Legendary NWOBHM disc-jockey Neal Kay, who was an important factor in the rise of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM), along with Tommy Vance, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, joins us on The Loaded Radio Podcast
Between 1975 and 1980, Neal managed the rock club known as “The Bandwagon Heavy Metal Soundhouse“, which catered to the burgeoning genre that we know today as heavy metal. With help from the music papers of the day, “Sounds” and “Melody Maker“, Neal established the venue as the location for new upcoming bands and like minded fans of the heavy metal genre.
Band demo tapes started to arrive in droves after a two-page article in “Sounds“, penned by journalist Geoff Barton. Kay had one of the biggest club sound systems ever seen at the time, being an 8000 watt PA, comprising mainly JBL/Martin speakers and coach built JPS associates amps. The PA was so loud that the mixing desk was “flown” on chains, suspended from the roof to help avoid feedback from the record decks.
Kay would often be found at massive heavy metal gigs at venues like the Rainbow Theatre and Hammersmith Odeon, and would eventually hit the road with such iconic acts as BLACK SABBATH, RUSH, AC/DC, JUDAS PRIEST and countless others.
Neal was he first high level touring rock DJ of his time.
Kay would also assist in arranging and producing demos of new heavy metal bands, recorded at Spaceward Studios in Cambridge. Amongst these acts were SAXON, PRAYING MANTIS and IRON MAIDEN. He championed these and other acts, and went on to tour with those bands on full UK treks. The resulting popularity of IRON MAIDEN‘s recording led to a record contract for them with EMI. Several other NWOBHM bands also got contracts due to their Soundhouse demos. Kay worked with EMI Records compiling many of these demos onto an album called “Metal for Muthas“, of which several volumes were released.
In 1980, he was the MC for the very first Monsters of Rock Festival, at Castle Donnington, headlined by RAINBOW, SCORPIONS and JUDAS PRIEST. Kay was also a band manager in the 1980s and early 1990s. During that same period, Neal also managed a large studio complex in South London called Samurai Studios, where he also learned the art of live sound engineering.
Neal, who is retired now, talks with us about the beginnings of heavy metal, his absolute dislike of punk, his relationship with the bands of the era and much more in part 1 of our talk with him on this week’s edition of THE LOADED RADIO PODCAST.
You can also pick up Neal’s newly published biography, “Neal Kay: Recollections Of A Rock DJ“, featuring a forward by IRON MAIDEN‘s Steve Harris, at this location.
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