Heavy Duty: Lesser-Known Facts About Famous Metal Artists
While there are many sub-genres in the world of heavy metal music, many consider these separate styles to be part of the same devil-horned family. Drawing influence from the rock and roll musicians before their time, metal bands have grown exponentially over the past decades, making quite a reputation for the genre and uniting “metal heads” under the same flag. While it’s clear the effect metal has had on the music world, it wouldn’t have been possible without the individuals that either started or continue to help keep the tradition alive. Now, take a look at some of the lesser-known facts and stories about your favorite metal artists for a behind-the-scenes peek into their lives and legends.
Learn how the sound of heavy metal guitar came about due to a harmful accident.
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple Was The Original Jesus In Jesus Christ Superstar
Ian Gillan is an English singer and songwriter, most notable for being the lead singer and lyricist for the band Deep Purple. In addition to his work in bands, he also sang the role of Jesus in the original recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. His music career began in the mid-1960s, where he fronted several local bands until he eventually joined Deep Purple in 1969.
It was during this time that he also found work in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera. However, his name is usually overlooked, since the role of Jesus is often associated with Ted Neely, who played him in the film.
Jon Schaffer Started Playing Heavy Metal Music In Response To His Abusive Pastors
Jon Schaffer is an American heavy metal musician and the rhythm guitar and last remaining original member of the group Iced Earth. Introduced to rock and roll by the age of three, he decided before he was 11 that he wanted to make rock and roll music for a living. However, he was sent to a Lutheran school for five years where he developed a lot of anger and rebellious tendencies because of the abusive behavior of his pastors.
One of them even shoved a bar of soap down Schaffer’s throat after he dared to ask about evolution versus creationism. According to Schaffer, this led him to form a band so that he could “prove these people wrong.”
A Bodily Injury Led To The Creation of Heavy Metal Guitar
At the age of 17, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi was working in a factory where one day he was assigned to a station he was unfamiliar with. He accidentallyput his hand in the wrong spot and ended up losing the tips of his middle and ring fingers. After being told he would never play the guitar again, he created prosthetic fingertips for himself, using strips of an old leather jacket.
His homemade prosthetic fingertips affected his playing style as well as the sound of his guitar. He was also able to bend the strings of the instrument to made the now-distinct sound of Black Sabbath, and heavy metal was born.
You’ll never guess which death metal guitarist is now a golf coach at a country club.
“Dimebag” Darrell Abbot Wasn’t Born A Guitarist
Even after passing away in 2004, Dimebag Darrell is still considered to be one of the most renowned heavy metal guitarists of all time. However, he didn’t always love playing the guitar, and it wasn’t his first instrument either. As a child, he was given the choice between a guitar or a BMX bike for his birthday, he chose the latter. Not long after, he began mastering the drums until he finally decided to pick up a guitar.
After learning a few back rock and roll riffs, he and his brother Vinnie started their first band in 1981, Pantera’s Metal Magic. The band would eventually become just Pantera, which is now considered one of the greatest metal bands to ever step on stage.
Hatebeak’s Lead Singer Is A Parrot
The death metal band Hatebeak has an unusual lead singer: a 27-year-old parrot named Waldo. Because of this, the band has never actually toured on had live performances because the other two members of the group are afraid that the decibel levels at a show might be harmful to the bird’s hearing.
Amazingly, this isn’t the only non-human frontman in the metal scene. The grind band Caninus has two pit bulls named Basil and Budgie as their lead singers. As you can imagine, both bands are as eclectic as their “lead singers.”
Iron Maiden Experienced Some Strange Phenomenon While Recording Number of the Beast
While Iron Maiden was recording their 1982 album Number of the Beast, the band claims they experienced some unnerving coincidences and situations that they felt were connected to the content of their album. One of the most chilling things to happened was when producer Martin Birch got into a car accident.
Although he was okay, what caught his attention was the receipt he received for his car repairs. Bassist Steve Harris recalled that “The bill came out to £666 […] He was so freaked out that he insisted the garage charged him £667.” Looks like Number of the Beast really took its toll on the band.
