Some say there’s a link between the old metal industry and the rock and heavy metal music industry. Undeniably, it’s remarkable how many bands from this region have had success. Most notably Slade and Judas Priest.
Noddy Holder, of 1970s rock legends Slade, grew up on the Beechdale Estate and went to school at T.P Riley comprehensive (now Walsall Academy). He says his rough singing voice, so suited to rock ’n’ roll, came from a need to clear the throat of the dust from the local industry. Originators of ‘heavy metal’ music, Black Sabbath, played their first gigs in Walsall. Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin played in T.P. Riley school.
Video interview: Bloxwich resident Ivy Lennon talks about Slade rehearsing in the local judo club.
Rob Halford from Judas Priest also grew up on the Beechdale estate. The band, widely regarded as being one of the key heavy metal bands, were influenced by the industry around them.
“When we were kids walking to school, we’d walk past these metal foundries and see the molten metal coming out of the big vats. We were literally breathing in the fumes from these metal works, breathing in metal before heavy metal had even been invented. I’d be in school trying to do English literature and the classroom would be shaking because of the machinery,” says Rob Halford. Their lead guitarist Glenn Tipton added: “We really did grow up in a labyrinth of heavy metal. Huge foundries, big steam hammers.”
Bloxwich Baths was a famous place for gigs too. They used to cover the swimming pool over with floorboards and turn it into a dance floor. Jerry Lee Lewis played there.
“It made it easier to dance because the whole floor was bouncing” Noddy Holder remembers.
From 1857 the people of Bloxwich enjoyed gas-lit concerts and entertainment at the The Old Music Hall. It also served as a drill hall during wartime. Nowadays, it forms part of the Bloxwich C.E.Primary School.