In this blog I have scoured the annals of time to present some fascinating back issues of the music magazines my 80s generation just loved! Some of us had subscriptions to these music magazines, other times, we didn’t and/ or couldn’t afford it. Therefore, we would wait anxiously (in a good way) for the next issue to hit newsstands.
The time is 1989. Twitter doesn’t exist. Cell phones aren’t even discussed as a technological possibility. We have no computer in my household. The internet is non-existent to a large majority of the population. Computers were a rich kid’s plaything and the newest computer is still the Apple II used in a few public schools and not every school had them. Everything is researched in books checked out from the public library and a card catalog system consisted of a span of pull out drawers chalked full of index cards with the author’s name, circulation number, and title. Information is jotted down on pen and paper, or if you were me, then pen and index cards. That’s how I complied information back in these old days.
Music news traveled by word of mouth, in print (in the music magazines), MTV and the radio. Who’s opening up for who again? Was it Guns n’ Roses or some upstart band calling themselves ‘Slaughter’? I just used this as an example even though Slaughter did open for KISS on their HITS tour in 1989.
And Sebastian Bach, lead singer of Skid Row blurted out on the American Music Awards program, “Well… shhh-iver me timbers!” since swearing wasn’t allowed on national television. It made me laugh so hard when he said it after receiving an award because I hung onto every word. Am I fan of Skid Row? Around this time, no. However, my older sister simply adored this new rock band that was quick to grace the covers of all the music magazines: Metal Edge (pictured), RIP, Circus, etc.
I was a Kiss fan at the time, and despite what my parents told me about this particular band and how infamous they were, it made me love them even more. Shock rock at its finest. The only other rock star that achieved such a reputation was Alice Cooper. My mom saw Alice Cooper in concert back in the 1970s, and she took my uncle to his first Kiss concert around the same time, too. They lived it and are original fans from an era not too different from that of my own.
But the sound was magical. There was special meaning to those chart-toppers and power ballads—every new and veteran band had to crank out at least one of those in the late 80s. Kiss had theirs with ‘Forever’. Alice Cooper had his with ‘Poison’. I remember hearing Alice Cooper’s new song on the radio and my mom would crank up the car stereo whenever the song came on the air. And maybe somewhere we related on some level. I realize that a parent isn’t supposed to be their child’s best friend, far from it. And I also realized at the young, impressionable age of Twelve that parents are meant to be respected and feared. I grew up in the era where we respected our elders. We’d have hell to pay if we sassed back to adults and those in authority. Discipline was dished out as a parent saw fit.
I didn’t like Alice Cooper when I was Twelve and really couldn’t wrap my head around his shocking theatrics. The guillotine act was a show stopper.
I kept my nose in those rock magazines constantly. ‘Dear Mama Ford’ (Lita Ford’s mother) had an advice column in Metal Edge. She fielded a lot of problems my teenage generation were experiencing in their lives, no matter how serious or minor. A lot of it went over my head when I was thirteen, but I thought Mama Ford had sound advice and she was a lot like a “Dear Abby” to readers of Metal Edge magazine. At this time Lita Ford was my biggest fashion inspiration. Her two hit songs Kiss Me Deadly and If I Close My Eyes Forever were still popular on the radio even though they were previously released in 1988. (I had to do some quick research on when they were released). My opinion of Axl Rose and how I thought he was so mean to his fans didn’t change. I wouldn’t say I was a fan of Guns n’ Roses simply due to his onstage antics, but in another sense I wasn’t really giving this band a chance. Yes, they had some hit songs I really liked. I remember my older sister and I would make fun of the song, ‘Paradise City’ and sing, “Take me down to Paradise City where the girls are green and the grass is pretty,”
The real lyrics go: “Take me down to Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty,” We needed to do something to alleviate typical teenage boredom we seemed to collectively experience. We just changed the lyrics around for the fun of it.
And those magazines we bought didn’t survive into adulthood. Some pages were removed (by us) because we loved to tack those color band pinups to our walls which our parents hated because they felt it made our bedrooms look tacky. Yet we kept tidy rooms and it didn’t look like a tornado dropped a bunch of dirty clothes, empty dishes and a haphazard array of LP’s and cassette tapes tossed on the floor. And those rock magazines were neatly stacked either on our nightstands or kept on a bookshelf. I had all three copies of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and a mismatched set of Child Craft encyclopedias.
