Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Headbangers Ball

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Genre  Music (heavy metal)
Original language(s)  English
Editor(s)  Danny Hinnenkamp
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes  410
Presented by  Kevin Seal (1987-1988)Adam Curry (1988-1990)Riki Rachtman (1990-1995)Vanessa Warwick (1990-1997 in Europe only)Jamey Jasta (2003-2007)Jose Mangin (2011-present website only)
Similar  MTV Unplugged, Metal Evolution, Yo! MTV Raps

Headbangers Ball was a music television program consisting of heavy metal music videos airing on MTV, MTV2 (its sister channel), MTV Australia, MTV Rocks (formerly known as MTV2 Europe), MTV Adria (the MTV subsidiary covering the former Yugoslavia), MTV Brand New, MTV Portugal, MTV Finland, MTV Arabia, MTV Norway, MTV Sweden, MTV Denmark, MTV Greece, MTV Türkiye, MTV Hungary and MTV Japan. The show began on MTV on Saturday, April 18, 1987, playing heavy metal and hard rock music videos late at night, from both well-known and more obscure artists. The show offered (and became famous because of) a stark contrast to Top 40 music videos shown during the day.


However, with the mainstream rise of alternative rock, grunge and rap music in the 1990s, the relevance of Headbangers Ball came into question, and the show was ultimately canceled in 1995. Over eight years later, as new genres of heavy metal were gaining a commercial foothold and fan interest became unavoidable, the program was reintroduced on MTV2. It has remained in varying degrees on the network's website, but is no longer shown on television.

Many of the videos that aired on the first incarnation of the series would find a home on the similarly themed Metal Mayhem on sister channel MTV Classic.


"The Ball," as it is commonly called, replaced Heavy Metal Mania (which began airing monthly in June 1985), helmed by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame. In doing so, MTV expanded the format and added more live interviews with bands. At its premiere it was hosted briefly by Kevin Seal, then by VJ Adam Curry, before ultimately settling on Riki Rachtman, who to many viewers became the most identifiable host of the show.

Popularity and influence

The name "Headbangers Ball" was originally invented and used by DJ John Brent of Bury, Lancashire and was used on his rock and metal roadshows from 1980 onwards and toured throughout the UK with great success. John's Headbangers Ball Rock charts were also regularly featured in the pages of Rock publications Kerrang! and Sounds along with many features on the show in local periodicals.

Headbangers Ball was one of the most popular music shows ever to air on MTV, on the air for nearly 8 years, and for a time, it was one of the network's flagship shows. For some time in 1988 and '89, the show was increased to 3 hours. One hour added, plus Hard 60, a daily version of the ball that aired for an hour every weekday afternoon.

Its influence was made widespread with the rise of heavy metal in the 1980s and early 1990s. While the program primarily showed videos from the mainstream friendly "hair metal" during the 1980s, it gave an equal amount of time to the often more aggressive-sounding heavy metal music scene active in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When "hair metal" faded from the limelight, the show expanded to include coverage of hard rock bands such as Alice in Chains and Soundgarden while continuing to focus on less mainstream forms of heavy metal.

Other notable TV programs have emulated Headbangers Ball, such as Fuse TV's Uranium and VH1's Rock Show. Indeed, the popularity and effectiveness of Uranium in the early 2000s (decade) may be cited as a strong influence to the revival of The Ball in 2003.

Road trips

Bands would visit the set for interviews, and in some instances, the show would follow bands on trips to assorted locations across the world. Memorable road trip episodes include Alice in Chains' trip to Action Water Park, skydiving with Megadeth, Oktoberfest in Munich with Danzig, and Van Halen's adventure at Cabo Wabo.

Road trips were also the focus of John Brent's Headbangers Ball radio program. There is a planned rebirth of the original Headbangers Ball roadshow possibly next year on 106.1 Rock Radio with John Brent on the production staff rather than as host.

Death of The Ball

The show remained on the air until January 1995, when MTV abruptly canceled the show without any prior warning to viewers, host Riki Rachtman, or the production staff. The European version, hosted by Vanessa Warwick, was on the air until 1997, but limited to an hour and a half (as opposed to the three hours given in past years).

