Lesser Known Stars of the NWOBHM: Heavy Pettin
Formed in 1981 by guitarist Gordon Bonnar, bassist Brian Waugh and drummer Gary Moat, who were all members of a band called Weeper, Heavy Pettin was one of the best bands to emerge from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, though certainly not one of the most successful. Signed internationally to the Polydor label, their debut self-titled album was released in the US in 1983.
The album, known as Lettin' Loose in some other countires, met with moderate success but was not able to become one of the year's breakout albums. It was produced by Queen guitarist Brian May though the style was noticeably heavier than May's band. Similar to then powerhouse rockers Def Leppard, the album did find a following, though small compared to Def Leppard's massive fan base.
Featuring the twin guitar attack common to other hard rock acts of the period, it cannot really be said the band offered anything new. But they were masters of their chosen style and excellent performers as well as gifted songwriters with catchy hooks and crunching melodies abundant in their tunes. Lead vocalist Steve “Hamie” Hayman's high pitched vocals may have been a bit hard for some fans to get used to but added a distinct characteristic to the band that set them apart from the pack.
In 1984, the band hit the road opening for Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne and, while the lads were well received on tour, they still seemed unable to get a firm foothold on the climb to rock star success. Scorching live performances certainly helped the band, but they still lacked the breakout hit that would make them a household name.
The band released their second US album, Rock Ain't Dead, in 1985. It featured more songs in the same vein of hard rock but, while receiving all around good reviews, also failed to ignite the band's career. Though things were going better in other countries, the band never seemed to get the recognition many felt they deserved. With album sales lagging behind perhaps overinflated expectations, the band would flounder for a couple of years before being dropped by Polydor and breaking up.
A third album had been completed but would not hit the market until released in Europe by the FM Revolver label in 1989, well after the band's demise. Die hard fans the world over were thrilled to finally hear the album but unfortunately its release did not signal a return of the band. Hayman would put together a new Heavy Pettin in 1998 but the magic was gone. In 2007 a collection of unreleased tracks, Prodigal Songs, was released.
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