Things you don’t see any more #1: Headbangers

Motorhead Live at Reds, Edmonton, May, 2005

Kids who liked heavy metal music in the 70s and 80s were known as “Headbangers” and were distinguishable from the rest of society by a uniform of double-denim (flared jeans, denim jacket ) and long hair (Shoulder length, always mousey brown, tangled). Their critics also pointed out they were also distinguishable from the rest of society by their attitude to the use of soap.

The New Wave “Year Zero” revisionists such as the Clash of course had swooped down in ’76 with their saliva, drainpipe trousers and punk to cleanse the world of these denim-clad hippies, and to a large extent they had succeeded. However, there was still a sizeable population who clung to their Status Quo and Hawkwind records, and as a six year old in ’76 the whole thing had passed me by.

I remember first seeing a headbanger in action at a disco whilst on holiday with my parents and my cousins at a holiday park in Devon in 1980.

They apparated like unfashionably dressed Dementors onto the dancefloor, as the DJ dropped the allotted one or two “heavy” songs which all DJs were apparently legally bound to play at organised discos in the ‘80s.

I sat there with my cousin, my parents, my sister and an orange squash as the dance floor cleared in nanoseconds (I think one particularly determined girl tried to continue to dance but quickly gave up) and two long haired Headbangers danced their eponymous dance to a crushingly loud Motorhead track. As Lemmy’s bass faded, the DJ swiftly put on “Dancing Queen”, the headbangers ghosted away and the dance floor filled again with girls and handbags: the evening continued as though nothing had happened.

My parents looked bemused. The H.B.s had surprised everyone with their interpretation of the music, which consisted of vigorous shaking of the head and neck, as though they were trying to violently dislodge something sticky from their hair. A lollipop or something, perhaps.

This had been the first time I had heard Heavy Metal, (what with Motorhead’s Overkill inexplicably failing to find a place in my parents’ records alongside The James Last Orchestra’s Non-Stop Dancing Vol. 3). I’d love to say it was a Damascene conversion from a world of Adam Ant and Shakin’ Stevens. It wasn’t, but I thought it was pretty funny and I seemed to hate it less than my sister, whose face had curled up as though a bad smell had wafted across the room.

A seed had been planted….

Record #2: Motorhead by Motorhead – on Spotify



Categories: Heavy Metal

Tags: , , ,

3 replies

  1. Us Headbangers are fading into the twilight – but we aren’t going away too quietly.

    Metallica “Master of Puppets” launched me full on into a life of headbanging. Crue’s Shout at the Devil as well.

    Like

  2. It’s now 2017 I’m 54 and still wear my leather jacket cut down denim with iron maiden patches on bullet belt cowboy boots etc old rockers never die but I’m one who still shows out

    Liked by 1 person

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