Diamond Head (English band)

Diamond Head is an English heavy metal band formed in 1976 in Stourbridge, England. The band was part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement and is acknowledged by thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth as an important early influence.[1]

Diamond Head
Diamond Head performing at Hellfest 2019
Diamond Head performing at Hellfest 2019
Background information
OriginStourbridge, England
GenresHeavy metal
Years active
  • 1976–1985
  • 1991–1994
  • 2000–present
Members
  • Brian Tatler
  • Karl Wilcox
  • Rasmus Bom Andersen
  • Andy Abberley
  • Dean Ashton
Past members

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

Brian Tatler formed the band with Duncan Scott while both still at school in June 1976. They found singer Sean Harris, who was in the same year, and went through three bass players before settling on Collin Kimberley in 1978. The band recorded two self-financed demo tapes in 1979. Recorded within six hours on a four-track, one of which was sent to Geoff Barton at Sounds. The timing was perfect with the emergence of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. In 1979/80 Diamond Head were managed by budding local managers Dave Morris and Ian Frazier. Dave put some money into the band and tried to get the band a record deal, Ian took to driving the band around the UK when on tour. Sean Harris's mother (Linda Harris) persuaded her boss and boyfriend (Reg Fellows) to come and see the band with a view to investing in them. Diamond Head's demos and live reputation gained enough attention for the band get two support dates with AC/DC and one with Iron Maiden at The Lyceum, London. Although several record companies expressed interests in signing the band and Dave and Ian secured a couple of offers, none were deemed worthy by Reg and Linda who were now beginning to advise Sean as he still lived at home with his mother in a house paid for by Reg.

A difference of opinions about how to manage Diamond Head followed, which eventually led to Dave Morris and Ian Frazier quitting their role as management, and the job fell solely to Reg and Linda. Apparently Reg and Linda turned down an offer from Foreigner's manager Bud Prager to manage the band in the US, claiming they didn't need any help over there. Thus while other new wave of British heavy metal bands were signed to major labels and headlining their own tours, Diamond Head remained independent. Guitarist Brian Tatler thinks that Reg and Linda had unrealistic expectations about the kind of record deal the band should sign and when no deal lived up to this, Reg decided that the band should record an album quickly and cheaply at a local 24 track studio where they had recorded their first single "Shoot Out The Lights" (b/w Helpless); no money exchanged hands, and the studio owner Muff Murfin - in return for a weeks studio time - took 50% of the bands publishing for fifteen years. It is believed that tapes were passed onto various labels, but when the debut album entitled "Lightning To The Nations" failed to secure a record deal, the management decided that they would release 1000 copies of the album on an independent label (also owned by Muff Murfin) called 'Happy Face Records'.

The album was packaged in a plain sleeve with no title or track listings, and 250 copies were signed by each band member. The management thought that it should be perceived as a 'demo' album, so no fancy sleeve was required, making it very cheap to produce. The first 1000 copies were pressed and made available at concerts and via mail-order for £3.50. The only mail-order advertisement appeared in Sounds and ran for six weeks. The band's management did not pay for the advertisement and ended up being sued.

The original stereo master tapes were lost after they were sent to the German record company, Woolfe Records, who released a vinyl version of the album with a new sleeve. The tapes were not returned until they were eventually tracked down by Lars Ulrich and Phonogram Germany for inclusion on the 1990 compilation album 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited'.

In 1980, Pete Winkelman from Wolverhampton got involved and tried to sign Diamond Head to his new label Media Records. Pete had been a record plugger and knew a lot about the music business. He advised the band to change management and leave Reg and Linda behind but because of Sean's loyalty to his mother, this advice fell on deaf ears. In the end Diamond Head only agreed to make one single for Pete, a re-recorded version of Sweet & Innocent b/w Streets of Gold, which came out around October 1980.

In January, 1981, Diamond Head successfully opened for April Wine on their UK tour. An ambitious UK tour was planned for the summer by Reg and Linda as a way of being perceived as being more popular than they actually were. An EP called "Diamond Lights" was recorded quickly to help pay towards the expenses. Reg hired a sleeper coach for band and crew, an articulated lorry filled with hired PA and Lights. Reg also hired the Wolverhampton chapter of Hell's Angels to perform security duties on the whole tour. Reg bypassed promoters and booked the venues with a local agent to avoid paying a percentage but with very little promotion for the tour it lost money.

