Thirty Years Ago This Weekend: The US Festival 1983

Hails readers and welcome to another “Music Milestone” installment on the Official Blog for PiercingMetal; Today we are raising a glass to the fact that this weekend will be thirty years since the US Festival of 1983 and this one in particular is special to many Metal heads based on the absolutely killer “Heavy Metal Day” that was held. I will speak more about that in a moment or two but first a little more about the festival itself. The event was the brainchild of Steve Wozniak who was a part of Apple Computer and while we are speaking about the anniversary of the 1983 event there was also one in 1982 that just had groups of bands playing each day without any style separation. They would hold the second one on Memorial Day Weekend and that excited me as a young fan of music even though I was nowhere near California because not only was it a holiday weekend but it was my birthday on the day allotted for Heavy Metal. How cool was that? Saturday’s roster was a New Wave one and I actually enjoyed a lot of that stuff as well so I figured I would try to watch any of the stuff that was being broadcast if I could find a friend who was able to share with his friends. In 1983 the entire world didn’t have cable television by the way. No publicly accessed Internet either. It was a terrible time for sure ? Just as I planned to lay out some plans the new bosses at the investment firm where I was a clerk informed all the staff in my department that we would be working the whole holiday weekend on a new system to see how it worked. This was going to suck. Below are the bands for the Saturday session.

Saturday, May 28 (New Wave Day): Divinyls, INXS, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, The English Beat, A Flock of Seagulls, Stray Cats, Men at Work, The Clash

Of course the work we did all day Saturday was arduous and long. It also never seemed to have an ending point and when the managers came into the offices to remind us that we would be doing one more round of this seemingly endless toil tomorrow I felt my heart sink a little bit. You see that was officially the birthday and of course the previously mentioned Metal day. Sigh.

Poster - US Festival 1983 - Metal

Sunday, May 29 (Heavy Metal Day): Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, Triumph, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Scorpions

One of the team had a small radio in the department and we would hear periodic reports on the fun and I think my friends called me once or twice to tell me who had played a little while ago. There was no text messaging back then so the endless run of what was happening by the second was possible and calling into the City from Brooklyn was technically a long distance call at the time if memory serves me correctly and I know you always had to get the okay for those kind of calls from the parents at that age. Believe me I did not enjoy missing some of the new Metal bands hitting the scene along with some of the iconic legends. The Priest set was eventually made available on their 30th Anniversary of the “Screaming For Vengeance” album while the Triumph and Quiet Riot set had been available for some time. In the years that followed I only ever saw a chance clip of the Ozzy, Scorpions and Crue sets. I never saw a moment of the Van Halen one and hope that someday soon a proper and encompassing film is released.

Monday, May 30 (Rock Day): Los Lobos (on a side stage only), Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, Berlin, Quarterflash, U2, Missing Persons, The Pretenders, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, David Bowie

As I write this I cannot remember if we ended up working on the Monday holiday itself, but I pretty much think we did since this was the only time that this work could be tested. At this point my spirit was broken since so many bands that I was aspiring to be like had played and I missed them all. Looking back on it the project that these managers forced us to do was a failure and they were swapped for yet another system but by then I had left the firm and gone onto other things in life. At the end of the day the festival found about 670,000 people in attendance and it would end up losing 12 million dollars.

Saturday June 4th (Country Day): Thrasher Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, Hank Williams, Jr., Emmylou Harris & The Hot Band, Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Riders in the Sky, Willie Nelson, Gerald Ray Band

Did you get to watch this event on Cable when it aired or do you have any recordings of it that you still listen to in today’s wild and crazy world? Let us know in the comments because it would be great to hear what you remember about it all.

Official Festival Wiki:

I’ve linked the Metal performances that have been

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