[Credit: Ozzy Delaney , Kerry King & Jeff Hanneman (8167222064) , CC BY 2.0 ]
Sports and metal have long and shared histories. The biggest bands have frequently turned to ball parks and football fields to put on the most spectacular shows. The UK's biggest metal festival , Download, has been held at Donington Park race track since 2003 - and its predecessor Monsters Of Rock ran at the same venue from 1980 through 1996. 'Pedal to the metal' in that leafy corner of Leicestershire can mean distortion and overdrive as frequently as it does the accelerator.
Sports teams haven't hesitated to latch onto metal either. Pantera wrote Puck Off for the NHL's Dallas Stars, who still use it as a goal song. The Washington Capitals fight song Unleash The Fury comes courtesy of local DC melodic death metallers Darkest Hour. Individual players have also declared their allegiances. On DC's diamond, Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle would frequently make his way to the mound to Metallica's For Whom The Bell Tolls . Let's take a look at four artists who're as happy in a seat at the stadium as they are on a stage there.
Kerry King - Las Vegas Raiders
It seems like half of thrash follows the Raiders - perhaps unsurprising given both their origins in the Bay Area. Metallica have been snapped in Raiders gear, and Steve Souza (Exodus, Dublin Death Patrol) has said "I don’t claim to be anything with San Francisco…..beautiful city, can’t stand their sports teams….I’m an Oakland guy – Raiders, A’s." The ex-Slayer axeman is a little different though. When King was a young man, the franchise moved to his native Los Angeles and played there through the glory years of 'the big four' from 1982-1994. He picked them up there, and followed them back in Oakland from 94 through 2019. The team are now in the heart of casino country as the Las Vegas Raiders and King told New York magazine in 2019, “My team is the Raiders. I’ve already got my tickets for when they move to Las Vegas".
Steve Harris - West Ham
Across the pond, soccer has fans devoted enough to rival any metal band's front row, and the Iron Maiden star has never made any secret of his love for West Ham United. He attends every game he can, the two have done a kit collaboration and his signature Fender Precision bass comes with a West Ham club crest on the body, the same as the one he frequently plays. Harris plays soccer with his own amateur side, the Maidonians, and in charity games has shared the pitch with greats of the game like Gerd Muller, Glenn Hoddle and Patrick Vieira.
Phil Anselmo - New Orleans Saints
It could be suspected Anselmo only agreed to do Puck Off for the Stars as New Orleans don't have an NHL team. He has no love for Dallas' football team, explaining "I lived in Dallas at the height of the Irvin/Smith/Aikman/Johnson era and hated it". He was honored to hold, and be pictured with the Super Bowl XLIV trophy that the Saints brought back to his hometown and friends have said Anselmo will talk about the Saints "for as long as you'll let him". There's plenty to talk about this year. Briefly favorites for their NFC South division when Tampa Bay's Tom Brady briefly retired, the Saints could be something of a wild card this season. Jameis Winston is an unpredictable quarterback, although has a talented receiving corps and the New Orleans defense still snarls like a Dimebag Darrell riff. Phil will be pleased to note the NFL betting odds listed at Coral rate their chances for Super Bowl LVI higher than those of the Dallas Cowboys, though.
Eddie Vedder - Chicago Cubs
The Pearl Jam frontman reps the Bulls and the Bears, but his true love lies in baseball with the Chicago Cubs. Indeed, MetalDevastationRadio has footage of him jamming with buskers outside Wrigley Field! That time, he was attending as a fan, although Pearl Jam have played the ballpark many times, including a show in 2013 that went on until 2am. Cubs legend Ernie Banks came on stage during the (like baseball sometimes) rain-disrupted gig and a clearly starstruck Eddie told the crowd "It’s kind of like I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this one...Not only is this the crown jewel of Chicago, but the crown jewel of the whole planet earth.” The perennial "loveable losers", Cubs fans have gone home disappointed on many, many evenings. Not that one.