The First Metal Group To Reach The Top Of The Billboard Charts Was?
Answer: Quiet Riot
Heavy metal is a sub-genre of rock music that has enjoyed a degree of notoriety and popularity since it appeared in the late 1960s. While some of the early talent in the genre like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly, and Deep Purple had no problem selling out venues and selling records, it would take years for metal to become mainstream enough for massive numbers of fans to purchase enough albums in a short enough period of time to push a band to the top of the Billboard charts.
Interestingly, it wasn’t an old titan of the genre like Led Zeppelin that pulled it off, but a younger act: the then-still-rising American band, Quiet Riot. In the spring of 1983, they released their third studio album, Metal Health, which featured the titular single “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” as well as their cover of the 1973 Slade song “[Come] On Feel the Noize”. Ironically, the band didn’t care for the latter song and only covered it at the request of their producer (and, in true rock-band-bad-boy-fashion, even tried to screw up the recording process of the song). Despite their disdain for the song and their antics in the studio, the song went on to become one of the driving forces behind the success of the album.
Their cover of the song rocketed to the fifth slot on the Billboard singles chart, and the entire album shot right up to the top of the Billboard 200—the first time in history that a heavy metal album had topped the charts and, in the process, foreshadowing the popularity of heavy metal throughout the rest of the decade.
Image courtesy of The Pasha Music House/Wikimedia.