How the Headbangers' Ball led me to a Twisted Sister DJ set in West End

stephen foster twisted sister

Twisted Sister star Dee Snider partying with Foz like it’s 1986. - Credit: Stephen Foster

In his latest On Air in Suffolk Column, broadcaster Stephen Foster recalls the days of the Headbangers' Ball, and interviewing rock legend Robert Plant.

The rock band Led Zeppelin will always have a special place in my heart. Sadly, I was too young to catch their one and only visit to Ipswich.

That was in 1971 when they famously performed at The Baths Hall on a short Autumn tour to promote their fourth album featuring classics like Stairway To Heaven, Black Dog and Rock And Roll. 

I did eventually get to see them at Knebworth in the summer of 1979. To be honest I didn't get to see much at all as I was a very long way from the stage but I did catch glimpses of them via a video screen and I most certainly heard them. That turned out to be one of their final appearances as the following year drummer John Bonham died.

Lead singer Robert Plant didn't waste too much time in getting back in the groove. He launched a solo career which continues to this very day. In 1988 during my Headbangers' Ball days I was given the opportunity to interview the great man before a show of his at Essex University in Colchester.

stephen foster robert plant

Foz’s rare signed promotion LP for Robert Plant’s album The Principle Of Moments - Credit: Stephen Foster

It was an offer I couldn't possibly refuse and I wasn't disappointed with the chat which I broadcast a few days later. Robert was an absolute gentleman and was only too happy to sign a promotional album I'd been sent a few years earlier. 

Presenting the The Headbangers' Ball show was certainly an eye opener particularly as it was during an era when some bands from both sides of the pond did just as much pouting as playing. Many groups took a liking to plenty of lipstick, powder and paint and that was certainly the case for American rock outfit Twisted Sister.

In the Spring of 1986 they toured the UK and little did I know when I saw them at the Ipswich Gaumont that I'd soon be guest DJ at their end-of-tour bash in London's West End. The party took place at the Limelight Club and I was the first DJ to work there. 

With a large case of rock records and accompanied by my good friend and fellow heavy metal fan Adrian Sheehy we drove to the capital, parked up and set up, ready for what we knew would be a lively night. The free booze was flowing throughout and I'd be lying if I said I stayed sober. 

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider popped up to the DJ console to say hello and among the many guests was Elvis Costello. He was the last person I expected to see there and wearing a trenchcoat he certainly didn't dress for the occasion. Elvis can only have been there for the beer which his record label at the time Warner Brothers had provided as if the consumption of alcohol was about to go out of fashion. 

Unfortunately, Adrian ended the night barely able to talk let alone drive home so we spent the night sleeping it all off in his car in a multi-storey just over the road in Chinatown. 

Next week I'll be relaunching my Headbangers' Ball show online. It'll be going out every Wednesday between 8pm and 10pm and there'll be lots of music and memories recalling the days that so many people still speak so fondly about. 

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