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Heavy Metal Holocaust,

Port Vale Football
Stadium, Stoke on Trent.



Ozzy Osbourne

Mahogany Rush






© Neil Dutton

Well, for me it all started early 1981, I was 16 and still buzzing from my first KISS gig at Bingley Hall the previous September thinking what I can do to top such an experience, when I hear my mate banging on our back door. My mum shouted me and told me to go and find out what he was fussing about. The last thing I expected when I opened the door was to get a copy of “Sounds” thrust into my face and my very excited mate Nig shouting Black Sabbath and Motorhead are playing a gig at Port Vale!

I sat in the back yard for the next hour or so (much to my mum’s annoyance as my tea was on the table) reading the article announcing that Black Sabbath, Motorhead and a couple of other bands I’d not really heard of at the time were coming to MY home town… was an unbelievable dream come true.

I spend the next couple of weeks counting the days down until we could make the pilgrimage to Mike Lloyd music in Hanley to buy our much awaited tickets. After pushing our way through to the ticket window, we were “politely” told to get to the back of the queue, however the hour or so waiting to get to the front when I eagerly handed over my hard earned £7.50 and received my ticket, was well worth it. The next months seemed to take forever, until I was eventually counting down the days. We went across the Vale every day from the week before and watched the Road Crews slowly erecting the famous blue bubble stage and huge speaker stacks. I can remember watching the speakers going up and thinking if they put many more up…they’ll be able to hear this in Dublin!

It was then Friday, the night before and we once again walked the couple of hundred yards from home to sit behind Port Vale (on the big wall) overlooking the corner where the stage was. This night though, I must have sensed something special was to happen as I had my compact 110 camera in my denim jacket, and a Motorhead programme I purchased 2 years earlier when they played the Victoria Hall in Hanley. As usual, we sat there along with a few other locals watching the comings and goings, hoping to see someone we recognised.

We didn’t have to wait too long, when the door to the players entrance opened and the man himself, Lemmy stepped through it, and started walking towards Hamil Road. It took me about 3 seconds to get off the wall and up beside Lemmy along with another half dozen or so fans. I eagerly pulled the programme from my pocket, pushed it under Lemmy’s nose and he signed it for me.

I then remembered my camera and started to take the photos shown, I was curious though as to where Lemmy was actually going…so I asked him…..he replied…”off down town (Burslem) for a few beers, ya coming with me? If you are though make sure you have plenty of cash on you”. Only 2 things stopped me from following him, I was only 16 and knew I would’nt get served….and I only had 3 quid in my pocket, otherwise I’m sure this recital would be pages longer! I went home that night buzzing and hardly slept.

Young Lemmy , zit and all. As on this occasion was he usually really friendly towards his fans. © Neil Dutton

It was finally here…. Saturday 1st August 1981….Heavy Metal Holocaust, Port Vale Football Club, Burslem, Stoke on Trent and on that particular day…..the centre of the universe. We went across to the ground early to soak up the atmosphere and have a look around,

I recall being slightly nervous as I had decided after meeting Lemmy the night before, that I’d take my camera in with me. Cameras and recording equipment weren’t allowed so I had pushed it down the front of my jeans, which believe me wasn’t as easy as I thought. We queued at the turnstiles, I handed over my ticket, heard the turnstile click and I pushed through it. We were inside and I got to see the stage and speaker stacks that I’d watched slowly being assembled the weeks before……I was in awe.

We went straight down to the front and stood eagerly awaiting the first band, Vardis, closely followed by Riot and Triumph. Then Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush took to the stage and it was as though someone had just realised the gig needed an injection of music….and Frank was what it needed.

We were then standing waiting for the great man himself, Mr Ozzy Osbourne. He took to the stage and sung his heart out, a master of audience captivation and pure genius accompanied by the legendary Randy Rhodes who was tragically killed seven months later. The sunny day slowly turned black and then….. It was then Motorhead’s turn….my ears are still ringing today over 34 years later!! It was awesome and made it even more special knowing the guy up there on stage performing to all these people was born in Burslem.

I’ve often talked about and recalled my meeting with Lemmy to many people and was shocked to hear of his recent death to cancer. He was a great man, one of the leaders of British Heavy Metal and will be sadly missed by all his fans. RIP Lemmy, it was great to meet you!

© Neil Dutton

Lemmy with my mates, Nig and Phil ©Neil Dutton

I went to the Heavy Metal Holocaust Aug 1 1981 with my mate Tony. We set off Friday night at 8.00pm and arrived at Stoke at I don't know what time. About 50 of us were greeted by an officer of the local constabulary who told us which way to go and warned us that skinheads had been reported to be looking for rockers and to stick together for our mutual protection. Nice welcome!

