Spinal Tap, Bill & Ted and the best heavy metal moments in Hollywood history

With Rock of Ages coming soon, Tom Cole takes a look back at some of the finest big-screen moshing moments of all time

This summer Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta Jones and Alec Baldwin will be rocking out, singing a brace of classic hair metal tunes in the movie musical Rock of Ages.


And while it’ll be exciting to see these A-listers belting out hard rock classics by the likes of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Bon Jovi, they’re not the only big stars who’ve flexed their musical muscles on the silver screen.

Hollywood history is littered with examples of big name actors letting their hair (or, in most cases, wigs) down, throwing the horns and embracing the raw power of rawk. So, as we await the arrival of the power chord-packed musical adaptation, let’s have a look back at some of the most metal moments from the movies…

1. This is Spinal Tap

The most famous rock-u-mentary of all time starred comic actors Harry Shearer, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest as the eponymous Brit metal band. While groups like Saxon, Status Quo and Black Sabbath all claim to have been the inspiration behind the film, Spinal Tap eclipsed their forebears to take on a life of their own, and still tour the world eliciting rapturous audience reactions to timeless tunes like Stonehenge, Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight and Big Bottom…


2. Bill and Ted

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves AKA Bill S. Preston Esq. and Theodore Logan’s band Wyld Stallyns were just another bunch of garage-based no-hopers until they went on their various Excellent Adventures and Bogus Journeys and eventually learned to play, finishing their second movie as a band so accomplished that they got heads banging around the world to Kiss’s God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You.

3. Rock Star

Mark Wahlberg got the chance to show off the quality of his pipes as the small-town kid done good who ends up fronting his favourite band, Steel Dragon, in the movie Rock Star. Based on the true story of Judas Priest fan Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, who sang in a Priest tribute act before being picked to replace Rob Halford in the band, the movie was a feel-good rock extravaganza.


4. Airheads

Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler starred as three dimbulb metalheads who take a radio DJ hostage in the hopes of getting some airplpay in this fun flick from the mid ‘90s. And while the band didn’t manage to hit the big time on the entertainment circuit, they proved to be the biggest group in the whole US penal system at the film’s end, transporting a jail-full of lags to bleeding-eared paradise.


5. Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke

The granddaddies of all pothead comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong hit the big time with their first cinematic adventure which saw Cheech’s Pedro de Pacas and Chong’s Anthony ‘Man’ Stoner competing in a battle of the bands as novelty act Alice Bowie. Their song Earache My Eye proved so popular with rockers the world over that nu-metallers Korn covered the song on their 1998 album Follow the Leader.

6. Bad News

Sure, Ade Edmondson, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson are better known as sitcom actors than Hollywood players, but they’ve all appeared in movies too and formed the spoof band Bad News in the early ‘80s. As the basis of two Comic Strip films, the band were so popular that they released a record (produced by Brian May) and even performed at the prestigious Monsters of Rock festival at Donnington in 1986.



So, which is your favourite big-screen heavy metal performance? Have we missed any other quintessential big-screen rock outs? Post a comment and let us know…