The only A&R man who was determined to sign the band was Charlie Eyre who quit his job at A&M and joined MCA in order to sign Diamond Head and Musical Youth. Discussions went on for around six months until the band finally inked a five album deal on 1st January 1982.

Borrowed TimeEdit

First on the agenda was to record and release the Four Cuts EP, which contained two early era songs Shoot Out The Lights and Dead Reckoning and the band did a whistle stop UK tour of the clubs to promote it. A link up with agent Neil Warnock at The Agency secured Diamond Head a Friday night slot on the Reading festival bill in 1982, albeit as late and unadvertised replacements for Manowar. Their set was recorded by the BBC and later released in 1992 through Raw Fruit Records as the Friday Rock Show Sessions.

Their first MCA album, Borrowed Time, featured a lavish Rodney Matthews-illustrated gatefold sleeve based on the album's Elric theme and was the most expensive sleeve commissioned by MCA at the time. The album was somewhat successful commercially, climbing to No 24 in the UK album charts. The band were able to perform a full scale UK tour at premier venues such as London's Hammersmith Odeon.

To support the album Diamond Head's released their sixth single "In the Heat of the Night", backed with live versions of Play it Loud and Sweet and Innocent recorded at the Zig-Zag club, and an interview with DJ Tommy Vance (although the latter was not available on the 12").

CanterburyEdit

Once the two-week UK tour was over Sean and Brian were told to start writing the next album. The band tried a more experimental sounding follow-up to Borrowed Time, tentatively titled Making Music which was re-named Canterbury in 1983. Its was Diamond Head's "Difficult third album". Using top engineer Mike Shippley at a very expensive London studio called Battery in Wilsden put immense pressure on the band. Duncan struggled to adapt to this new level of scrutiny and was fired after completing just six drum tracks in three weeks. Then once all the bass parts had been recorded to Mike's exacting standards Colin quit Diamond Head. Colin sold all his gear and never played bass again. The album now fell to Sean and Brian to finish causing Sean to almost have a nervous breakdown. initial success of the album was stalled as the first 20,000 copies suffered vinyl pressing problems, causing the LP to jump. It made number 32 in the charts (less than Borrowed Time) and it was noted that the album cost more to make but sold less. Diamond Head were invited to open that years Monsters of Rock festival and for the first time toured Europe as special guests of Black Sabbath. A&R man Charlie Eyre convened a meeting in MCA's boardroom after the tour and said "unless you change your management we will drop you". Sean would not hear of such a thing and so on the 1st January 1984 MCA did not pick up the option for a third album.

1984 to 2000Edit

In Jan/Feb 1984 Diamond Head did an 18 date UK tour which lost money. Brian and Sean continued to write together and in October/November Diamond Head re-convened in a purpose built studio in Lye, West Midlands to record album number 4. The album was never finished and when Reg and Linda failed to secure a new record deal, the band fell apart in early 1985. Brian took over the running of the studio called RPK while Sean signed a solo deal with Pete Wineklman's new label I Major Records. This culminated in Sean and Robin George making a very expensive album together under the name Notorious. In 1990 Pete Winkelman encourage Sean to make another Diamond Head record and so put Sean and Brian back in touch after a long break. The band did two UK tours and eventually Death and Progress was released in June 1993 featuring guest contributions by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Behind the scenes all was not well and the reunion was short lived as they were on the verge of splitting up as soon as the record was released. The last gig Diamond played was at Milton Keynes Bowl opening for Metallica. Towards the end of 1992 Sean grew dissatisfied with the album and Brian and wanted to move on. Pete Winkelman tried to broker a deal with RCA records for 'new' band that would feature Sean, Karl Wilcox, Pete & Danny Vuckovic. They performed one gig in Northampton under the name Magnetic AKA but a deal failed to materialize and it all fell apart.

2000sEdit

In 2000 Sean and Brian re-united to perform some acoustic, un-plugged type gigs in the UK. They reworked the old songs and began recording a 4 track acoustic EP although this ended up taking two years and by the time it came out on the bands own label the acoustic phase was over. Sean and Brian accepted an offer to play the Metal Meltdown festival in New Jersey on April 5th 2002 (Diamond Head's first US show). An electric band was put together and a 14 date UK tour was booked for August 2002. A new Diamond Head album was planned and Mad Hat Studio in Wolverhampton was booked along with producer Andy Scarth. About halfway through the recording Sean announced that he wanted to change the name of the band to 'Host'. This didn't go down well with everyone and when in 2003 Sean failed to get a deal for the album (which had cost around £16,000 of Sean and Brian's money to make) things went quiet. Later that year Diamond Head and Sean Harris finally went their separate ways.

