the only black people in her community. Listening to heavy metal was one of only a few things that helped her deal with her frustration and feelings of isolation. 

Dawes tells host Frank Stasio that “the music was what got me through…I never did fit in, and I always felt like an outsider, but I knew that I desperately needed something to make me feel better, and to make me feel more empowered then I did in my everyday life.”

Although heavy metal can be very empowering to its listeners, the scene surrounding it can be very racist and sexist. Dawes spoke to many black women involved in those scenes in their respective communities who survived violence inflicted on them on the basis of their race.

“One of the women I interviewed for the book was knocked unconscious” states Dawes.

“Another girl in Atlanta was chased around the venue by a bunch of skin heads, because they had warned her that she had to leave because they didn’t want her there…And then they stayed so they chased her,” she recalls.  “You get these extreme stories of people violently reacting to your presence.”

And not only has there been push back from white people in the heavy metal scene, but black communities have taken issue with black people’s participation in heavy metal. Dawes explains that listening to heavy metal as a black person is often seen as something that makes you “less black.”

“One of the reasons I’ve faced resistance from various black communities is the [link to culture]. Blues music is not just music, it’s seen as a narrative of the lives of African Americans who came before us…it has a connection to African-American listeners,” says Dawes. “But on the other hand in terms of listening and participating as a fan or musician it should be wide open.”

But there are still black women breaking down barriers and performing heavy metal. Dawes says that her favorite part of this project has been meeting women who challenge the norm with their passion for the genre.

“The best part of this journey is meeting extremely strong women who want to play the music that they’re passionate about and also realize that there are a lot of roadblocks in their way,” Laina reflects. “And for them it’s not about the money. It’s about them being passionate about their art.”

I, for one, am going to read it because I have always battled against the accusations of heavy metal being sexist and racist and I’ve always believed that knowledge is the best weapon.

Great Metal Albums of 1980: Iron Maiden

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by 80smetalman

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God, I still can’t believe that as I go through this journey into metal history just how many magnificent albums, now considered classics there were in 1980. So with no further waffling from me, here’s yet another great album from said year, the self titled debut album from none other than Iron Maiden.

I would not even hear of these metal legends for another two years so like so many of these albums I’m writing about, I didn’t listen to it until after some of their later albums. Still, I can appreciate the fine quality of this album and I hear the hunger they had in their music. Each and every song in the album bears witness to this. There are the classics like “Running Free” and “Phantom of the Opera” but there are also the great non filler ones like “Prowler,” “Iron Maiden” and the rather amusing, (well at least for me) “Charlotte the Harlot.” Had I heard this album in the year I was supposed to have heard, I would have known to expect great things from Iron Maiden and history would prove me right.

I did note something rather interesting when I researched the story behind the album. This was the only Iron Maiden album to feature Dennis Stratton on guitar. From what I’ve read, he was fired because of musical differences in the band. It has been said that his guitar solos were more of the Wishbone Ash melodic sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love long melodic solos from blues based guitarist but I have to agree that it definitely isn’t the style for Maiden. Furthermore, the arrival of punk a few years earlier proved the point that most rockers were getting a little tired of 20 minute long guitar solos no matter how well they were played. Maiden and Priest gave us the shredding in your face guitar solo and I like those just as much.

Track Listing:

1. Prowler

2. Remember Tomorrow

3. Running Free

4. Phantom of the Opera

5. Transylvania

6. Strange World

7. Charlotte the Harlot

8. Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

Paul Di’Anno- vocals

Steve Harris- bass, backing vocals

Dennis Stratton- guitar, backing vocals

Dave Murray- guitar

Clive Burr- drums

One thing that will be stating the obvious as I continue down this metal road as that Iron Maiden will eventually come to dominate the world in the 1980s and there will be many a good album to solidify it. The first piece in the foundation of their superstardom begins with their self titled debut album. Maybe it’s not considered a masterpiece by many, but for Iron Maiden, it was a great place for them to start.

Next post: Ted Nugent- Scream Dream

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Metal Albums of 1980: Black Sabbath- Heaven And Hell

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2013 by 80smetalman

220px-Black_Sabbath_Heaven_and_Hell

Since the 1980s was the golden age of heavy metal and that golden age began with 1980, I thought what better way to pay tribute to it than to kick things off with an album by one of heavy metal’s founding fathers: Black Sabbath. The thing is however, “Heaven and Hell” isn’t just an album, it’s a iconic album destined to go down in history as one of the greatest of all time.

