Monsters of Rock

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Hawkwind playing Donington in 1982 Hawkwind Donington 1982.jpg
Hawkwind playing Donington in 1982

Monsters of Rock was an annual hard rock and heavy metal music festival held in Castle Donington, England, from 1980 to 1996, taking place every year except 1989 and 1993. It later branched into other locations such as the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the United States, and the Soviet Union.



In 1980, promoter Paul Loasby, along with Maurice Jones, planned a one-day festival dedicated specifically for bands within the hard rock and heavy metal genre. Loasby was an established and successful promoter working that year on the Rainbow UK tour and penned the festival as the final show of the tour for the band to headline. Jones knew the owner of the Donington Park race track, Tom Wheatcroft, located next to the village of Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England, and the site was chosen to host the event. [1]

(A year earlier, promoter Bill Graham’s July 1979 Day on the Green Festival at Oakland Coliseum in California was also dubbed "The Monsters of Rock" show. This concert featured Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and AC/DC.)

Donington Park was unknown as a major location but its location in the East Midlands next to the M1, A42 and A50 allowed for better transportation to the site from around the country. Additionally the site ground level sloped which allowed for a better viewing for the audience throughout the site.

The first Monsters of Rock line-up consisted of a mix of British and international bands and was a success with 35,000 heavy metal fans attending. Although only conceived as a one off event, it was mentioned on the day the idea that the festival will return the following year and the first edition birthed what would become a regular festival for the next 15 years, becoming synonymous as a Mecca for fans of the genre and further establishing the Midlands as the home of heavy metal. [2]

Over the years, the attendance continued to grow, reaching 107,000 in 1988, when two fans died during the Guns N' Roses set. Initially the blame was thought to be the size of the crowd and a rush forward during the band's set but officially the cause is laid on the weather, causing muddy and wet conditions on the sloping ground. As a result, the festival did not take place in 1989, and it was replaced that year by a two-day festival similar to Monsters of Rock, the Moscow Music Peace Festival in Russia, which included performances by several Monsters of Rock veterans Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe and Scorpions. [3] Monsters of Rock returned the year after with a limitation to the crowd of 75,000. [4]

The festival had been held in parallel in West Germany from 1983 to 1991. In 1984 and 1986 the festival branched into Sweden. In 1988, the festival occurred for the first time in France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. It was held as a one-time event in 1991 in Soviet Union (one of the largest concerts of all time, with an estimated audience of over 1.6 million), Poland, Belgium, Hungary. In 1994, the festival was exported overseas to Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

In 1993 the MONSTERS OF ROCK® radio show debuted in the United States with host Harlan Hendrickson. Guests on the show include everyone from AC/DC, KISS, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Cheap Trick, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Dio, Y&T, Guns N' Roses, Slayer and Poison.

The Monsters of Rock festival continued on as the premier hard rock and heavy metal event in Great Britain in the 1990s but started to fall upon hard times as heavy metal became less popular, with another cancellation in 1993 due to being unable to find a strong enough headliner. In 1995 the festival found itself in a similar situation until Metallica agreed to play with the condition of the band having control over the event and naming it "Escape from the Studio". In 1996 Ozzy Osbourne and KISS co-headlined the festival and although there were plans to extend the festival into a two-day event in 1997, the promoters once again found themselves in a struggle for headliners and the event was cancelled and discontinued.

Donington Park remained event-less until 2001 when the Rock and Blues Festival and Stereophonics held events at the site. In 2002 the Ozzfest tour returned to the UK using Donington Park as their only British event and the following year Live Nation picked up the reins as Monsters of Rock's successor in the name of Download Festival. An outstanding success from the offset, the festival continues to this day having increased to a three-day event with five stages, though as of 2008 the event has been relegated outside of the track.

In 2006, the Monsters of Rock name was revived and held at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, England, for a one off event headlined by Deep Purple and with Alice Cooper as a special guest.

In 2012 Harlan Hendrickson & Monsters of Rock Worldwide partnered with Larry Morand and Mike London to launch the inaugural Monsters Of Rock Cruise.


(Note: Line-ups in this section are for the events held in the United Kingdom. They are listed with the headlining band first, followed by the reverse order of appearance by the other bands.)


16 August 1980


22 August 1981



21 August 1982


20 August 1983


18 August 1984

1984 Monsters of Rock banner 1984 Monsters Of Rock Banner.jpg
1984 Monsters of Rock banner



17 August 1985



16 August 1986


22 August 1987



20 August 1988



18 August 1990

The entire 1990 festival was simultaneously broadcast live on BBC Radio 1, which had previously recorded many festivals for later broadcast.


