No one single genre?outside the world of professional sports?has dominated the field of mascots quite like heavy metal. Mascots are almost as old as the genre itself. Here is a brief history of heavy metal’s five most savage icons. Bang the head that doesn’t bang!!!
Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead
Iron Maiden’s Eddie (full name Eddie the Head) was born without a body. The creation of illustrator Derek Riggs, the original Eddie was based on an image from the side of a World War II era Japanese tank. A mess of rotted flesh, muscles, and tendons with charged punk rock hair, Ed’s graced every Maiden album cover to date. Along the way he’s undergone a number of substantial changes, and even had his own video game. The most serious and life-altering (or afterlife-altering, rather) transformation happened on the cover of Maiden’s fourth album Piece of Mind, when he was lobotomized and his head shaved. All renderings going forward have had his cranium bolted shut lest his brains ooze out of his skull. He’s the most recognizable metal icon in the world and one of the most versatile too. At various times Eddie has been depicted as a Sphinx, Blade Runner-inspired Cyborg, World War II fighter pilot, and the Wicker Man. Not to mention his stints on-stage spewing blood and bile on an eager audience. Here’s a video montage of Eddie the Head:
first came to the attention of the metal-buying public as the grotesque face of Megadeth. He was featured on their first four records and just recently resurrected as the band’s mascot after a lengthy absence. Designed by guitarist Dave Mustaine, Vic has often been criticized as an Eddie the Head rip-off. While the similarities are certainly obvious (both lack skin, both have various pieces of metal bolted to their heads, both originated in the Netherworld), Vic is more skull and skeleton while Eddie is more flesh and muscle. Vic also wears the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mantra on his face ... literally. His mouth is hooked closed, ears clamped, and eyes bolted shut with a metal visor! Here’s one fan’s tribute to this enduring thrash icon:
brings a punk bite to the heavy metal mascot set. The bastardized War Pig with SS-styled spiked helmet, chain link necklace, Iron Cross, skull, and other assorted ephemera represents everything heavy metal stands for. He’s a cast iron wild boar hell-bent on destruction ... and he’s butt-ass nasty. Artist Joe Petagno had been working loosely with the British design team Hipgnosis (of Dark Side of the Moon
fame) when he first met Lemmy shortly after the Lem was unceremoniously bagged from Hawkwind. Immediately the two struck up a working relationship that would last the run of the band’s prime years. Petagno created the Snaggletooth, which has adorned every Motörhead album cover and 45 sleeve as well as countless T-shirt designs. So far as skulls go it’s probably the most original mascot we can think of. Get hypnotized with this bizarre animation of the Snaggletooth in action!
The Misfits’ Crimson Ghost
was left behind almost everywhere the band toured. Notorious for showing up to gigs with their Crimson Ghost stencil and a can of white spray-paint, the band left its mark on any fan willing enough to dedicate their leather jacket to these New Jersey goons. The ghost was actually appropriated from an obscure 1946 horror movie poster. Misfits founder Glenn Danzig’s career has long been characterized by his allegiance to the dark side. After he left the Misfits, Danzig started a new venture, Samhain, and thus needed a new skull. The Dazing Skull
was appropriated from a short-lived Marvel comic entitled The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior
. Its first appearance had it intertwined with the Samhain logo on the cover of Initium
. Since then this horned beast has been on every album cover of both Samhain and the aptly named successor band, Danzig. Here’s some classic vintage Misfits live footage of the band performing “Skulls!”