In 1980, heavy metal hopefuls Venom sent their demo for consideration to EMI Records, the giant UK record label with signed acts like Queen, Pink Floyd, and a little band called The Beatles. EMI’s response to the unknown British band’s demo was a flat-out rejection, which in and of itself is not so surprising — lots of artists get this kind of response their first time around (I recall John Cougar Mellencamp saying he wallpapered his room with all the rejection letters he got when he was starting out in music).
But, instead of sending a polite “thanks, but no thanks” form letter to Venom, EMI sent a two-word note that made it perfectly clear just how much the label did not want to sign the metal band. It’s quite brutal and over-the-top, although hilarious when you look back on it now.
Check out the letter in full here below, which was posted online by producer/journalist Bart Gabriel. Seriously, it is worth taking a look at.
Venom’s Rejection Letter From EMI (1980)
Do you think EMI got their message across? At least it was “with compliments” (NOT!). I’d love to know who the person was who not only came up with the idea to send such a brutal response, but to type it up (and those were the typewriter days, people) with each letter using that letter repeatedly. And where are they now? Did they go on to greatness?
EMI was famously immortalized in the derogatory song “EMI” by The Sex Pistols, who were unceremoniously dropped from the label in 1977 mere months after being signed (matter of fact, EMI dumped them 36 years ago this month, on January 6th). Venom, who were part of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) who influenced groups like Metallica, Slayer, and more, went on to be signed by Neat Records, who released the band’s 1981 debut album Welcome To Hell, as well as three subsequent albums, including their now-classic sophomore effort, 1982’s Black Metal. Since then, the band has been through numerous line-up changes, but have been putting out albums all these years, with their latest being 2011’s Fallen Angels with original member Cronos back fronting them. Several former members of Venom came together to form the band M:pire Of Evil.
Here below you can listen to Venom’s 3-song 1980 demo, titled Demon, that sparked such a harsh response from EMI. Do you think it was warranted? (I certainly do not.)