The journey to the ground was uneventful and when we got there we found a large group of rockers and Hells Angels on the field at the back of the stadium. Everything was really good natured with cops sat on choppers and angels playing with police cars' lights and a few camp fires lit fuelled by some poor locals garden fences.I recall one angel walked past our fire with a bobby's helmet on shouting " look at me I'm a copper!"

Vardis © Jules MC

Riot again.... © Jules MC

They eventually let us in the stadium at about 11.00 am and that's when we found it was a dry gig!! This on one of the hottest days of the year! When Vardis came on people were well mellowed out. They did a spirited set but by the time Riot came on they'd have been better off putting Crosby, Stills and Nash on instead. Frank Marino woke everybody up with a brilliant set which for some reason was panned by Sounds music mag!

Triumph then put everyone back to sleep again. At one point Lemmy had to come to stop people throwing plastic bottles at the band.
Ozzy was the last minute replacement for Black Sabbath. So short notice was Sabbath's pullout that the tickets had them as headliners. He did a great set including stuff from his first solo album and also "My bit of Black Sabbath" which went down a storm.

Enter Motorhead. At their prime just after No Sleep 'till Hammersmith had been recorded they were fantastic despite Lemmy losing the heel off his boot and some parachutists who didn't appear until the song after they should.

Through the afternoon there were problems with the PA. because as Lemmy put it "It's so big they keep melting the cables" I don't know about that but it was awe inspiring and I've never seen anything like it.

After the gig we slept in the station waiting room and arrived home at about 1100am Sunday morning.
Just as an aside. Over the years I've gone to gigs and met young guys who are awestruck that they met someone who went to the Heavy Metal Holocaust. It really has attained a semi-mythical status today. I just wish I'd taken a camera with me!!!!!!!!!
Dave Butler.

More Mahogany Rush at Port Vale © Jules MC

This takes me back a bit.It was one of the most exciting times in music for me with the NWOBHM being in full swing.
I went to this festival with my mate Martin on the back of his clapped out motorbike after my car had broken down in Crewe. I thought I was the dogs bollocks wandering around with my leather jacket with Angel Witch and a picture of the Baphomet painted on the back. Met up with some regulars from the Warrington Red Lion(Diamond Head, Iron Maiden played there).
The main thing I remembered was Frank Marino stealing the show. I'd purchased his live album a while before, and his set list matched the album exactly.
I was also convinced Girlschool played, but maybe I'm wrong.


Steve Woodier

courtesy Dave Jackson

I bought my ticket via a local record store in Doncaster (Angie’s Records, unfortunately now long gone) because I was a huge Black Sabbath fan at the time. When I heard of Sabbaths withdrawal from the event I was gutted. I shouldn’t have been because the Ozzy set was something that still sticks in my memory many years later. I was a fledgling guitar player at the time and remember being amazed at how a guitarist could play so well while his ‘mate’ the lead singer was yanking his hair down almost to the floor and dragging him around. Ozzy and Randy Rhoads certainly made an impression upon a 16 year old and in hindsight my love of Sabbath ended with the 70’s and the Ozzy era’.

Another endearing memory was of Frank Marino, what a set that was. I’d never heard of the guy (other than one track on a compilation album I had) and wasn’t prepared for such a blistering show. It was fantastic and sort of put me off my guitar for a short while as I thought I’d never be as good as that. I bought a number of his albums though and wasn’t disappointed.

I recall the Vardis set (they were from just down the road in Wakefield) and thought they were good, especially opening the show in broad daylight with little atmosphere. However, Triumph and Riot were appalling and best left forgotten.

And then there was Motorhead. Well they were LOUD! I remember stood watching them and the music being so loud my denim jeans were just shaking (probably accounts for some of my deafness now). I’ve seen many concerts in my life but nothing quite like that. I was lip reading for days afterwards. Good entertaining set though.

Other memories are a little vague. The plastic bottle barrages as I dived under the corners of the covers on the pitch trying to get some shelter, was great fun. One hells Angel in his motorcycle helmet standing proud (and quickly alone), inviting ‘it on’ with his hands and getting absolutely pelted by bottles. It was a great day and holds some fond memories. It was the only chance I got to see Randy Rhoads as the Ozzy concert in Leeds in December 1981 was cancelled and then he was gone.

Dave Jackson

Biggest shock at seeing this one was the name. I had completely forgotten. Even for someone who has enjoyed holidays in Iran, Yemen and Syria I hang my head in shame at attending something with this title, and yet as a 19 year old it didn’t merit a bat of one lash let alone a full eyelid. Is it this an illustration of how much of a bonehead you are in youth or just a sign of the times? Also a shock to realise it was dry – I’m sure we managed to smuggle something in.

