Birmingham celebrates its heavy metal heritage – exhibition

There’s always an eternal stand off on just which is the most influential musical city in the UK.

London or Manchester? Neither!

It has to be Birmingham. 

The city is the birthplace of Heavy Metal, arguably the most popular and key form of music in the world.

To celebrate this, there is now a museum exhibition.
Home of Metal will run from 18 June to 25 September at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
With items from key bands like Led Zep, Napalm Death, Judas Priest and the most influential band of all time, Black Sabbath, the exhibition is a celebration of the form.

The exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery looks absorbing and is a great opportunity to set the high decibel record straight.

KK Downing, guitarist and one of the founding member’s of Judas Priest, said he was “fortunate” to have grown up in West Bromwich in the 1950s and 1960s.

He said: “I’m very fortunate in life to have been born at the right time to witness and play a part in the evolution of music.

We were the kids of blue collar workers.”

“So many songs were remakes of the original blues artists’ classics.”

He said as well as the music he grew up listening to, the Black Country itself also influenced the scene.

“We were the kids of blue collar workers. We didn’t have cars or money so we just walked around from pub to club and on the corner of every street there was a venue with bands playing.”

He said he was pleased to see heavy metal recognised with a museum exhibition.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s a great tribute to all the local lads who did good.”

The exhibition opens with the sounds of the factories which many of the bands grew up in earshot of and which may have given rise to the loud sound of heavy metal.

Visitors walk into a replica 1960s living room to watch an exclusive interview with Ozzy Osbourne about the founding of Black Sabbath in Aston in 1969.

Posters, flyers and photographs from the Birmingham music scene of the 1960s and 70s when bands entertained the city’s youth at legendary clubs like Mothers.

The long-gone venue above a suit hire shop in Erdington High Street was where Pink Floyd recorded some of the live set for the album Ummagumma in 1969.

Other installations celebrate Black Sabbath’s first three albums with music and images from records including Paranoid and Master of Reality.

The exhibition also looks at the fans with collections loaned from music lovers who have built up their own records of music history in the form of tour t-shirts, tickets and posters.

Costumes, stage props and instruments are also displayed with people given the chance to don a wig and rock out on guitar or drums in an interactive section.

There is also an exploration of the political side of the music charting the anti-establishment “DIY” movement of the 1980s which gave rise to bands such as Napalm Death.

And if all that isn’t enough; 1st-4th September 2011 sees the running of the Home of Metal Conference featuring keynote speakers from around the globe.

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11 comments on “Birmingham celebrates its heavy metal heritage – exhibition”

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  1. Mistake in your headline. No apostrophe in its….

  2. Stuart Hatfield

    … and Phil Lynott was born in West Bromwich but you decide if that makes him Irish !

  3. I had an idea for a Heavy metal Museum around Brum.Funny.KK Downing has now left Judas Priest,he’s retired to run his golf club.

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