Nick Tart eraEdit

 
Diamond Head performing in Japan, 2008

Nick Tart (from Cannock) was asked to join Diamond Head in 2004. The band's next album, All Will Be Revealed was released in 2005. To promote this album they completed a 22 date European tour with Megadeth. Brian Tatler commented that this was one of the best experiences of his life and regained his enjoyment for playing live with the band again.[2] Diamond Head headlined a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the NWOBHM at the London Astoria, supported by Witchfynde, Bronz, Praying Mantis and Jaguar. This concert was later released as a live CD titled It's Electric and also the band's first DVD, To the Devil His Due, in 2006. The band's rhythm guitarist Adrian Mills left the band and was replaced with Andy 'Abbz' Abberley,[3] previously in Cannock band Chase with drummer Karl Wilcox. In 2007 Diamond Head released What's In your Head? produced by Dave (Shirt) Nichols. In November 2007 Diamond Head were special guests on a 14 date UK tour with Thin Lizzy. in 2008 Nick announced that he and his family were going to emigrate to Brisbane. The band continued to tour but now have the extra expense of flying the singer backwards and forwards from Australia. Diamond Head toured the US (twice) plus Japan and Europe including two dates opening for the Big 4. Nicks last show with Diamond Head was the 4th October 2013.

Rasmus Bom Andersen era (2014–present)Edit

After recruiting new vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen (a Danish born singer living in London) in 2014. Diamond Head toured the UK and began work on their self titled album Diamond Head (Diamond Head album) it was released in 2016 to fantastic critical acclaim. The band took part in the 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise round the Caribbean and toured the US and Europe. Work began on their eighth studio album The Coffin Train in mid 2016 and it was released in May 2019. By this time Diamond Head had signed to Silver Lining Records and are now managed by Siren Management. The album entered the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart at number 5, ten places higher than the band's self-titled album.[4] This album too received excellent reviews and Diamond Head performed at many prestigious Rock and Metal Festivals including Wacken, Hellfest, Bloodstock, Rock Hard, Rocklahoma and Stonedeaf as well as touring with Saxon and Black Star Riders.

InfluencesEdit

Diamond Head have cited their early inspirations as classic 1970s British rock bands such as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, UFO, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Free,[5] Brian Tatler relating that the first albums he bought were Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin II and Deep Purple's Machine Head, and said that although a lot of his guitar work was inspired by Ritchie Blackmore and Michael Schenker it was punk rock that showed him that anyone could form a band. Colin Kimberley commented Diamond Head got their complex sound from listening to bands like Black Sabbath and Rush and realising that a song with a single riff throughout was not interesting enough.[6]

In a recent interview Tatler stated that he now tries not to be influenced by modern bands and keep his sound, although he imagines that "little bits creep into the writing process."[7]

Lack of successEdit

Many reasons have been cited why Diamond Head never achieved significant commercial success,[according to whom?] focused mainly on their change in musical direction with Canterbury and their delay in obtaining a record deal. Once they did sign to a major label, MCA proved to be the wrong label, forcing the band to sound more commercial.[8] Also, while successful bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard were managed by established music management, Diamond Head were managed by Reg Fellows and the lead singer's mother, neither of whom had managed a band before. In addition, though many of their NWOBHM brethren toured the United States in the 1980s, Diamond Head did not set foot on US soil until 2002, performing one show at Metal Meltdown IV, New Jersey.[citation needed]

Influence on MetallicaEdit

American thrash metal band Metallica have often acknowledged Diamond Head as an important early influence, having covered the likes of "Sucking My Love", "Am I Evil?" and "The Prince" during their initial performances. The earliest known recordings of these songs are a rehearsal demo recorded at then-bassist Ron McGovney's house in March 1982. The Metal Up Your Ass live demo, recorded in November of that year, featured a live rendition of "Am I Evil?". "The Prince" was also played, but the tape ran out too soon to catch it. "Sucking My Love" exists on various bootlegs that have been circulating since 1982 along with a recording on the early demo No Life Til Leather.

