When I was a kid the first rock group I discovered that no one else listened to was Queen. They had powerful harmonies, great songwriting, and a bombastic sound. Their staging was a ton of multi-colored lights plus fog with an intro track and truly out of this world costumes. Freddie Mercury in skin tight pvc trousers and jacket minus shirt was so cool to me.
Van Halen released their debut album in 1978 when Queen had their album “Jazz” with singles “Bicycle Race”, Fat Bottomed Girls”, and “Don’t Stop Me Now”. From this point I knew I wanted leather pants and a jacket.
Above L-R): Freddie Mercury, Rob Halford, and Paul Stanley are shirtless in leather and pvc jackets & vests. This look would become the heavy metal uniform of the 1980s. Masculine looks with a dose of the feminine.
Bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Scorpions, AC/DC, Rush, Alice Cooper, Rainbow and many others were around with hits and tours. Queen was so good for me that I discovered all these other groups in my teens during the 1980’s. Many of these groups would record their best work during this era.
During the 70’s and 80’s every teen hangout had guys with long hair wearing denim and leather listening to a cassette tape boombox with all of the aforementioned bands blasting away.
1970s Artists That Brought Heavy Rock
Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush, Deep Purple, Queen, AC/DC and more introduced the world to heavy/hard rock.
Jean jackets were covered in patches of favorites like Sabbath and Rush. Some jacket backs were hand painted with album covers that were deemed to have great art:
- Black Sabbath Volume 4
- Deep Purple Machine Head
- Rainbow Rainbow Rising
- KISS Destroyer Love Gun Alive!
- Queen News Of The World and II
- Led Zeppelin ZOSO
- Rush 2112
- Judas Priest Stained Class
- Iron Maiden Iron Maiden (1980)
- Judas Priest British Steel (1980)
- AC/DC Back In Black (10 million copies sold in just USA.)
Vests Minus Shirt
During the 1970’s there were a lot of long haired rockers who were listening to heavy music for the first time. The sound was acid rock or glitter rock. Rockers like Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Paul Stanley, Bon Scott, Iggy Pop, Rob Halford, and Freddie Mercury went shirtless on stage. The stage lights were hot and so were these stars.
Fans were so taken with the image of these new heroes. Vests were popular too. So the backs got painted with album covers; the front with patches. And to show they were genuine rockers these kids went shirtless at hangouts.
The image was and still is considered the ultimate anti-establishment statement.
The electric guitar proved the ultimate weapon to sway the masses to heavy music which thanks to a Steppenwolf lyric, ‘heavy metal thunder’ on “Born To Be Wild” minted this new artform.
Guitar Heroes were born. Ace Frehley (KISS) Brian May (Queen) Jimmy Page (Led Zep).
Edward Van Halen overtook them all.
Metal music was accused of corrupting kids. It had the power of Socratic philosophy and religion too. For followers of this music it was a way of life.
1980’s Glam Metal—Enter The Crue
All Caught In A Mosh—Metallica Arrive
In the 1980’s Heavy Metal became the new bad boy soundtrack; the establishment would suffer a bout of satanic panic. The Parents Music Resource Center or P.M.R.C. would demand stickers on records with ‘explicit content’. Albums got the sticker; musicians like Frank Zappa and Dee Snider testified before Congress.
Bands like Ozzy Osbourne, W.A.S.P., DIO, Motorhead, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue and Iron Maiden plus Judas Priest were accused of devil worship and causing youth suicide.
Metallica get signed by the late Jonny Z at Megaforce. They would become the biggest selling band in America of the 1990s. Globally the band are now second only to Iron Maiden!
Seen here (Top L-R): The 1984 Line-up, bass player Jason Newsted (1989), Bottom Left is their debut album. On the right their breakthrough going platinum. Bottom Right is today’s line-up with bassist Robert Trujillo from band Suicidal Tendencies.
21st Century Metal Is Global
Today in the new century metal has the same effect on people young and old. The image is still popular around the world in countries where people are oppressed by authority. In the Islamic countries metal bands are underground but they play and trade recordings.
All of the bands from the 1970s and 1980s toured the globe thus inviting millions of people to the party.
Festivals like Wacken in Germany, Bloodfest in France, Download in England, and Rockfest in Sweden are sold out year after year.
Heavy Metal is power. Masculine with some femininity with bands wearing make-up.
Judas Priest are Inductees In Rock Hall Of Fame For ‘Musical Excellence’ in 2022! Ghost (Sweden) are dominating the metal scene today. Metal never dies.
JP celebrate their 50 years in metal on tour this year!
Bad Boys Running Wild
Heavy metal allows for breaking all the rules. The music excites your senses. Electric guitar is such a great sound. Every player that comes along adds something new like Herman Li of Dragonforce, a power metal band from England.
It provides a space to experience freedom from authority. Black leather and denim is the style of choice since Judas Priest then Metallica wore it. When you get into it as a teenager you never lose sight of how great you feel when listening to it. Your are forever linked with artists and fans alike who love this artform as much as you do.