The main question when this masterpiece was first unleashed back in 1980 was would new lead singer Ronnie James Dio fill the void left by Ozzy Osbourne. The answer to that is a resounding “YES!” Now, I am not going to debate who’s the better of these two vocal Gods. They both have different vocal styles but at the same time, their vocals were suited to the needs of Black Sabbath. Dio’s vocals are truly amazing on this album and for Sabbath it proved to the world that there was life after Ozzy. (Although a year later Ozzy would prove there was life after Black Sabbath.) Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I suggesting that this album was all down to Dio. Definitely not! On “Heaven and Hell” Tony Iommi continues to do what he does best on the guitar providing some memorable riffs. “Children of the Sea” definitely comes to mind when I think of that. Geezer Butler and Bill Ward also as always, make the fabulous rhythm section that we all know and love. More reasons why this album is such a classic.

“Children of the Sea” is just one of the brilliant tracks I could name here. There is not a bad song on the album as each one in my mind radiates what pure metal should be. If I named each one here in this paragraph, there would be no need for me to do the track listing as all of the songs make the grade and more.

Track Listing:

1. Neon Nights

2. Children of the Sea

3. Lady Evil

4. Heaven and Hell

5. Wishing Well

6. Die Young

7. Walk Away

8. Lonely Is the Word

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath

Ronnie James Dio- vocals

Tony Iommi- guitars

Geezer Butler- bass

Bill Ward- drums

Additional Musician

Geoff Nichols- keyboards

In my post for the 1978 “Never Say Die” album, I mentioned that Black Sabbath would headline my dream concert. There was a twist to it however and so not to repeat myself for those who have already read that post, I suggest those who haven’t have a read and hopefully, like one reader then, you will be in awe when you think about it. “Heaven and Hell” is one of the reasons why Black Sabbath would headline my dream concert. For me, it one of the cornerstones in the foundation of what we now know and love as heavy metal.

Before I go, I would like to invite all of my readers to share in remembrance with me something that has been with me for nearly three decades. See thirty years ago tomorrow, October 23, marks the tragedy which befell the US Marines in Lebanon when 241 died when a suicide bomber drove a van loaded with explosives into the building there were housed in. This occurred less than four months after I left the marines but I served in that battalion for nearly three of my four years in the service. I know I lost friends on that fateful day. Now, I don’t hate America over this, hell no, but I do think that while America mourned their deaths for a while, they were also too quick to sweep the whole affair under the carpet. It is also why I am now officially beginning work on my next book which will be about the marines in Lebanon. For those who’ve read “Rock And Roll Children,” it will be a prequel to it as the Mitch character from the book will be the main character in the new book. I hate to end this post on such a downer, especially after visiting such an iconic album but I don’t have the time right now to put it as a separate post, so do forgive me for that. To unify these two thoughts, it was a marine buddy from my platoon when I was serving in that battalion who provided me with the first listen of this great album.

Pay tribute to these brave souls

Pay tribute to these brave souls

Next post: Sammy Hagar- Danger Zone

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

1980: Tragedies and Triumphs- Part 2

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2013 by 80smetalman

First of all, I owe a debt of gratitude to KramerTunes for saving me from committing a very fatal error in my first post of Tragedies and Triumphs. How stupid would I have looked if I had gone through 1980 and not mentioned the death of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. His death from asphyxiation caused by too much alcohol intake would shock the rock world to its foundations and resulted in the band calling it a day on the grounds they couldn’t continue without him.

John Bonham

John Bonham

Bonham would serve to be a major influence on not only drummers who were around at the time like Joey Krammer, Roger Taylor and Peter Criss, he continues to influence many a rock drummer to this very day. Drummers like Tommy Lee, Dave Lombardo and Dave Grohl all site John Bonham as their biggest influence as well. He created a legacy for rock drummers that will never die and I feel slightly sick that I won’t be going to see Led Zeppelin tribute band Whole Lotta Led when they come to Stroud this Friday night.

don-1980-Cover

 

Now the triumph. In 1980, the first of what was to be a line of great metal festivals took place at Donington Park near Derby in England on August 16 of said year. Rainbow would be the headliners for this mammoth event and supporting were the likes of Judas Priest, The Scorpions,  April Wine, Saxon and Riot. From what I’ve read and heard from people who were at the event, there were a lot of near mishaps including a pyrotechnics explosion the night before. Plus the rainfall on the previous days cause a quagmire on the actual day. Still, as can be expected, metal won the day and it turned out to be the start of a legacy that would go on for over a decade. (Although it can be argued that it still goes on under the name of Download.)

 

Shot of the first Donington

Shot of the first Donington

If you want to read more about this historic event, click this link:

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/donington-1980.html

Many years have their own triumphs and tragedies and in 1980, the rock/metal world had more than its share. Especially as one more was yet to happen. Still, we can reflect back to the good times and raise a glass to those who left us.

R.IP. John Bonham

Next Post: Thin Lizzy- Chinatown

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London