Barnsley-based lead signer Biff Byford and his band, in their wisdom chose Hillsborough as their venue and half-time at the Sheffield Wednesday versus Sunderland match as the occasion for 20,000 odd football fans to bang their heads in time with Wheels of Steel.
Unfortunately, the crowd were less enthusiastic than the heavy metal veterans themselves and according to eye-witnesses, the venture was excruciating to behold, with some fans even booing Saxon off the pitch.
It was probably doomed from the outset for three reasons. 1 Saxon may have been local but there were no guarantees that their music was popular with the majority present, 2 Virtually every fan over 25 and probably many under that age would have felt like prats playing air guitar at a football match 3 Not enough people there had drunk sufficient alcohol beforehand to lose their inhibitions.
Oh and it didn’t help that Wednesday were three goals down at the interval and so three sides of the ground weren’t exactly in the best of moods.
My own personal headbanging memories still make me cringe almost three decades since I shook the last bits of dandruff out of my hair.
I’m afraid my air guitar has been gathering dust since my University days and will never see the light of day again even though I’m probably one of the few 40-somethings with shake-friendly hair..
If the truth be told, I was always self-conscious about the whole process even after a few pints.
Which is more than could be said for some of my mates, one who still proudly indulges, despite his days of having long blond locks and looking the spittin’ image of Alex Lifeson, circa Permanent Waves, being long gone.
The problem with headbanging (apart from giving you a headache and messing your hair up) was that it was never particularly cool and if you wanted to chat up a girl at a disco, it was probably best to wait until Spandau Ballet’s True was blasting out rather than go steaming in as Motorhead’s Ace of Spades hit the turntable.
Then again, I had another pal, whose Angus Young act was so impressive it proved quite an effecting tool when it came to pulling girls.
And I must admit the sight of good-looking girls on the dancefloor, dressed in white cheesecloth and tight jeans, with hands perched seductively on their thighs as they slowly tossed their long, frizzy hair round and round, certainly did it for me.
But what I always found so baffling about the “art” of headbanging was that it was deemed the mandatory “dance” for everything loosely labelled heavy rock.
Now even I was OK freaking out to AC/DC’s Whole Lotta Rosie, Alright Now by Free or Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog.
Where it all got a bit complicated was when something like I Want You To Want Me by Cheap Trick or Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper came on. Great songs but not exactly riff-heavy, air-guitar conducive tunes.
And it all became very silly indeed when a song heavily featured an instument which wasn’t the guitar. You could just about get away with having a quick blast on some invisible drums at the start of Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll before John Bonham morphed into Jimmy Page.
But I can still recall seeing some lads playing “Air keyboards” at the start of Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell and even “Air xylophones” when Xanadu by Rush was played.
Trust me, those guys never did pull the girls!