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.

Previous articleSun Ra – 20 CD box set/book on route
Next articleWas 1976 the worst year for music? Luke Fear looks back at the ‘ variety club hellhole’ of Top Of The Pops
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. 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.

  2. Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…”

  3. After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

  4. I have not checked in here for a while as I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

  5. fantastic put up, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You should proceed your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

  6. fantastic issues altogether, you simply won a new reader. What might you recommend about your submit that you just made some days in the past? Any sure?

  7. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  8. I have been examinating out some of your stories and i must say pretty good stuff. I will surely bookmark your site.

  9. Definitely, what a fantastic website and informative posts, I definitely will bookmark your blog.All the Best!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here