If you grew up during the 1980s, you know that metal was pretty much divided into two camps: the good time, party metal that dominated MTV with bands like Motley Crue, Dokken, Scorpions, and Van Halen, and the no-frills, extreme artists that were pushing the boundaries of what “heavy” meant like Metallica, Slayer, Venom, Sepultura, and Bathory.
While I generally considered myself to be of the latter camp, I also liked girls and girls liked Bon Jovi, who fell squarely in the first camp. And so it was that I found myself at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis on the night of July 19th, 1985. I was just shy of 15 and my girlfriend’s mom drove us the 60 miles from our hometown to see Bon Jovi opening for Ratt. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a pretty big Ratt fan and actively hated Bon Jovi (in part, no doubt, due to the fact that my girlfriend was obsessed with singer Jon Bon Jovi).
Imagine my surprise then when, for the first (but certainly not last) time in my experience, that the opening band wiped the floor with the headliners. That’s right folks, I watched Bon Jovi absolutely play circles around Ratt! They were on fire, having a blast and I must admit JBJ is one hell of a frontman. I’m not sure if Ratt was just having a bad night or what, but I suspect that it was owed in part to the fact that (as we all learned years later) they hated each other and could barely stand to share the same stage.
So, here we are, 30 years later, that girlfriend ended up marrying my childhood best friend and they’ve been together for over 25 years (congrats Billy and Cindy). Bon Jovi is also still going strong, generating the occasional hit, while Ratt have imploded for somewhere around the 37th time. This Massive Metal Monday happens to fall on Jon Bon Jovi’s 53rd birthday, so I have chosen the often-overlooked classic “In and Out of Love” from their second record, 1985’s 7800Â° Fahrenheit. The title of the album reflects the temperature at which rock melts (see what they did there?) and I consider it to be the band’s best offering.
Happy birthday JBJ and thanks for that memorable evening in 1985. You can’t argue with 30 years of staying power!
When I was growing up in rural Indiana in the early ’80s, there was very limited access to heavy music. These were the days before MTV blew up with the whole hair metal, Headbangers Ball phenomenon. But on Sunday nights, there was a two-hour radio show that came from WOXY, just across the state line in Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University of Ohio). It was called Massive Metal for the Masses and I would wait all week for it to air. It was through this show that I was introduced to bands like Venom, Bathory, WASP, Michael Schenker Group, Slayer, and countless others. This Monday weekly column is my tip of the hat to that show. I call it Massive Metal Monday. Every week, I will pay tribute to defining moments by the artists that laid the groundwork for heavy metal to become the worldwide cultural bond for all of us metal heads.