Heavy Metal Goes Platinum

Polishing their music, if not their image, rock's raunchy, long-haired rebels win a growing mainstream audience

Poison. Anthrax. Alice in Chains. Skid Row. The band names alone conjure images of mayhem, torture and death. Heavy-metal rock, with its raw lyrics, pummeling beats, banshee vocals and buzz-saw guitars, seems custom-made for leather-clad lowlifes with tattooed biceps and lobotomized brains. Teenagers love it. Always have. But during the early 1980s, when the insipid glam-rock of Duran Duran ruled the charts, heavy metal was the idiot in the basement, shunned by music-industry executives and dismissed by critics as adolescent noise.

Not so in the hardheaded '90s. Today Duran Duran is history, and heavy metal is white-hot. Thanks to bands like...

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