Metallica's first official studio release of "Am I Evil?" came in 1984 as part of the Creeping Death 12" single paired with another NWOBHM classic "Blitzkrieg", by the band of the same name. The two songs were also included in the first pressing of the Kill 'Em All LP when it was re-released by Elektra Records. A cover of "Helpless" was featured The $5.98 E.P. - Garage Days Re-Revisited in 1987 and "The Prince" was included as a B-side to the "One" single. The official recordings of "Am I Evil?", "Helpless" and "The Prince" would also be featured on Metallica's 2-CD Garage Inc. compilation, a collection of numerous cover songs that the band had played over the years. The first CD in the set was newly recorded covers, one of which was Diamond Head's "It's Electric".

During the Wherever We May Roam Tour Metallica played "Am I Evil?" and "Helpless" with the original Diamond Head members on 5 November 1992 at NEC Arena in Birmingham.[9]

Metallica performed "Am I Evil?" along with the other bands in the Big 4 (Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer) at the 2011 Sonisphere festival, and with Diamond Head themselves at the Sonisphere festival in Knebworth on 8 July 2011. Lars Ulrich said that there was "a pretty good chance that none of us would be here" without Brian Tatler before playing the song. The following day Brian performed "Helpless" with Metallica and Anthrax at the Sonisphere festival in Amnéville, France.[10]

On 5 December 2011 Brian Tatler and Sean Harris joined Metallica onstage at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco to celebrate Metallica's 30th Anniversary. Together they played "The Prince", "It's Electric", "Helpless" and "Am I Evil?". Tatler and Harris also took part in a group encore of "Seek and Destroy". Metallica have performed "Am I Evil?" onstage over 750 times.

June 18, 2019 - Brian Tatler was in the Snakepit at Metallica Worldwired, Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Band membersEdit

Current members
  • Brian Tatler – lead guitar, backing vocals (1976–1985, 1991–1994, 2000–present)
  • Karl Wilcox – drums (1991–1994, 2002–present)
  • Andy "Abbz" Abberley – rhythm guitar (2006–present)
  • Rasmus Bom Andersen – lead vocals (2014–present)
  • Dean Ashton – bass, backing vocals (2016–present)
Former members
  • Sean Harris – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1976–1985, 1990–1994, 2000–2004)
  • Colin Kimberley – bass, backing vocals (1978–1983)
  • Duncan Scott – drums (1976–1983)
  • Robbie France – drums (1983–1985; died 2012)
  • Mervyn Goldsworthy – bass (1983–1984)
  • Josh Phillips – keyboard (1983–1984)
  • Dave Williamson – bass, backing vocals (1984–1985)
  • Eddie Moohan – bass, backing vocals (1991–1992, 2002–2016)
  • Pete Vuckovic – bass, backing vocals (1992–1994)
  • Floyd Brennan – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2000–2002)
  • Adrian Mills – rhythm guitar (2003–2006)
  • Nick Tart – lead vocals (2004–2014)

TimelineEdit

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Live albumsEdit

Singles and EPsEdit

  • Shoot Out the Lights (1979)
  • Sweet and Innocent (1980)
  • Waited Too Long (1981)
  • Diamond Lights EP (1981)
  • Call Me, Four Cuts EP (1982)
  • In the Heat of the Night (1982) – [UK #67]
  • Makin' Music (1983) – [UK #87]
  • Out of Phase (1983) – [UK #80]
  • Wild on the Streets/I Can't Help Myself 12" (1991)
  • Acoustic: First Cuts EP (2002)

CompilationsEdit

DVDsEdit

  • To the Devil His Due (21 November 2006)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Diamond Head Press Pack". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Metal Invader – Diamond Head Interview". Diamond-head.net. 19 October 2005. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Andy Abberley Interview". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. 23 December 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  4. ^ "Weekly Rock Chart Round-Up". SoundMouth.blogspot.com. 6 June 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  5. ^ Tate Bengtson. "Interview". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  6. ^ "News Article". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  7. ^ "getreadytoroll.com". getreadytoroll.com. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  8. ^ Survivors, Classic rock Vol.124, pg57
  9. ^ "Metallica – Am I Evil / Helpless with Diamond Head – Birmingham 1992". YouTube. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Diamond Head Homepage". Diamond-head.net. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Albums Chart Top 40 | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.

External linksEdit