Sunday, November 15, 2009


The photo above is of the audience at a concert by The Rods back in 1982. I think it captures being a Metal fan at that time perfectly. Everything is in attendance: the Wrangler (never Levi as I recall) denim jackets (sleeves optional), the dank brown hair a bit longer than the fashion at the time but not too long to get into trouble at school/work, the biker jacket and the wispy moustaches. It's a more innocent time, a time when Then Rods could leave people open-mouthed (or at least slack-jawed). And, naturally, there's the patches.

If I had an ounce of creativity or entrepreneurship, I would call up on of those Art Book publishers like Taschen with a proposal for a coffee table book called The Art of the Heavy Metal Back Patch. All of the classics of the genre would be there of course: the Judas Priest Razor Blade, the Motorhead Snaggletooth (or whatever it's called), the AC/DC cannon, the Number of the Beast album cover (surely an album cover that was designed to look good on a Backpatch on a denim jacket). I'm sure the book would sell more than you might think.

The one limitation about the different patches was that your selection was relatively limited, and you needed to rely on what was popular and being produced at the time. If you wanted to express your loyalty to someone who was a bit more obscure you needed to resort to your own art skills. Which is why my follow-up book would be Heavy Metal Art on School Jotters 1979 - 1985. I'm sure the lofts of Britain contain some excellent examples of school jotters containing fascinating interpretations of the Kiss Destroyer album cover done with felt pens or the words Black and Sabbath arranged in an upside-down cross that made the English teacher go ballistic. Apart from anything else, the actual act of trying to cover your school books with art gave you an idea on the exact level of your artistic abilities; I'm sure quite a few people realised that a career in illustration would be beyond them as they struggled with the horse while trying to do the Stormbringer cover.


  1. Wunderbar!
    This would make for a thoroughly metaltastic coffee table book of extraordinary magnitude.

    Ah to think the wrangler cut-offs over the biker jacket was my smelly altar to Metal's finest. A big Sabbath Bloody Sabbath patch and mini-Angel Witch decor, the jacket was finished off with - I kid you not - thirteen gold-coloured stitched inverted crosses (I did this myself - honest) runnning down the front, a perverted nod to Iommi's SG fretboard.

    The jotter art too was more interesting than schoolwork ever could be.

  2. THIRTEEN gold-coloured inverted crosses!! Good God, Jimmy, were you at school at this point? I bet even Cronos didn't have that on his denim jacket when he was at Byker High, or wherever he went. I'd love to have seen the R.E. Teacher's face.

  3. Alas Thumper my needlework skills came in the idle months after I had left school. Nevertheless you might imagine how my parents reacted when their long haired lout of a son asked for any embroidery thread!?

  4. So what jotter cover art did you have?

    Any notable favourites?

    I remember attempting Molly Hatchet's Flirtin' with Disaster logo on one book. Others featured Saxon, Motorhead and that naked bloke from RUSH 2112 - seemed innocent enough

  5. The jotter cover art I remember most was a maths book which I had decorated with a picture of some demon pointing at something that I had copied from some article in Kerrang. Immediately after doing it I thought "Uh-oh, this looks just a bit too satanic, why didn't I just do a Led Zeppelin logo?" Luckily, none of the teachers saw it so I didn't get into trouble (Unlike when my religious Engish teacher saw that I had a book on Tarot Cards).

  6. I remember that the Led Zeppelin logo 'ZOSO' was a popular jotter decoration.
    Heheh, so what did the teacher say about those heretic playing cards then!?

  7. I still can't bear to throw my patches out. They last made an appearance about 5 years back, when I went to a fancy dress party dressed as me in 1983. Now they sit, faintly whiffy, awaiting their next resurrection.