I never went through a metal phase during my high school years (or at any other time, for that matter).
Oh, I thought some of it was marvelous, simply smashing stuff, but I was never drawn to an album merely because it was an excuse to make devil horns, offer diabolical instructions when played backwards, or had been endorsed on MTV’s Headbangers Ball.
During high school, my friend Chris did have a cassette onto one side he had taped the first album by Men Without Hats; side two, Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast.
In college, though, I shared an apartment with a roommate whom I worked with at a record store. He was an excellent roommate, though, there were moments of friction, but these rifts were limited to the five to seven nights a week that I’d wake him at two in the morning after a night of watching cover bands and having a few drinks.
Between the two of us, I think we had somewhere in the range of five-hundred CDs, which was a staggering amount in 1989/1990. Visitors to our apartment would stand slack jawed and addled before the towering wall of music we had amassed.
(these visitors, usually village lasses charmed by the roommate, would often end up being angry and vengeful once the roommate had moved on, resulting in the need to leave my German Shepherd uncrated to ward off the ones who threatened to break in – no one ever did, but the dog did rip up most of the kitchen linoleum)
This roommate was a metal enthusiast.
Oh, he listened to a lot of different music, but its Danger Danger’s Bang Bang – or is it the other way around – that would end up on a soundtrack of our time together. Or, some rare, early Mötley Crüe self-issued releases on their own Leathür Records imprint.
And, one of the more goofily memorable events of those years was attending a club show – a triple bill of Steelheart, Bullet Boys, and Great White.
(this was a good decade before the last act became infamous)
The tickets were comps, the club was packed, and the roommate and I enthusiastically mocked Bullet Boys’ lead singer and David Lee Roth knock-off Marq Torien as he practiced Roth-like jumps in the parking lot.
The Spinal Tapness of that scene paled to one occurring later as we hung out on the tour bus of Steelheart with their label rep – who had invited us – and a rather dim contingency of cardboard cut-out metalheads.
As Bon Jovi’s relatively recent hit Wanted Dead Or Alive blared from the stereo, one of Steelheart’s members stood in the middle of the bus and hoisted a beer.
Bon Jovi sang of being a cowboy, but riding on a steel horse as opposed to one of the equine variety.
Steelheart guy shook his head in agreement with the words.
“This is like being a cowboy.”
He raised his arms, motioning all around him.
“And this is the steel horse he’s singing about.”
It was a stirring thing to have witnessed.
It must have been how the guys who were present for the invention of fire felt.
The roommate and I still e-mail on occasion. He recently took me to task for posting music by Ray Parker, Jr. So, here’s some hair metal to balance out the universe…
Mötley Crüe – Too Young To Fall In Love
from Shout At The Devil
Mötley Crüe always struck me as being…well, not exactly Mensa candidates. They did have a handful of songs that I thought were good, mindless fun (and Too Young To Fall In Love was accompanied by a bizarrely comical video)
Years later I would actually have a neighbor that was an ex-girlfriend of lead singer Vince Neil.
Ratt – Way Cool Jr.
from Reach For The Sky
While hardly rediscovering fire, Ratt never seemed to suffer from a shortage of insanely hooky songs. I mean, even their album cuts would immediately lodge in my brain upon hearing them.
And, in another odd connection, I own an amp that allegedly belonged to one of the band’s members.
Lita Ford – Kiss Me Deadly
from Back To The Cave
Lita never did much for me, not that I was ever exposed to much of her music aside from a couple of songs. Of course, Kiss Me Deadly was inescapable on the radio and a record store co-worker (not the roommate) would throw on Back To The Cave each and every chance that she got.
And, yes, I actually have a connection to Lita as, years after she had her brief period of success, I would become friends with someone that had been a member of her band during that short heydey.
Scorpions – Still Loving You
from Love At First Sting
Despite my relative disinterest in metal, Scorpions hooked me with their Blackout album and the song No One Like You. Unlike the other acts here, I actually owned several of their albums.
As for a connection to them, I don’t think I have even a tenuous one. However, if I recall correctly, the ex-roommate’s father was a big fan of Still Loving You on which lead singer Klaus Meine cranks the angst, melodrama, and remorse in his vocals to eleven.