Megadeth Was Awarded The Human Society Genesis Award
In 1992, thrash metal band Megadeth released its fifth studio album Countdown to Extinction. With all band members contributing to the songwriting in the album, it is considered to contain some of the band’s best works such as “Symphony of Destruction,” “Sink o’ My teeth,” and more.
The album’s title track “Countdown to Extinction” was recognized by the Human Society of the United States during the 1993 Humane Society Genesis Awards. The band was presented with the Doris Day Music Award for raising awareness about animal rights and the dangers of poaching.
Lemmy Kilmister Couldn’t Have His Blood Altered Like Keith Richards
While there has been a rumor circulating around for decades that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards had his blood switched out (like an oil change but with blood) in order to quit heroin, it’s been confirmed as false. Most likely what really happened was that he underwent a procedure known as hemodialysis in order to filter the toxins from his blood.
It was probably just easier to say that he had his drug-laced blood replaced with clean blood, and it also makes for a unique story. Supposedly, whenMotörhead singer Lemmy Kilmister asked to have a similar procedure done, the doctors claimed that his blood was so toxic that to alter it in any way might end up killing him.
Former Cannibal Corpse Guitarist Bob Rusay Is Now A Golf Instructor
Cannibal Corpse is an American death metal band known for their over-the-top and horrific descriptions of torture and death. They have been banned from performing in several countries with the display or selling of their albums being outlawed in numerous others.
After being kicked out of the band in 1993, guitarist Bob Rusay turned his attention to living a more “normal” life. He went on to marry and had two children, and started a career in golf. He received his teaching certification from the United States Golf Teachers Federation and became a teacher at Western Skies Golf Club in Gilberg, Arizona. While he used to sing about mutilated body parts, he now helps people work on their short game on the course.
Read on to find out which band had an extremely close call with an active volcano.
Manowar Vs. Twisted Sister
In a 1983 interview, loin-cloth wearing metal band Manowar commented on Twisted Sister, calling them “sissy boys in makeup.” When this insult reached the ears of Twisted Sister’s members, they did not take it kindly and wanted to settle the score. So, they challenged Manowar to a street brawl in England.
Word got around town and a group of spectators came up to show their support. Twisted Sister arrived in jeans and leather expecting a fight. Manowar never showed up. This was most likely the smart decision of their manager to not let them get arrested just to prove a point.
Zoltán Báthory Is A Skilled Martial Arts Master
Five Finger Death Punch guitaristZoltán Báthory is much more than just an axe-man. In his private life Zoltan is a martial artists, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor. He has been featured in numerous martial art magazines and has proven his skill in competition many times over.
Zoltán has won the silver medal at the Abu-Dhabi Pro Jiu-Jitsu World Trials, the North American Grappling Championship, and placed 3rd at the 2012 Masters World Championship in his division. He is also one of the few United States civilians certified by the US Army as an L1 Modern Army Combative Instructor for Close Quarter Combat.
“You Just Got Lucky” Was Filmed On An Active Volcano That Almost Erupted
For heavy metal band Dokken’s 1984 song “You Just Got Lucky,” the band wanted to film George Lynch’s guitar solo on a real volcano while touring in Hawaii. While filming, the seismic activity in the area began to increase and steam began to rise from the ground, making it difficult for them to breathe.
Apparently, Lynch and the film crew could even feel the heat rising through their shoes but continued filming. As the sun went down, park rangers came and told them to leave immediately. While they were on the plane getting out of the area, the volcano erupted and the film crew spent more time flying around it trying to get extra footage.
Find out which metal band holds the record for the world’s shortest song.
Tool’s Guitarist Adam Jones Worked In The Film Industry
Ranked as the 75th Greatest Guitarist of all time by the Rolling Stone, Adam Jones is far more than a heavy metal guitarist. Prior to joining Tool, Jones was offered a film scholarship but declined it in order to study art and sculpture in Los Angeles.
He then began started working in film as sculptor and special effects designer, learning many of the skills he would later use for Tool’s music videos. Jones went on to do set design and makeup for major Hollywood films such as Jurassic Park, Dances With Wolves, Ghostbusters II, and more. It wasn’t long after that he turned his attention to music.
