The Biggest Characters in Heavy Metal
As a musical genre, heavy metal is full of inflated egos, drama queens, outrageous acts and bizarre dress sense. But that’s what keeps it interesting, right? Some of the biggest characters in music have come from the heavy metal scene and made it into being household names, adored and followed by fans from around the world. Unsurprisingly, more often than not these larger than life characters act as the frontmen of their bands, or are solo artists in their own right. Sometimes, there’s just no room left to share the spotlight with such big personalities, which can lead to astronomical fame but also feuds, vendettas and even all out fights between band members and rival artists.
Here we’ll take a look at some of the biggest characters on the heavy metal scene and their most outrageous claims to fame.
Ozzy Osbourne, or the Prince of Darkness as he came to be known, has been on the music scene since the late 1960s, making him one of the original players in heavy metal music. Perhaps most famous for his involvement with Black Sabbath, once the band dissolved he then went on to have a successful solo music career, host a music festival called Ozzfest and become a reality TV personality. For a significant amount of time, he was known for biting the head off a live bat whilst performing on stage which cemented his place as one of the craziest characters ever to exist in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. Nowadays, he enjoys a more sedate pace of life but he’ll always be one of the original heavy metal greats.
Alice Cooper is a born performer and one frontman who certainly doesn’t shy away from the shock factor when entertaining. Although his music has fallen into many different categories over the years, he still has a place in the heavy metal hall of fame due to his on stage shenanigans which incorporate all kinds of props, skits and costume changes to wow the audience. Much like the other names on this list, Cooper has crossed over into mainstream popular culture and even appears as a Simpsons character and in a Marvel comic book. His trademark look has been copied by many over the years but they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… Although he has slowed down somewhat in recent years, Cooper maintains his position as the world’s most “beloved heavy metal entertainer”.
Lemmy was the long-time frontman for heavy metal originals Motorhead and his name became synonymous with the archetypal rock ‘n’ roll hero. Perhaps best known for his band’s high octane ode to card games, ‘Ace of Spades’, Lemmy was also known for living fast and breaking all the rules. Whilst you’re now more likely to hit up the online platform PokerStarsCasino for a game or two, back in the 1970s and 80s brick and mortar casinos were the place to be. They represented fun, entertainment, glamour and a certain rock ’n’ roll attitude perfectly captured in Motorhead’s most successful release. As Lemmy sings, ‘You win some, you lose some, the pleasure is to play’, an attitude reflected not only in his lifestyle but in his performance for legions of hardcore fans around the world.
Maynard James Keenan
Not quite as well known outside of the metal world but a big player nonetheless is Maynard James Keenan. Frontman for bands Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, he manages to straddle a variety of different strands of heavy metal music with his different projects. Known for his erratic on stage antics and outrageous style, he surprises fans just as much with his wine-making abilities and commitment to charitable causes. Despite typically hanging out at the back of the stage during performances, Keenan still manages to draw the eye and transmit a whole load of weird energy to his audience as he injects startling emotion into each song with his honey-toned vocals.
As vocalist and frontman for internationally successful heavy metal act Slipknot, Corey Taylor is a well-known name in the community, even if he doesn’t always show his face…. The band are famous for performing whilst wearing elaborate outfits including masks, most of which look like they came straight off the set of the latest Hollywood horror movie. Whilst the entire band gets involved with delivering the ‘show’ at Slipknot gigs, adding to the wild, uncontrollable energy on stage, Taylor is the conduit for all of that emotion and therefore has one of the strongest connections with the audience. He also still performs with his first band, Stone Sour, but it’s when he’s with Slipknot that he makes the biggest waves. Notable controversies include high stage dives from balconies, band members being set on fire, heavy headbanging and tying audience members up with the microphone cord.