Happy Friday the 13th! For today’s Effing Metal Friday we’re going to look at some of metal’s biggest, weirdest, or lamest controversies. Put a bunch of metal guys in a van or tour bus, cart them around the universe, playing shows, bleeding cash, meeting fans, and partying like there’s no tomorrow, and controversy is inevitable. Metal fans have watched some weird, funny, and downright disturbing shit go down. We’ve seen death, beatings, lies, Napster blow outs, and even my favorite metal controversy: playing records backward to reveal hidden messages to/from SATAN! I think Roger, Eddie’s friend from the 1986 film, Trick or Treat, nailed it when he stated backmasking was created by record company executives to sell more records after fans play them backwards, effectively wrecking your copy of Kiss’ ‘Love Gun’.
So, with this, I give you some of metal’s most effed up controversies.
And, no, we don’t consider Opeth putting out two, back to back albums without growling vocals to be controversial.
Motley Crue’s Vince Neil is a Murderer:
In late 1984, living large from the success their second album, Shout at the Devil, Vince made a Los Angeles liquor store run with Hanoi Rocks drummer, Nick “Razzle” Dingley. Neil was touting a blood alcohol level of 0.17 when he collided with another vehicle, killing Dingley and severely injuring the other car’s occupants, even leaving one victim brain-damaged. Neil was charged with vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to 30 days in jail, $2.6 million in restitution, and 200 hours of community service. Vince only spent 15 days in jail. But, hey, things worked out because Motley Crue dedicated their atrocious album, Theater of Pain, to the dead Dingley. Not only dead, but now he has to have this shitpiece of a “metal” album dedicated to him. Bravo, Vince, Bravo. You were terrible on Ghost Adventures, you fat, chicken dancing asshole. Here’s a song from ‘Shout at the Devil’ that I loved when I was still young and impressionable. Enjoy the hairspray and Satanism.
Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe charged with Manslaughter in Czech Republic:
Randy Blythe, the brutal voice fronting Lamb of God, was arrested in the Czech Republic in June 2012 and later charged with manslaughter. Lamb of God performed a Czech Republic show in 2010 where a 19 year-old-fan, Daniel Nosek, jumped onstage only to be shoved into the crowd by Blythe. The Prague Municipal Court found Randy not guilty on March 5, 2013 and fans breathed a sigh of relief as well. Even with his victory, metal was dragged through the ringer, with officials citing metal concerts and metal culture as inherently violent. I think any educated metal fan would agree that violence is out there, but most metal heads are a laid back bunch.
I spent a few years in a gigging metal band and I know aggression is obviously out there. I’ve literally been to hundreds of concerts and I can attest to the tremendous sense of community. Metal fans are some of the best people around, always quick to offer a beer and share a list of bands they love. Keep it classy, metal.
Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Suicide Solution’ blamed for Suicide:
Nineteen-year-old John McCollum of Indio, California, fatally shot himself in October of 1984 while listening to an Ozzy Osbourne song titled ‘Suicide Solution‘. McCollumn’s parents brought legal action against Ozzy, stating he was to blame for their son’s death. They believed the song contained a hidden message: “get the gun and try it, shoot, shoot, shoot.“. Ozzy defended the song against the accusations of hidden messages, stating the song was an open argument against suicide; written about his friend and fellow musician. The judge ruled the song contained no power to incite such an act, and the case was dismissed. While Osbourne saw his fair share of low points, the aging musician has enjoyed paramount success to this day. The 2013 Black Sabbath album ’13’, hit number one on the Billboard charts. Long live Ozzy.
The “offensive” Mastodon ‘Thanksgiving’ shirt:
Taking the top spot for ridiculousness in this list, Mastodon pissed off good ‘ol ‘Merica with their stylistically Mastodon-esque Thanksgiving t-shirt. Shown above, a Pilgrim levels a gun at a buxom Indian girl who’s submissively offering up some hot turkey action. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that we’re so sensitive as a society that we can’t possibly stand to think about America’s glorious roots. Remember that one time when we sailed over to America and just killed off the natives because we thought this place was the shit? That basically happened. “No, thanks,” America says, “let’s just bitch about this offensive shirt.”
When declared racist and hateful, the band responded with this nugget of truth:
“Regarding our thanksgiving shirt, whether you choose to believe or not, the American Indians were massacred by the white settlers who became the Americans we are today. this shirt represents this atrocity and celebrating in the face of this atrocity is chilling.
We may have a sick sense of humor, but we are far from being “Racist” as some of you who might not get it are calling us.”
Seriously, America, pass the giblets.
Iron Maiden are Satan Worshipers:
This one is pretty funny considering how down to earth and relaxed these Brits are. Iron Maiden’s 1982 album ‘The Number of the Beast‘ wasn’t exactly subtle. First of all, it was titled THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST. Hello, Pat Robertson? Yes, this is God, we have a situation in England. The band’s iconic mascot, Eddie, is towering over Satan, literally pulling his strings. Christian groups hit DEFCON 1 in seconds flat when their kids brought this colorful album at the local Musicland.
Fundies took to the road, following Iron Maiden on some kind of fucked up reverse-Grateful Dead tour. Organizers protested ‘The Beast on the Road’ tour, handling out fliers, stern warnings, even carrying a massive 25′ cross to the venue property. Handing equal portions ill-informed stupidity and publicity, it prompted Maiden to speak out. Bassist, Steve Harris, had this to say:
“It was mad. They completely got the wrong end of the stick. They obviously hadn’t read the lyrics. They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists.”
Iron Maiden became one of the hugest metal bands ever and ‘The Number of the Beast’ still receives critical acclaim. It’s my personal Maiden album and it deserves the zillions of new listens it gets every year. Beast still hits my iPod at least twice a month.
Part II…coming soon!