Out of anything that ties in with 1989 that I saved was a book mark that depicted a shark and the words, “I Said Hands off!” I bought that bookmark from a book fair hosted at our local school. I used to hate these book fairs because we had to look through a circular and check mark the books we wanted to buy. Well, I didn’t want to read whatever this Weekly Reader cranked out and I didn’t want to spend my allowance money on them either. I also walked my neighbor’s dog for extra money too. I certainly didn’t want to pester my parents to ‘please give me money for books I’ll never read’. I observed these circulars as being ‘forced’ to read some boring cheesy preteen books that wouldn’t keep me interested in turning the page.
I guess there was a problem with my generation experiencing an increase in the illiteracy rate and there seemed to be this huge emphasis for the book fair to get kids excited about reading, when instead, it did the exact opposite. And we had to promise the promoters of this book fair and the school librarian that we’d read the books we ordered. Well, I skimmed the circular. I can’t find any books on my favorite new rock band Kiss that’s because I missed the boat on scaring up some Schoolastic books that featured Kiss from the seventies. I can’t find any subscriptions for RIP or Metal Edge magazines in this book circular either. This bites!
I wasn’t a fan of Circus magazine, but that was my older sister’s favorite. All I saw were the average Highlight magazines for children (grades K-3rd). I was in the fifth grade and a twelve year old. I considered Highlight children’s magazine to be pre-school reading material. All preschoolers read, right? Maybe I was an exceptionally rare breed when younger. I was onto bigger things and wasn’t a fan of those Babysitter Club books, either. I liked those Choose Your Own Adventure books but this book circular didn’t list any. Hmmm, alrighty then!
I wanted to read about Ace Frehley. He was my favorite guitarist in the entire Kiss lineup. I wanted to read more about Peter Criss who was the original drummer. It was around this same time frame I had a fascination for drummers, in general regardless of their style of music because my dad played drums and was in the drum and bugle corps for his high school. And my mother played in a few bands here and there and there’d always be a drummer. From a very early age I was drawn to drum kits no matter if the drums were a famous brand or a cheap, crappy kind.
I’ll never forget the time I accidentally put my foot through my brother’s snare drum on his three piece drum kit (cymbal, snare and kick drum, if my memory serves me correctly). I was about knee high to a grasshopper when I had done that and my brother was infuriated with me. I never learned to play drums, but naturally seemed to gravitate to percussion and cymbals. And when I was still a little child, I was fascinated by drummers that played in bands. I would go up and bug them during band practice whenever my mom would cart me along because she couldn’t always find a babysitter at the last minute.
I never sat down and asked my dad who his influences were and why he decided to pick up the sticks and learn how to play the drums other than his favorite band was Black Sabbath. I can’t put words in my dad’s mouth and say Bill Ward was his musical influence. I will have to ask him because it garners my curiosity.
I’m sitting at my desk in the fifth grade skimming through the Weekly Reader, page open to a check list of books for the upcoming book fair. It brought back negative memories of when I had to complete those stupid book reports for the Book It! Program during the 80’s. I hated Book It! because I couldn’t read fast enough to finish a certain number of books in a single month, then go into a mind boggling, soap opera strung-out dramatic, slapdash outline of what the book was about and how special the protagonist(s) were to me and what lessons I took away from what I read. I was a very slow reader and one of those kids you didn’t want to call on in class to read a paragraph aloud. I loathed reading unless it was on my terms and given free reign to read what I wanted. I seem to recall the Book It program had very strict criteria what type of books students were allowed to read and it was very boring!
Also, the page count gradually increased with each new book selected. I didn’t like the very narrow reading selection we had to chose from. It didn’t leave any room to broaden my literary horizons at all.
Nope… can’t make me do it! was my new defiant attitude at ten years old. I viewed the Book It! program as this mandatory course that no student could get out of no matter how hard they tried. As a reward Pizza Hut would give a student a free personal pan pizza (very itty bitty pizza) only if they could produce their Book It! button and a free coupon signed by the teacher. I thought this was so wrong because not many students could get a personal pan pizza.
I scored only one personal pan pizza by happenstance because my teacher made a mistake. I had already taken the coupon down and got my free pizza the same evening and naturally couldn’t give it back.
