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Series / Headbanger's Ball

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Headbanger's Ball is a music video show that has aired on the MTV networks in various incarnations since 1985. Originally hosted by a rotating list of musical guests, followed by Adam Curry until the turn of the decade, its most famous incarnation was the Rikki Rachtman era from 1990 to 1995. Airing Saturday nights, it showcased a lot of Heavy Metal acts not seen on regular daytime MTV or mainstream radio, as well as sprinklings of more commercial heavy metal acts and classic metal videos.

The original show was canceled abruptly in 1995, while the European incarnation continued for three more years. The show was revived on MTV2 in 2003 with Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed hosting, and continued in varying forms until 2012 (although it became merely a music block vice a hosted show, and by the end, a web series hosted by Jose Mangin of SiriusXM Radio's Liquid Metal station).

The Rachtman era of the show was a fan-favorite for its loose, fun vibe and interviews and music videos from acts that didn't get a lot of exposure elsewhere. The set was also made by White Zombie frontman Rob Zombie (he can be seen in the background painting in several episodes during its creation). The show made several road trips, like going to Tijuana with Anthrax and a water park with Alice in Chains.

Tropes associated with Headbanger's Ball include:

  • Beach Episode: Famously did an episode at a Seattle water park with Alice in Chains. Considered one of the funnest/funniest ones they ever did, the actual shooting was a nightmare, as frontman Layne Staley was dope sick throughout the shoot.
  • The Corrupter: Metal in general has been given this title, so it's no surprise this show was accused by some to be corrupting the youth of America. Amusingly, Pantera literally did this in one episode, getting two 18-year-old contest winners completely wasted and tattooed in one episode (the underage drinking was only alluded to on-air, tho).
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Provided by Pantera.
  • Important Haircut / Traumatic Haircut: Rikki cutting off his trademark heavy metal long hair in the early 90s was a MAJOR point of contention among fans. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth even taunted him about it in one episode.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: The Pepsi Power Hour and Power 30 served as this for Canadian audiences on MuchMusic from 1986 into the early 1990s. The Jasta/Mangin era series was complimented in Canada by Loud from 1998-2011, which was hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos until 2004, and became the namesake for it's own specialty rock music channel MuchLoud (now Stingray Loud.) Later Canadian equivalents included the metal artist interview series Hard and the half hour metal video block Bangers & Thrash, both airing in the 2010s on Aux (now A.Side TV.), while the video block Metal at Midnight has ran on the renamed Stingray Loud since June 2017.
  • Trash the Set:
    • When getting rid of an older version of the set in 1987, the night's host, New York radio DJ Smash, encouraged then-upcoming band Guns N' Roses to do just this...and they did.
    • GWAR apparently ruined the couch on one set...just by sitting on it.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Was *hated* back in the day by some metalheads for prioritizing Hair and Glam over more extreme forms of metal. The same thing happened with Grunge and Alt-Rock in the '90s and Metalcore in the '00s.
  • Unplugged Version: Although the show is mostly known for its loud, hard-rocking vibe, it's done a few of these. Most famously is Stone Temple Pilots doing an unplugged version of Plush on the show, a version that is still played on the radio to this day.