Diamond Head (English band)

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Diamond Head
Diamond Head live in 2014
Diamond Head live in 2014
Background information
OriginStourbridge, England
GenresHeavy metal
Years active
  • 1976–1985
  • 1991–1994
  • 2000–present
  • Brian Tatler
  • Karl Wilcox
  • Rasmus Bom Andersen
  • Andy Abberley
  • Dean Ashton
Past members

Diamond Head are an English heavy metal band formed in 1976 in Stourbridge, England. The band was part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement and is acknowledged by thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth as an important early influence.[1]


Early history[edit]

Two working class teenagers from Stourbridge created the band in 1976. The band recorded self-financed demo tapes in 1979. Recorded within six hours on a four-track, their unique sound and quality of writing gained enough attention for the band to tour as support to AC/DC and Iron Maiden.[2] Although several record companies expressed interests in signing the band, no contracts were forthcoming. The band was at the time managed by Reg Fellows and Sean Harris' mother (Linda Harris), who reportedly turned down an offer from the influential Leiber/Krebs Management.[3] Thus while other new wave of British heavy metal bands were signed to major labels and headlining their own tours, Diamond Head remained independent. The management decided that they would release their material through a label owned by Muff Murfin called 'Happy Face Records'. Murfin also owned the studio where Diamond Head did many of their early recordings.

Their first release was the 1979 single "Shoot Out The Lights" (b/w Helpless); their second single "Sweet and Innocent" (b/w "Streets of Gold") was released by Media Records in 1980.

That same year the band also recorded their debut album on Happy Face. Most commonly known as Lightning to the Nations, the collection was recorded in seven days at The Old Smythy Studio in Worcester, which the band described later as 'dead'.[4] The album was packaged in a plain sleeve with no title or track listings, simply bearing a signature of one of the band members. The management thought that it should be perceived as a 'demo' album so no fancy sleeve was required, making it very cheap to produce. The first 1000 copies were pressed and made available at concerts or via mail-order for £3.50. The only mail-order advertisement appeared in Sounds and ran for six weeks. The band's management did not pay for the advertisement and ended up being sued. The idea for recording this album came from Fellows and Linda Harris as an attempt to record tracks to entice attention from a record company, which would take care of the recording costs.[5]

The original stereo master tapes were lost after they were sent to the German record company, Woolfe Records, who released a vinyl version of the album with a new sleeve. The tapes were not returned until they were eventually tracked down by Lars Ulrich and Phonogram Germany for inclusion on the 1990 compilation album 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited'.

Borrowed Time[edit]

The buzz surrounding the band's live shows eventually led to a record deal with MCA Records in 1982, and rush released the Four Cuts EP, which contained two early era songs Shoot Out The Lights and Dead Reckoning. Their new status afforded them a slot on the Reading festival bill in 1982, albeit as late and unadvertised replacements for Manowar. Their set was recorded by the BBC and later released in 1992 through Raw Fruit Records as the Friday Rock Show Sessions.

Their first MCA album, Borrowed Time, featured a lavish Rodney Matthews-illustrated gatefold sleeve based on the album's Elric theme and was the most expensive sleeve commissioned by MCA at the time. The album was somewhat successful commercially, climbing to No. 24 in the UK album charts, but the band's more commercial sound on the album made it a disappointment to critics. The band were able to perform a full scale UK tour at premier venues such as London's Hammersmith Odeon, however.

To support the album Diamond Head's sixth single "In the Heat of the Night", backed with live versions of Play it Loud and Sweet and Innocent recorded at the Zig-Zag club, and an interview with DJ Tommy Vance (although the latter was not available on the 12").

The band tried a more experimental sounding follow-up to Borrowed Time, tentatively titled Making Music which later became Canterbury in 1983. The initial success of the album was stalled as the first 20,000 copies suffered vinyl pressing problems, causing the LP to jump.