My penchant for those rock magazines was my quiet way of rebelling, I suppose. I’d never come right out and say what was on my mind. I would draw out my frustration and began keeping a diary (still have it to this day) and that was my creative outlet to vent all my emotions, worries, fears, hopes, etc. I took a semi-serious interest in writing and fact-checking at twelve. I wasn’t keen on citing my sources when I first started out and was told that plagiarism is a major no-no when I hit the fifth grade. Plagiarism is also a serious offense that’s not taken lightly, and what plagiarism is is where a person copies a paragraph, article, or a whole book word for word and claim it as their own and don’t (or in some cases) won’t give credit where its due.
I would sit there at my desk, happily jotting down quotes by various musicians and doing my best to cite my sources. I loved writing when I was twelve even though I never had any writing credits to my name yet. I was a nobody and made an easy target to pick on. I probably fell somewhere in-between the geek and nerd category by the time I hit Jr. high.
1990-91: Censorship abound, ‘The Metal Wire’ never comes to fruition.
The concept was great because I thought up the name and had a design in mind. There was something edgy and new when it came to conceiving my first ‘music’ newsletter back in 1989. I loved the idea of being my own executive editor, journalist, layout designer even though I had no access to any kind of design program since computers weren’t available. At twelve could I have sat for long hours trying to make Adobe Photoshop to work? Likely not. I didn’t warm up to technology in the least and wouldn’t for a good decade or so.
I decided to find something else and took up a hobby at twelve. I discovered 8 track tapes and the 8 track machine when I was in the fifth grade like they were these long lost ancient artifacts often overlooked in thrift stores. I would fix the cartridge tapes using whatever I had at my disposal and cleaned the 8 track players with cassette tape cleaning solution. And in a pinch I would use record (LP) cleaner for 33 1/3’s and long q-tips designed for cleaning electronics, and when those became scarce, I would tape a regular q-tip to the tip of a pencil and clean the tape heads and capstan that way. I loved to hang out in my attic bedroom working for hours on a solution how to piece together an 8 track tape that got eaten by my Lloyd’s 8 track player that was discarded in the trash at my grandparents house. I took the little 8 track unit home and cleaned it up, let it air dry for a few days and tested it out with those damaging pillow cushion over-the-head earphones. My mom promptly made me throw those headphones in the trash because she was very worried I’d damage my hearing and they could produce a much louder sound than ear buds do today. The old pillow headphones were heavy I might add and caused me many a headache from long periods of wearing.
I received my first hand-me down Walkman that ran on four AA batteries in 1989. The newest features this used Walkman had were fast forward, rewind, pause and stop. At the very least, the inexpensive less impressive cassette tape Walkmans only had play and stop. Depending how much money a person was willing to spend, the more expensive models had rewind, record, and fast-forward and maybe bass boost and both FM/ AM included.
Growing up me and my siblings had the basic Walkmans that lacked a radio. To conserve battery power I believed that using the fast-forward and rewind buttons would drain the batteries completely and so would turning up the volume. Walkmans were a new novelty to me when I was a kid, but how I love them still to this day and miss being able to hear one. I did find two at my local thrift store recently but didn’t buy them and now I’m kicking myself for not doing it. They were off-brand cassette Walkmans, but still that’s old school technology that’s collectable nowadays.
And the rock magazines filled the gap between catching concerts (if a person was made of money and had the chance to get tickets). Backstage passes I heard cost somewhere in the thousand-dollar range and that was unfathomable to me at twelve years old. I dreamed of attending a rock concert as a kid, but there was some intimidation holding me back. I worried about getting hurt at the concert and this is what turned me off from wanting to go to one. I heard horror stories and didn’t know that a nose bleed section was down front. Stage diving existed, but the barricades looked like the Grand Canyon in the live concert pictures in the magazines. But my height (or lack of it) went against me. Unless I could sit on a person’s shoulders I wouldn’t have been able to see the show.
The concert-going excitement was infectious, no doubt. There’s nothing like it in the world that can compare to it. When I listened to Kiss Alive II on 8 track and played the Alive! LP into the ground pretty much, I could be transported to that specific time. I could close my eyes and imagine being there in person to see the action, hear the amped up drums, screaming loud guitar solos, and vocal harmonies and the ‘sing-along’ audience participation that is typical of any band pretty much. And for that brief moment, I could see myself there among the throng of fans that were a wild emphasis of the 70s.
