Monsters of Rock
Monsters of Rock was an annual (hard rock / heavy metal) music festival held in England, that branched into other locations like The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Soviet Union.
In 1980, promoter Paul Loasby, along with Maurice Jones, planned a one day festival dedicated specifically for bands within the hard rock and heavy metal genre. Loasby was an established and successful promoter working that year on the Rainbow UK tour and penned the festival as the final show of the tour for the band to headline. Jones knew the owner of the Donington Park race track, Tom Wheatcroft, located next to the village of Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England, and the site was chosen to host the event.
Donington Park was unknown as major location but its location in the East Midlands next to the M1, A42 and A50 allowed for better transportation to the site from around the country. Additionally the site ground level sloped which allowed for a better viewing for the audience throughout the site.
The first Monsters of Rock line-up consisted of a mix of British and international bands and was a success with 35,000 heavy metal fans attending. Although only conceived as a one off event, it was mentioned on the day the idea that the festival will return the following year and the first edition birthed what would become a regular festival for the next 15 years, becoming synonymous as a Mecca for fans of the genre and further establishing the Midlands as the home of heavy metal.
Over the years, the attendance continued to grow, reaching 107,000 in 1988, when two fans died during Guns N' Roses set. Initially the blame was thought to be the size of the crowd and a rush forward during the bands set but officially the cause is laid on the weather, causing muddy and wet conditions on the sloping ground. As a result the festival was cancelled the following year, returning in 1990 with a limitation to the crowd of 75,000.
The festival had been held in parallel in West Germany from 1983 to 1991. In 1988, the festival occurred for the first time in France, Italy, Spain and Netherlands. It was held as a one time shot in 1991 in Soviet Union, Poland, Belgium, Hungary. In 1994, the festival was exported overseas to Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
The festival continued on as the premier hard rock event in Great Britain in the 90's but started to fall upon hard times as heavy metal became less popular, with another cancellation in 1993 due to being unable to find a strong enough headliner. In 1995 the festival found itself in a similar situation until Metallica agreed to play with the condition of the band having control over the event and naming it Escape from the Studio. In 1996 Ozzy Osbourne and KISS co-headlined the festival and although plans to extend the festival into a two-day event in 1997, the promoters once again found themselves in a struggle for headliners and the event was cancelled and discontinued.
Donington Park remained event-less until 2001 when the Rock and Blues Festival and Stereophonics held events at the site. In 2002 the Ozzfest tour returned to the UK using Donington Park as their only British event and the following year Live Nation picked up the reigns as Monsters of Rock's succcessor in the name of Download Festival. An outstanding success from the offset, the festival continues to this day having increased to a three-day event with five stages, though as of 2008 the event has been relegated outside of the track.
To date, the only band that have headlined the festival more than twice, is AC/DC, with three occasions: 1981, 1984, 1991.
(Note: Line-ups are listed with the headlining band first, followed by the reverse order of appearance by the other bands)
16 August 1980
- April Wine
- Judas Priest
- Saxon (released as the semi-official live album Donnington: The Live Tracks [sic] )
22 August 1981
21 August 1982
20 August 1983
18 August 1984
- AC/DC (first band to headline twice)
- Van Halen (David Lee Roth's final appearance with Van Halen in the UK)
- Ozzy Osbourne
- Gary Moore
- Mötley Crüe
- Tommy Vance (DJ)
17 August 1985
16 August 1986
22 August 1987
20 August 1988
18 August 1990
The entire 1990 festival was simultaneously broadcast live on BBC Radio 1
17 August 1991
22 August 1992
4 June 1994
This was the first year that two stages were used. Readers of Kerrang! magazine were invited to vote on bands to appear at the festival, and Extreme easily won the right to appear second on the bill.
26 August 1995 1995 was not officially billed as 'Monsters Of Rock' but as 'Escape from the Studio' due to Metallica's decision to headline while recording the Load album.
- Metallica (Their fourth appearance and only appearance as headliner)
- Skid Row
- Slash's Snakepit
- White Zombie
- Machine Head
- Warrior Soul
- Corrosion of Conformity
17 August 1996. Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss co-headlined with Kiss being the final band on stage.
3 June 2006 - Milton Keynes Bowl
International Events 
1983 Germany Tour 
- Blue Öyster Cult
- Thin Lizzy Thin Lizzy's last live performance with Phil Lynott
- Meat Loaf
- Twisted Sister
- Ozzy Osbourne
1984 North European Tour 
1986 North European Tour 
1987 North European Tour 
1988 USA & European Tour 
USA: May 23th - July 30th
- Iron Maiden
- David Lee Roth
- Testament (Megadeth cancelled)
- Great White
- Treat (did not play in Bochum)
1990 European Tour 
The Netherlands: Utrecht, Stadion Galgenwaard - 26 August 1990
Italy: Bologna, Parco nord - 30 August 1990
Germany: Mannheim, Maimarktgegelände Eisstadion - 1 September 1990
Note: Face to Face was a French band related to Trust. Faith No More was not on the ticket list but was present to the show.
1991 European Tour 
Germany: Muenchen, Galopprennbahn Muenchen Riem, 24 August 1991
The Netherlands: Nijmegen, Goffert Stadion - 1 September 1991
Germany: Mainz, Finthen Army Airfield - 7 September 1991
Austria: Graz, Liebenauer Stadion - 11 September 1991
Poland: Chorzów, Śląski Stadion - 13 September 1991
Metallica's performances of "Harvester of Sorrow" and "Creeping Death" from this show were used as B-sides for the "Sad but True" single in different regional editions. Pantera's "Cowboys from Hell" performance is featured as a playable song in the game Guitar Hero Smash Hits.
1992 South European Tour 
- Iron Maiden - the song "Heaven Can Wait" of A Real Live One album was recorded there
- Black Sabbath
- Pino Scotto
Spain: Barcelona, Plaza de Toros - 14 September 1992
Spain: San Sebastian, Velodromo de Anoeta - 17 September 1992
Spain: Madrid, Las Arenas Plaza de Toros - 18 September 1992
Spain: Madrid, Municipal Tent - 19 September 1992
1994 South American Tour 
- Black Sabbath (with Tony Martin on vocals)
- Suicidal Tendencies
- Dr. Sin
1995 South American Tour 
Chile: Santiago, Teatro Caupolican - September 1995
1996 Brazil 
- Héroes del Silencio
- Iron Maiden
- Skid Row
- Mercyful Fate
- King Diamond
1997 Argentina 
1998 South American Tour 
1999 Argentina 
2004 Italy 
Italy: Como, Stadio Sinigaglia - 13 July 2004
2005 South American Tour 
2006 Spain 
Spain: Zaragoza, Feria de Zaragoza - 18 June 2006
2007 Spain 
Spain: Zaragoza, Feria de Zaragoza - June 2007
2008 Chile & Spain 
Spain: Zaragoza, Feria de Zaragoza - July 2008
12th (Cancelled due rain)
In popular culture 
Saxon wrote the song 'And the Bands Played On' about their appearance at the 1980 festival.
The 1986 appearance by Bad News was featured in the TV mockumentary 'More Bad News'.
In 2000, radio host Harlan launched the radio show called "Monsters of Rock" which is produced by Earl Blackheart and is now distributed on the United Stations Network to radio stations across North America.
In the 2005 Half Man Half Biscuit song Mate of the Bloke, the protagonist sings of legal action taken against him by More O'Ferrall for spraying the legend "in church hall if wet" onto a billboard for Monsters of Rock.
See also 
- 1990 France