In 1993 the band released Death and Progress featuring guest contributions by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Dave Mustaine. The band's reunion was short lived as they were on the verge of splitting up as soon as the record was released.


In 2003 Diamond Head and Sean Harris finally went their separate ways. Although Harris issued a press release on Blabbermouth.net [6] that said that as far as he was concerned he had as much right over the Diamond Head name as anyone else, and that as far he was concerned he was still in the band.

Nick Tart era[edit]

Nick Tart & Brian Tatler at The Astoria, London, 2005

The band's next album, All Will Be Revealed (the title apparently referring to Sean Harris), was released in 2005 and was very different from their early material. To promote this album they toured with Megadeth. Brian Tatler commented that this was one of the best experiences of his life and regained his enjoyment playing live with the band again.[7]

Diamond Head headlined a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the NWOBHM at the London Astoria, supported by Witchfynde, Bronz, Praying Mantis and Jaguar. This concert was later released as a live CD entitled It's Electric and also the band's first DVD, To the Devil His Due in 2006. The band's rhythm guitarist Adrian Mills left the band and was replaced with Andy 'Abbz' Abberley,[8] previously in Cannock band Chase with drummer Karl Wilcox.

Their album The Coffin Train entered the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart at number 5, ten places higher than the band's self-titled album debuted in 2016.[9]


Diamond Head have cited their early inspirations as classic 70s British rock bands such as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, UFO, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Rush and Free,[10] Brian Tatler relating that the first albums he bought were Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin II and Deep Purple's Machine Head, and said that although a lot of his guitar work was inspired by Ritchie Blackmore and Michael Schenker it was punk rock that showed him that anyone could form a band. Colin Kimberley commented Diamond Head got their complex sound from listening to bands like Black Sabbath and Rush and realising that a song with a single riff throughout was not interesting enough.[11]

In a recent interview Tatler stated that he now tries not to be influenced by modern bands and keep his sound, although he imagines that "little bits creep into the writing process."[12]

Lack of success[edit]

Many reasons have been cited why Diamond Head never achieved significant commercial success. That they changed musical direction with Canterbury and that they did not attain a record deal soon enough are two main reasons. Once they did sign to a major label, MCA proved to be the wrong label, forcing the band to sound more commercial.[13] Also, while bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard were managed by established music management, Diamond Head were managed by Reg Fellows and the lead singer's mother.

Diamond Head should have toured the United States in the 1980s when lots of their NWOBHM brethren had already made inroads. Diamond Head did not set foot on US soil until 2002 performing one show at a New Jersey Metal Festival. It also did not help that the band did not stick to a style and give it chance to succeed before trying something new, constantly searching for a winning formula.

Then later they had problems with a viable comeback, with problems associated with the National Bowl gig with Metallica and the lack of desire from Sean Harris to carry on performing heavy metal.

Influence on Metallica[edit]

Diamond Head are probably most famous among heavy metal fans for their influence on Metallica. Metallica have acknowledged them as an important early influence and have covered Diamond Head songs at gigs such as "Sucking My Love", "Am I Evil?" and "The Prince." The earliest known recordings of these songs are a rehearsal demo recorded at then-bassist Ron McGovney's house in March 1982. The Metal Up Your Ass live demo, recorded in November of that year, featured a live rendition of "Am I Evil?". "The Prince" was also played, but the tape ran out too soon to catch it. "Sucking My Love" exists on various bootlegs that have been circulating since 1982 along with a recording on the early demo No Life Til Leather.

The first official release of "Am I Evil?" came in 1984 as part of the Creeping Death12" single paired with another NWOBHM classic "Blitzkrieg", by the band of the same name. The two songs were also included in the first pressing of the Kill 'Em All LP when it was re-released by Elektra Records.

"Helpless" would be released with The $5.98 E.P. - Garage Days Re-Revisited in 1987 and "The Prince" was included as a B-side to the "One" single.

