From Monsters of Rock to Download – MACE looks back at the history of Heavy Metal and its West Midlands routes

Monsters of Rock 1980 to 1996

As MACE hold the ITV Central regional collection from 1956, including over 50,000 filmed news reports covering all of the midlands, it’s inevitable that many significant events have been captured on film for us to unearth from the archive.

With Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Wolverhampton Art Gallery about to open new exhibitions celebrating the Home of Metal and the rock festival, Download about to commence for another year at Donington Park motor racing circuit in Leicestershire, MACE look back at the ITV regional news reports covering the very first rock festival to be held there on 16th August 1980 – Monsters of Rock – and take a journey through the years to the last Monsters of Rock on 17th August 1996.

Monsters of Rock started when promoter Paul Loasby planned a day-long summer festival dedicated specifically to bands from within the heavy rock and metal genre. As he had been promoting the recent Rainbow UK tour, he asked the band to headline.

Paul Loasby, organiser of the first Monsters of Rock Festival talking to Terry Lloyd of ATV Today, 15th August 1980 (c) ITV

The first festival also featured Judas Priest, Scorpions, April Wine, Saxon, Riot and Touch and the following year AC/DC, Whitesnake, Blue Öyster Cult and Slade. Other bands who appeared through Monsters of Rock’s 16 year history were Status Quo, Anvil, Meat Loaf, ZZ Top, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Gary Moore, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Def Leppard (who headline tonight at Download),Iron Maiden, Guns N Roses, Thunder, The Black Crowes.

Graham Bonnet speaking on ATV Today 15 August 1980 about headlining Monsters of Rock (c) ITV

In 1988 tragedy struck when two fans were crushed to death during Guns N’ Roses performance and this led to the festival being cancelled in 1989. The Monsters of Rock Festival had huge success in the 1980s with audiences growing year on year. But in the early 1990s its popularity declined, with major acts unwilling to play the festival and there was no festival in 1993. 1996 saw the last Monsters of Rock at Donington Park. By 2003 however, hard rock was growing again in popularity and Live Nation resurrected the Monsters of Rock of old, under a new name – Download Festival. The festival was a huge success, and since 2005 it was extended to a three day festival, from Friday to Sunday.

Download this year runs from today, Friday 10th June to Sunday 13th June, with sets from Def Leppard, The Darkness, System of a Down, Linkin Park, Alice Cooper and Twisted Sister to name but a few, and people from all over the world will again be descending upon a small village in Leicestershire to enjoy what has again become a huge international, annual event in the music calendar.

The ATV Today and, later, Central News East cameras, attended the Monsters of Rock festival every year and their collection, held at MACE, pieces together a story of preparation and anticipation for this huge East Midlands music event over its 16 year history, including interviews with the founding organiser, Paul Loasby and fans from all over Europe.

MACE has created this 17 minute montage of clips from these news reports from 1980 to 1996 exclusively for our blog, MACELive.

Each of these news reports has an individual catalogue entry on our website and some of these catalogue entries have associated clips to view on the website. Search ‘Festival Donington’ to browse catalogue entries. (Not all the catalogue entries have associated clips to view but we will be uploading these in the future so do keep checking back).

Home of Metal Exhibitions – Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery/Wolverhampton Art Gallery, June to September

MACE are also very pleased to have contributed footage to the Home of Metal, a celebration of the music that was born in the Black Country and Birmingham, created by Birmingham based organisation, Capsule.

In their words:

Home of Metal brings people together to share their passion and explore themes of Heavy Metal through exhibitions, film screenings, live events, a conference and family friendly activities. Four decades since Heavy Metal was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world, Home of Metal honours a truly global musical phenomenon.

The Home of Metal digital archive is an opportunity for fans from all corners of the globe to share their passion for Heavy Metal music and contribute stories and memorabilia by uploading images, sound files and film footage.

Capsule are producing and curating a series of exhibitions under the banner of Home of Metal taking place throughout The Black Country and Birmingham, UK.

These include two exhibitions that will feature footage from the ITV Central regional collection held at MACE:

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
‘Home of Metal’ – 18 June to 25 September 2011
’40 years of Heavy Metal and its unique birthplace’

Photo by Katja Ogrin 'Chris Hopkins'

Home of Metal’s website says:

When four working-class Aston lads known as Black Sabbath unleashed their debut album in 1970, it saw the birth of a new musical form, one unmistakably born in Birmingham and the Black Country. In the proceeding years, a myriad of bands from these locales took the lead from Sabbath and continued to evolve, innovate and break the barriers of this new genre.

The exhibition brings together unseen memorabilia sourced directly from the fans themselves and places it alongside iconic items such as Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules stage cross, Judas Priest costumes and handwritten Napalm Death lyrics. This show will also explore the ingredients that together made Heavy Metal, offering an insight into the region’s industrial history, the early blues-rock sound, the changing music industry, DIY politics as well as Heavy Metal’s global impact.

MACE have supplied 12 titles including ATV Today: 15.08.1980: Pop Festival – Donington racetrack, ATV Today: 16.09.1981: Headbanging and Redevelopment.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery
‘You Should Be Living’ – 18 June to 17 September 2011
‘The Visual Language of Heavy Metal’

Home of Metal’s website says:

While the Home of Metal project explores the relationship between fans and music, this exhibition further investigates this relationship by examining the work of artists inspired by Heavy Metal. Work on display illustrates the visual impact of Heavy Metal, exploring the motifs and myths of the music.

The featured artists, including Matius Faldbakken, Ben Venom, Harminder Judge and Amy Sarkisian, use typography, vintage t-shirts, sculpture and sound to explore the varying aesthetic features of Heavy Metal and its relationship to contemporary art. The artists, both national and international, take inspiration from the genre, whilst exploring notions of fantasy, chaos, performance and musical devotion.

‘You Should Be Living’ references the title track from the debut Napalm Death record ‘Scum’ and, thirty years after the formation of the band, a special collaborative piece has been commissioned for this exhibition. French artist and Grindcore fanatic Damien Deroubaix and Napalm Death founder Nicholas Bullen will present their sculptural construction containing text and abstractions, embedded video monitors, audio cables and microphones, referencing the work of both artists and the ‘Scum’ album.

MACE have supplied one title for this exhibition, ATV Today: 11.07.1977: Bilston Blast Furnace. Click the title to view the clip.

Broadcasters: ATV Today and Central News footage is licenced by ITN Source. Email: or telephone 0207 430 4480 for rate enquiries. MACE additionally charge transfer and access fees. Email for details.

To read more about the Home of Metal project click here.
To read more about the Download Festival click here

NB: The archive footage featured in the attached montage is the copyright of ITV plc and has been used with permission. No unauthorised reproduction permitted. Please contact for licensing queries.


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