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07 January 2022

New Book, ‘Denim And Leather’ Chronicles The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal

Denim And Leather Book
Iron Maiden circa 1980 -Photo: Fraser Gray/Alamy Stock Photo
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A new book chronicling the rise and fall of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and its future stars such as Def Leppard and Iron Maiden is to be published by Constable in February. Denim and Leather, written by Guardian/Spectator/The Quietus contributor Michael Hann, promises to tell “the definitive story about the greatest days of British heavy rock”.

An oral history, the book features input from artists such as Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Cronos (Venom), Phil Mogg (UFO), Biff Byford (Saxon), Lars Ulrich (Metallica) and scores of less celebrated names from the grass roots British metal community.

The publishers say: “In Denim and Leather, these stars tell their own stories – their brilliant, funny tales of hubris and disaster, of ambition and success – and chart how, over a handful of years from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, a group of unlikely looking blokes from the provinces wearing spandex trousers changed heavy music forever.”

“Denim and Leather captures a moment in time and a genre of music that had a brief moment in the sun,” says Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen. “The book is an honest portrayal, directly from the horse’s mouth. The interesting thing is that it was people trying to discover their own identities. The book sums it up by the people who experienced it.”

Advance PR says, “In the late 1970s, aggressive, young bands are forming across Britain. Independent labels are springing up to release their music. But this isn’t the story of punk. Forget punk. Punk was a flash in the pan compared to this. This is the story of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a musical movement that changed the world.

From this movement – given the unwieldy acronym NWOBHM – sprang streams that would flow through metal’s subsequent development. Without NWOBHM there is no thrash metal, no death metal, no black metal.

Without the rise of Iron Maiden, NWOBHM’s standard bearers, leading the charge to South America and to South Asia, metal’s global spread is slower. Without the NWOBHM bands – who included Def Leppard, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Diamond Head and many others – the international uniform of heavy metal – the ‘battle jacket’ of a denim jacket with sleeves ripped off, and covered with patches (usually sewn on by the wearer’s mum), worn over a leather biker jacket – does not exist: “Denim and leather brought us all together,” as Saxon put it.

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