During the Wherever We May Roam Tour Metallica played "Am I Evil?" and "Helpless" with the original band members on 5 November 1992 at NEC Arena in Birmingham.[14]

The official recordings of "Am I Evil?", "Helpless" and "The Prince" would also be featured on Metallica's 2-CD Garage Inc. compilation, a collection of numerous cover songs that the band had played over the years. The first CD in the set was newly recorded covers, one of which was Diamond Head's "It's Electric".

Metallica performed "Am I Evil?" along with the other bands in the Big 4 (Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer) at the 2011 Sonisphere festival, and with Diamond Head themselves at the Sonisphere festival in Knebworth on 8 July 2011. Lars Ulrich said that there was "a pretty good chance that none of us would be here" without Brian Tatler before playing the song. The following day Brian performed "Helpless" with Metallica and Anthrax at the Sonisphere festival in Amnéville, France.[15]

On 5 December 2011 Brian Tatler and Sean Harris joined Metallica onstage at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco to celebrate Metallica's 30th Anniversary. Together they played "The Prince", "It's Electric", "Helpless" and "Am I Evil?". Tatler and Harris also took part in a group encore of "Seek and Destroy". Metallica have performed "Am I Evil?" onstage over 750 times.

Band members[edit]

Current members
  • Brian Tatler – lead guitar, backing vocals (1976–1985, 1991–1994, 2000–present)
  • Karl Wilcox – drums (1991–1994, 2002–present)
  • Andy "Abbz" Abberley – rhythm guitar (2006–present)
  • Rasmus Bom Andersen – lead vocals (2014–present)
  • Dean Ashton – bass, backing vocals (2016–present)
Former members
  • Sean Harris – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1976–1985, 1990–1994, 2000–2004)
  • Colin Kimberley – bass, backing vocals (1976–1983)
  • Duncan Scott – drums (1976–1983)
  • Robbie France – drums (1983–1985; died 2012)
  • Mervyn Goldsworthy – bass (1983–1984)
  • Josh Phillips – keyboard (1983–1984)
  • Dave Williamson – bass (1984–1985)
  • Eddie Moohan – bass, backing vocals (1991–1992, 2002–2016)
  • Pete Vuckovic – bass, backing vocals (1992–1994)
  • Floyd Brennan – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2000–2002)
  • Adrian Mills – rhythm guitar (2003–2006)
  • Nick Tart – lead vocals (2004–2014)



Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • Shoot Out the Lights (1979)
  • Sweet and Innocent (1980)
  • Waited Too Long (1981)
  • Diamond Lights EP (1981)
  • Call Me, Four Cuts EP (1982)
  • In the Heat of the Night (1982) – [UK #67]
  • Makin' Music (1983) – [UK #87]
  • Out of Phase (1983) – [UK #80]
  • Wild on the Streets/I Can't Help Myself 12" (1991)
  • Acoustic: First Cuts EP (2002)



  • To the Devil His Due (21 November 2006)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Diamond Head Press Pack". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Supporting ACDC". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Am I Evil?". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  4. ^ Kollektor's Klassik 3, pp16
  5. ^ "News Article". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Ex Diamond Head Singer Says He Was 'Shocked' By Announcement He Was Fired From Band – Blabbermouth.net". Roadrunnerrecords.com. 27 August 2004. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Metal Invader – Diamond Head Interview". Diamond-head.net. 19 October 2005. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Andy Abberley Interview". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. 23 December 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Weekly Rock Chart Round-Up". SoundMouth.blogspot.com. 6 June 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  10. ^ Tate Bengtson. "Interview". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  11. ^ "News Article". Diamond-head.net. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  12. ^ "getreadytoroll.com". getreadytoroll.com. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  13. ^ Survivors, Classic rock Vol.124, pg57
  14. ^ "Metallica – Am I Evil / Helpless with Diamond Head – Birmingham 1992". YouTube. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Diamond Head Homepage". Diamond-head.net. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Albums Chart Top 40 | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.

External links[edit]