Back in 1985, I was nineteen and working part time in a grocery store, spending most of my spare change on Heavy Metal albums or cassettes. I was still a teenager trying to find my college and career path back then, making minimum wage really left me with extremely limited funds. Being picky about my purchases in 1985 was out of necessity. To buy a brand new book back then, it had to be good… Heavy Metal good. I would frequent regularly, (most of the time just to browse), a mom & pop bookstore called Bookworks. This store unfortunately no longer exists, thanks to the gigantic, corporate bookstore chains that invaded every corner of the globe. Um, back to the Bookworks store… you see, I happened upon a book that caught my eye instantly sometime back in 1985, the title Heavy Metal Thunder appeared too good to be true. The front cover of the book said it all… sub headings read: The Music, It’s History, It’s Heroes. Plus, a fully adorned Heavy Metal guitarist playing a flying V guitar, on this books front cover, was more than I could possibly resist. I bought Heavy Metal Thunder willingly for $12.95. This was the full cover price back in 1985, quite a bit of cash considering my economic situation back then.
I can remember walking home with this book under my arm, the feeling of striking Heavy Metal gold was resonating through me. Knowing this was a book documenting the history of Heavy Metal up to 1985, enticed me to become the Heavy Metal scholar of my block. I read this book from front to back repeatedly, taking in the facts and timelines of the Heavy Metal history found within it’s pages. As I look back now, this book was as informative as any Heavy Metal book available back in 1985. As I leaf through the pages of Heavy Metal Thunder today, it is obvious this book was written from the perspective of being in the year 1985. Don’t let the year 1985 fool you however, this book is accurate, informative and fact filled with enough Heavy Metal history to still satisfy me in 2009. I wish there was a companion edition of Heavy Metal Thunder that was written, a book that dates from 1985 to the present. The author, Philip Bashe, compiled a timeline of Heavy Metal evolution, in commendable fashion, with this book.
There are 32 full color pages of band and individual musician photos in Heavy Metal Thunder, each photo seems to capture the essence and significance of the Old School Heavy Metal genre. Dozens of black and white photos of Heavy Meal bands and musicians adorn the pages of this great book as well. The featured bands in this book, being depicted in color photos as well, are: Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Rush, AC/DC, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Motley Crue. Arguably, these were the biggest and most commercially embraced Heavy Metal bands back in 1985. KISS, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Mountain, Blue Cheer, Randy Rhoads, Twisted Sister, Lita Ford, Ronnie James Dio and Led Zeppelin do get their justified due in black and white photographs and are recognized for their importance in shaping and creating the Heavy Metal genre as we know it today. Even The Kinks, The Who and Grand Funk Railroad get their significance pointed out.
For it’s time, Philip Bashe does a top tier job at acknowledging a majority of the bands and musicians that were instrumental in the evolution of Heavy Metal, up to 1985, even if it is a short anecdote, quick mention or fact. From Elvis Presley to the The Doors to Fastway, the links and roots of Heavy Metal are touched upon in such an intriguing way by Philip Bashe, that I find Heavy Metal Thunder to still be a valuable read in 2009. The single most incredible aspect of Heavy Metal Thunder, is the Chronology, (timeline and progression of Heavy Metal Music), which is written so very well by Philip Bashe. This chronology begins on April 28, 1958, with guitarist Link Wray and his million selling instrumental single Rumble and ends on December 31, 1984, with the auto accident of Def Leppard’s drummer, Rick Allen. Believe me, the bands and their respective achievements, that are touched upon in between this timeline, is nothing short of a fascinating read.
Heavy Metal Thunder is a soft cover with 214 pages. A large size book, it measures 8.5″ x 11″ and is written with enough factual research that only adds to it’s total historical credibility. Metalheads both young and old, should find this book completely absorbing, with both it’s written and visual content. I have seen Heavy Metal Thunder for sale on Amazon.com, there were several used copies for sale, as recent as today. I saw the used copy price was for far less than the cover price I paid back in 1985. For me, it was money well spent 25 years ago… for I still own Heavy Metal Thunder to this very day.