We arrived as Vardis were finishing but in time to do the obligatory is he wearing shoes check on Steve Zodiac (he wasn’t). Riot we’re much as expected – virtually same as Donnington the year before. As many of your recollectors have suggested things started to go pear-shaped with the singularly un-triumphal performance of Triumph, which was a shame as this was the main reason our chauffeur for the day had dragged his Hillman imp all the way from Batley. Having a singer buried behind a huge drum kit didn’t help, but the middle of the afternoon was not the time for a band who relied so heavily on their ‘blinding light show’. Yelling “we’ve flown all the way from Canada just for one show” isn’t a guaranteed crowd-pleaser either.

Being a fan of the jazzy solos of Frank Marino (eg California Jam 2) was a bit disappointed with the full-on metal approach but not enough not to buy the album afterwards. Interested in the set list of the bootleg – thought he’d also included his new album closing “We aint dead yet” which seemed to basically comprise the words ‘they say that rock and roll is dead but we ain’t dead yet’ and an endless guitar solo ie ideal for live performance.
I too was gutted that Sabbath didn’t turn up, being unable to distinguish the voice of Mr Osborne from the sound of a liquidiser on full. Seemed to remember he was trying a new band out with first UK appearance of Rudy Sarzo on Bass and Tommy Aldrige on drums. Motorhead seemed to as usual do just what they promised and that was about that. A pleasant enough day but nothing really special unless you count driving through Stoke in a traffic jam.

David Dean

Ozzie having fun at the HMH show © Rick Saunders

Hi there.

Yes we were there and remember the day well. Probably due to the fact that we had to drive there and the alcohol ban in the ground. Without boring everyone with a complete review of the day we went to see Motorhead, who did the business as usual. Ok Black Sabbath did not perform but how many Heavy Rock Fans can say they saw Randy Rhodes play guitar live on stage.

I was recently talking to a young guitarist who is in a rock band about the bands we have had seen live and I happened to mention that I had seen Randy Rhodes perform with Ozzy. The guy almost fell to his knees doing the we are not worthy salute. Randy is one of his guitar Gods, and he will never see him perform.

So all you people out there who were at this festival and were disappointed at not seeing Black Sabbath, I bet there are a lot more people even more disappointed at never having the chance to Randy Rhodes perform live the way we all enjoyed that day.

God Bless.

Rob Saripo

Recollections of the heavy metal Holocaust 1981

yes went to this as a last minute trip with 2 coaches of Isle of white Bikers,, i lived in porchester but had friends on the island. was not into Moterhead before going but they were pure energy .
Main Reason for Going was to see Ozzy's new band, Randy Rhoads was inspiring, Frank Marino Mahoganey Rush pure awsome and the final feedback leaving the guitar on the stage resonating..

Always remember awaiting outside during the morning Drum soundcheck's in the Queue that was slowly moving into stadium and the snare drum sound pumping into your stomach as the Air pushed the sound out, massive P.A.

The soft drinks being handed out free by the bikers it was hot day and they were trying to charge a fortune.

AN EVENT TO BEHOLD RIP Randy forever missed only able to shine for a short spell i was a lucky one.

yes ears ringing all the way back to portsmouth ferry terminal
a one off

Paul Redman

It was a very warm day I remember and being quite young, I sat in the stands at stage right. I had no clue as to who Vardis and Riot were, was vaguely interested in Frank Marino and even less with Triumph.

Ozzy was blinding, watching a sea of hands waving his "V" signs was incredible. Randy Rhodes of course on guitar. He played a great set!

Motorhead were loud and we didn´t see much of them as the roadcrew were pumping dry ice out like there was no tomorrow. Loud and heavy they were and that was what counted!

Miles, Mallorca

My name is Steve and i was at that show,this was a fantastic era for rock music ,every weekend there was always rock music playing either at shows or in pubs. Me and my mate Woody left Matlock Derbyshire in my Vauxhall viva (his pink plastic pig wasn’t reliable enough)it was about 1 1⁄2 hours drive from Derbyshire,we drank Newcastle brown ale all the way (sorry) we found a place to park and went straight into the football ground , no more beer we were gutted. Looking back im glad we sobered up it was an awesome day, i remember Motorhead coming out onto the stage left terrace dressed in black leather for a photo shoot dressed similar to the Ace of Spades front cover.

Frank Marino was the show stealer for me i can still remember the look of disbelief on a lot of peoples faces at his playing but the overwhelming memory is the amount of amps and speakers on stage- the volume was unbelievable. This was a memorable day along with seeing Magnum in my local club along with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Blitzkrieg,Race Against Time all these bands in front of an audience of around 100.

The Port Vale Show was just one of the fantastic venues and shows in that area Black Sabbath at Victoria Hall Hanley with Van Halen as support in their very first UK show-Thin Lizzy at Trentham Gardens-Rush-ACDC-Blue Oyster Cult all at Bingley Hall, all this in one area these were fantastic times, now living in OZ went to see ACDC in Brisbane earlier this year brought back a lot of emotion and memories for anyone who loves rock music take it from me these were definitely the days. KEEP ON ROCKING

Steve Bennett

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