How Quiet Riot’s ‘Metal Health’ Brought Metal to the Mainstream
Quiet Riot took metal to the mainstream with the release of Metal Health on March 11, 1983.
The record became the first heavy metal disc to capture the top spot on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart, selling over six million copies and rocketing the group to the top of the metal heap. But Quiet Riot's fall from grace would prove just as sudden; fueled by alcohol, drugs, ego and money, they crashed and burn in one of the most spectacular downward spirals in rock music history.
Though most fans hadn't heard of them prior to Metal Health, Quiet Riot were, in fact, veterans of the rock scene, having released two albums in Japan that featured a young guitarist named Randy Rhoads. After losing Rhoads to Ozzy Osbourne and rock immortality, lead singer Kevin DuBrow struggled through a series of unsuccessful tries at other projects before resurrecting Quiet Riot with a new lineup, this time featuring drummer Frankie Banali, bassist Rudy Sarzo and guitarist Carlos Cavazo.
The group signed a production deal with producer Spencer Proffer, who recorded their new album and got them signed to CBS. The new album – Quiet Riot's American debut – featured a cover version of the Slade classic "Cum on Feel the Noize," which the band were initially reluctant to record. But the track turned out so well that upon its release as a single, it rocketed to No. 5 in the Billboard charts. Along with the success of the title song, "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" – and helped in no small part by the band's heavy exposure at MTV – it launched its parent album into the stratosphere.
But as the band experienced the first rush of success, they also began to feel that the financial rewards of their success were smaller than they deserved. Though the musicians were raking in a fortune, it was a smaller fortune than they had imagined, and they blamed Proffer and the deal they had signed with him – especially DuBrow, who vented his frustration with the situation by granting a series of interviews in which he lambasted his record label, the press and even many of his fellow L.A. metal bands, whom he said were merely riding Quiet Riot's coattails.
Watch Quiet Riot's Video for 'Cum on Feel the Noize'
"It was like I took a target, aimed it around my foot and shot," DuBrow admitted in an episode of Behind the Music. "And not only did I do this in one interview, I proceeded to do it in countless interviews. And no one could tell me to shut up."
The backlash that came from DuBrow's lack of diplomacy – as well as record company pressure to hurry a follow-up into the marketplace – resulted in the group's next album, Condition Critical, coming off as merely a pale re-write of Metal Health – right down to another Slade cover, "Mama Weer All Crazee Now." Though it sold three million units, it disappeared quickly, and the group began a Spinal Tap-ish fall from grace that saw them eventually fire DuBrow and continue unsuccessfully with different lineups.
After suing the band over use of the name, DuBrow ultimately re-formed Quiet Riot, releasing Terrified in 1993. The Metal Health-era lineup re-formed in 1997, but the band's moment in the sun had long since passed, and they toured at the club level for several years before calling it quits again in 2003.
DuBrow formed yet another Quiet Riot lineup for an album titled Rehab in 2006, which came and went with barely a commercial whimper. On Nov. 27, 2007 DuBrow was found dead in his apartment in Las Vegas. It was later determined that he had died of a cocaine overdose approximately six days previously.
Though that appeared to be the final blow for Quiet Riot, Banali announced a new lineup in September 2010. The band began regularly touring, through with several different singers.
Watch Quiet Riot's Video for 'Metal Health (Bang Your Head)'