I returned to my rock magazines and thumbed through the articles. I may not have understood a lot of what I read at twelve since a lot of it went over my head, but I loved to read about the popular songs and bands climbing the charts. Metallica. Uhn, that’s a new band. Actually, they began their career in night clubs and bars. Fans used to call them ‘Alcohol-ica’ because the band members liked to drink. Okay, whatever. I didn’t get what ‘drinking’ was all about at twelve and didn’t care. To each their own, I thought. I had formed a crush on Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica. He had long hair, almost a ‘Lost Boys’ look about him even though he wasn’t a vampire. The Lost Boys had long-haired young male teenage vampires that were typical ‘bad boys’ of the silver screen. At twelve my parents still forbid me to rent that movie. I do remember vividly when it hit theaters in 1987. I wanted so much to go see it and glad I had waited until I was an adult. It wasn’t the R-rating this particular film received. It was due to one particular scene where the vampires attack a group of people partying on the beach that’s gory and very graphic. Now I see why my parents forbid me to see the film. Still, for its time the teenage vampires were handsome and the special effects makeup was impressive. I read on a message board that the film also used some CGI (computer graphic imaging) for some of the scenes and other die-hard Lost Boys fans dispute this and think it was contact lenses, fang caps, and a well-rounded cast of new young actors that really gave this horror movie its shock factor.
Either way The Lost Boys is an excellent 80’s cult horror movie that’s worth owning. I was happy to purchase an original vhs copy of this movie for 10 cents at my local thrift store a month back. I have the dvd to this movie along with the film’s series. Like always though I wanted an original vhs copy too. But yeah, the ‘Lost Boys’ look as I summed it up back in these days, all the rock musicians seemed to have a similar look about them. Long hair, tight jeans, ageless beauty, fame, fortune and so on. Oh, yeah and scores of girls, but that comes with the territory when you’re a rock star.
Had I been the intrepid reporter I strived to be with my newsletter I would have included critiques of albums, chart toppers, pictures, news, more credit where credit’s due, first-hand experiences by those who lived it, especially my [then] P.E. teacher related a story to me at recess one day of his concert-going experience seeing Kiss and that it was, “Loud like crazy.” He took his daughter to one of their shows and that was sometime when the band was already famous, so I guessed it was around 76’-77’ which happened to be the bicentennial year for our country (1776-1976).
I didn’t add that last part to my diary. I just quoted my gym teacher’s concert-going experience. And he added that on the way home from the venue he saw a lot of white-painted faces and he was shaking his head as though he didn’t understand it. That’s where I filled him in that the early generation of Kiss fans always painted their faces up like their favorite member of the band. By the time Kiss was touring in the 80s they had long since removed their signature makeup. He was quite impressed by my knowledge and the conversation ended when I had to return to class. And then another teacher waved me over and told me about the time she and a friend of hers shared an elevator with Kiss and her friend began to hyperventilate. It was only when the band stepped off and the doors closed, her friend said, “That was Kiss!” and that was before the band removed their makeup. I need to interject here that a photo of Kiss without their makeup was leaked in Creem magazine in the 1970s. I know this sounds like general knowledge to most nowadays, but back in 1989 this ‘famous non-makeup picture’ was still floating around as just a rumor. It was oral history like this that I penned in my diary so many years ago and reflect back on it like a kid that I was with insatiable curiosity.
Bulldogs, Not-Man and Doris Lady Justice- Mascots galore!
The bulldog depiction was my grade school’s mascot. In 1989 I received a gym shirt with the school’s name and the depiction of a fierce-looking bulldog. Instead of groaning, “Do I have to wear this?” I thought the t-shirt was so awesome, yet sadly, it never survived. I also had a school folder with the same depiction. The folders were glossy white with the name and bulldog in green outline. When the folder was opened there was a printed ruler and times table along with some typical useless public school highlights that wouldn’t benefit me once I got out into the adult world.
Not Man was Anthrax’s mascot, and I believe one of the members of Anthrax would don a head covering that resembled Not Man and go out in the audience to excite the crowd. Not Man is a cartoon depiction on their albums and t-shirts.
Doris Lady Justice is Metallica’s mascot. In 1991 one of the rock magazines printed a flyer for the band’s Justice For All album and Doris Lady Justice is photo-shopped out with the phrase, “…find out in twenty years.” For long-time Metallica fans out there I will need some clarification if my memory serves me correctly about this. But I remember seeing something to this effect either in RIP or Metal Edge.
And that about does it for this blog post. As always thanks for liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, tweeting, etc. I truly appreciate it. 🙂