Marty Friedman Became A TV Host In Japan After Megadeath
During the 1990s, Marty Friedman was the lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Megadeath, releasing five albums with the group. After leaving the band in 2000, he moved to Japan where he appeared regularly on Japanese TV and was a contributing columnist to various regional music magazines and national newspapers.
Since he spoke Japanese, he became a cast member of TXN’s music TV program Mr. Heavy metal. He also had his own heavy metal TV show called Rock Fujiyama. He continued his work in the Japanese television industry on the show Jukebox and was even cast in Isshin Inudo’s film Gou-Gou Datte Neko de Aru.
Napalm Death Is In The Guinness Book Of World Records For The Shortest Song Ever Recorded
The track “You Suffer” is by British grindcore band Napalm Death. The song is off of the group’s debut album Scum and is exactly 1.316 seconds long. It was written by Nicholas Bullen, Justin Broadrick, and Mick Harris during the demo sessions for From Enslavement to Obliteration.
Band member Justin Broadrick has shared this about the song: “‘You Suffer'” was largely a comedy thing, one-second song. Utterly [explicit]. It’s ridiculous, but it was hilarious. We played that song in front of 30 local kids, like, every weekend. We played that song 30 times. It was a laugh.” The song helped the band get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest song ever recorded.
You’ll never guess what Slipknot’s Corey Taylor likes to listen to in his free time.
Metallica Began With A Newspaper Advertisement
Metallica formed in Los Angeles in 1981 after drummer Lars Ulrich placed an ad in the Los Angeles Newspaper, The Recycler. The ad read, “Drummer looking for other metal musicians to jam with Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head, and Iron Maiden.” Guitarist James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner of Leather Charm saw the advertisement and reached out to Ulrich.
Although the musicians weren’t yet a band, Ulrich asked Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records if they could record a track for the labels upcoming compilation Metal Massacre. Slagel gave the go-ahead and Ulrich recruited Hetfield to play rhythm guitar and sing. The band was officially formed five months after Ulrich and Hetfield met.
Bruce Dickinson Is No Amateur At Fencing
Bruce Dickinson is widely regarded as one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time, having a long on-and-off relationship with the iconic band Iron Maiden. However, before he blessed the metal community with his signature vocal style, he was one of the best fencers in Britain.
Starting as a young child and into his early 20s, Dickinson honed his craft until he became ranked the seventh best in the nation. In 2013, he competed against the 2012 fencing Olympian Bartosz Piasecki. Although Dickinson lost, Piasecki admitted that the Iron maiden frontman definitely had some sparring skills.
Corey Taylor Is A Sucker For Musicals
While most people may think that Slipknot lead singer Corey Taylor spends his days blasting heavy metal music in a dark basement, that’s not necessarily the case. Slipknot isn’t just known for their music, but also their use of theatrics on stage, which is partially inspired by Taylor’s love for musicals and the theater.
Taylor is very open about his love for musicals and notes that his favorite one, hands-down, is Les Misérables. He loves reading the books, watching the shows, and listening to the soundtracks in his free time. He’s even admitted that some musicals bring him to tears when he listens to them.
The Nickname “Ronnie The Dwarf” Was An Insult To Ronnie James Dio
In 1981 and 1982, Ozzy Osbourne went on tour to promote his albums Diary of a Madman and Speak of the Devil. During his performances, he was joined on stage by little person and stage actor John Edward Allen. Allen would routinely be “executed” on stage during these performances and was also featured on the inside of the album Speak of the Devil, dressed as an undead disciple of Ozzy.
However, Ozzy didn’t refer to Allen by his name, but instead nicknamed him “Ronnie the Dwarf,” as a direct slight at Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath’s new lead singer. Of course, Ozzy later faced legal trouble due to his treatment of Allen, which some saw as demeaning and insulting.
Judas Priest Fans Were Outraged By The Simpsons
In a 2014 episode of The Simpsons, the show creators accidentally categorized the band Judas priest as “death metal.” This did not sit well with the band or their die-hard fans at all. An onslaught of disapproval from fans of the genre and the band poured in, making it very clear that the show had made an unforgivable mistake.
In order to make up to the disgruntled metal fans, the next episode featured Bart Simpson writing “Judas Priest is not ‘death metal'” on the blackboard that opens every show.