Rachtman was informed of the cancellation days afterward when, after filming what would end up being the final episode, he was simply informed via phone call that he would not have to show up to work the following week. No official reason was given for the show's cancellation, but it is suspected to be due to the fact that MTV was then playing grunge and alternative more often during its main programming, although they did not play a lot of metal or interview the bands.

Many MTV fans were outraged at the show's abrupt cancellation, as well as denying Rachtman and the production staff the chance to inform viewers that the show was going off the air, or to allow them to put together a "farewell show" for the loyal viewers of Headbangers Ball. Some regular-citizen critics of MTV even cite the cancellation of Headbangers Ball as one of the key decisions which caused the network to "jump the shark". The demise of The Ball also came in at #4 on VH1's 40 Least Metal Moments in 2005.

Over the years, MTV Europe attempted to fill the void left by the cancellation of Headbangers Ball with other rock-themed block programs such as the Julia Valet hosted Superock, but all have failed for various reasons – including MTV Europe's addition of pop, dance and alternative videos to some of the shows which made them not much different from the rest of the day.


After nearly a decade of the show being off the air, MTV2 started up the series again on Saturday, May 10, 2003 at 11 p.m. The revived Headbangers Ball initially had the same type of playlist as its latter "sister shows" in MTV Europe, as well as interviews with metal artists (current and classic). The debut episode was hosted by Metallica, a trend which continued with various artists (including non-metal rock artists such as Staind). Later on, Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta became a permanent host. However, the show still continued to have guest host artists at times. The show eventually returned to its roots (in types of music) of showing underground music, as well as metalcore, death metal and thrash, and mostly stopped showing famous or mainstream bands even if they are metal bands. However, the guest hosts are still famous.

During VH1's 40 Least Metal Moments countdown, musicians criticized the 2003 incarnation of Headbangers Ball in comparison with the original, citing its "scripted" studio feel and lack of excitement. The new version mostly shows only music videos and in-studio interviews, which was not true of the original show.

Removal of the show from Headbangers Ball

Since the January 13, 2007 episode, Headbangers Ball simply became the title for a block of metal videos, rather than an actual show. However, the June 23, 2007 episode went behind the scenes of the induction of Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, including segments covering the event in between music videos. Also, brief interview segments still frequently air before and after commercial breaks, typically re-airing on several consecutive episodes for a long period.

Since April 14, 2007, MTV2 has aired the show from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. and put Saturday Rock the Deuce, a hard rock–alternative show, at 10. The week's episode is also re-aired on Tuesday mornings from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m.

Since 2008, Headbangers Ball has been aired erratically, sometimes airing several hours later than its normal airtime or not being aired at all. Its last on-air time slot was Tuesdays 3AM-4AM.

As of July 21, 2011, Jose Mangin took over as host of Headbangers Ball; which is now a web only show.


Headbangers Ball-labeled products, including a guitar tabs book and three CD sets including artists such as Hatebreed, Opeth, DevilDriver, God Forbid, Chimaira, Dirge Within, Sevendust, Lacuna Coil, Atreyu, Mushroomhead, Shadows Fall, Children of Bodom, Lamb of God, A Life Once Lost, Cradle of Filth, Deftones, and Godsmack have also been sold.

Each album has at least one live song. The first Headbangers Ball compilation featured "Raining Blood" by Slayer as its live track, the second compilation used an in-studio performance of "My Tortured Soul" by Probot, and the latest compilation had two live tracks: "A Bid Farewell" by Killswitch Engage and "Now You've Got Something To Die For" by Lamb of God. The earliest-released CD has famous bands, and the second has obscure ones. Songs featuring Slipknot band members Corey Taylor and Joey Jordison are appeared on all three CDs through their other bands. Other bands that have appeared on all three compilations include Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, and In Flames.

  • MTV2 Headbangers Ball (2003)
  • MTV2 Headbangers Ball Volume 2 (2004)
  • MTV2 Headbangers Ball: The Revenge (2006)
  • References

    Headbangers Ball Wikipedia