17 August 1991



22 August 1992 (this was also broadcast live on Radio 1)


4 June 1994 (another festival broadcast live; highlights were transmitted in 1995 and 1996)

This was the first year that two stages were used. Readers of Kerrang! magazine were invited to vote on bands to appear at the festival, and Extreme easily won the right to appear second on the bill.


26 August 1995

1995 was not officially billed as 'Monsters of Rock' but as 'Escape from the Studio' due to Metallica's decision to headline while recording the Load album.


17 August 1996. Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss co-headlined with Kiss being the final band on stage.


3 June 2006 – Milton Keynes Bowl [12]

International Events

1983 Germany Tour

Germany: Dortmund, Westfalenhallen – 2 September 1983 Kaiserslautern, Waldstadion am Erbsenberg – 3 September 1983 Nürnberg, Zeppelinfeld – 4 September 1983

1984 North European Tour

Sweden: Stockholm, Råsunda Stadium – 25 August 1984

Germany: Karlsruhe, Wildparkstadion – 1 September 1984
Germany: Nuremberg, Zeppelinfeld – 2 September 1984

1986 North European Tour

Sweden Stockholm, Råsunda Stadium – 23 August 1986

Germany: Nuremberg, Zeppelinfeld – 30 August 1986
Germany: Mannheim, Maimarktgelände – 31 August 1986

1987 European Tour

Italy: Reggio Emilia, Aeroporto di Reggio Emilia – 26 August 1987

Germany: Nuremberg, Messegelände – 29 August 1987
Germany: Pforzheim, Stadion im Brötzinger Tal – 30 August 1987

1988 USA & European Tour

USA: 23 May – 30 July

Germany: Schweinfurt, Mainwiesen Gelände – 27 August 1988
Germany: Bochum, Ruhrland Stadion – 28 August 1988

Netherlands: Tilburg, Willem II Stadion – 4 September 1988

Italy: Modena, Festa de l'Unità – 10 September 1988

Spain: Pamplona, Plaza de Toros – 17 September 1988
Spain: Madrid, Casa de Campo – 18 September 1988
Spain: Barcelona, Plaza de Toros – 22 September 1988

France: Paris, Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy – 24 & 25 September 1988

1990 European Tour

Sweden: Stockholm, Stockholm Globe Arena – 21 August 1990

Germany: Berlin, Waldbühne – 23 August 1990

Germany: Dortmund, Westfalenhallen – 25 August 1990

Netherlands: Utrecht, Stadion Galgenwaard – 26 August 1990

Italy: Bologna, Arena Parco Nord – 30 August 1990

Germany: Mannheim, Maimarktgelände – 1 September 1990

Note: This particular show was promoted as "Super Rock 1990". [13]

France: Paris, Hippodrome de Vincennes – 3 September 1990

Note: Face to Face was a French band related to Trust. Faith No More was not on the ticket list but was present to the show. [14]

1991 European Tour

Denmark: Copenhagen, Gentofte Stadion – 10 August 1991

Poland: Chorzów, Śląski Stadion – 13 August 1991

Hungary: Budapest, Népstadion – 22 August 1991

Germany: München, Galopprennbahn München Riem, 24 August 1991

Belgium: Hasselt, Belgium, Domein Kiewit – 30 August 1991

Netherlands: Nijmegen, Goffert Stadion – 1 September 1991

Germany: Mainz, Finthen Army Airfield – 7 September 1991

Austria: Graz, Liebenauer Stadion – 11 September 1991

Italy: Modena, Festa dell'Unità – 14 September 1991

France: Paris, Hippodrome de Vincennes – 21 September 1991 [15] [16]

Spain: Barcelona, Estadio Olímpico Lluís Companys – 25 September 1991

Soviet Union: Moscow, Tushino Airfield – 28 September 1991

Partially released as For Those About to Rock, Monsters in Moscow. The versions of "Whole Lotta Rosie" and "The Jack" that AC/DC performed at this concert, were released on two of AC/DC's live albums, AC/DC Live and AC/DC Live: 2 CD Collector's Edition. Metallica's performances of "Harvester of Sorrow" and "Creeping Death" from this show were used as B-sides for the "Sad but True" single in different regional editions. Pantera's "Cowboys from Hell" performance is featured as a playable song in the video games Guitar Hero Smash Hits and Rock Band 4 . The Airfield itself was recreated as a virtual venue in Guitar Hero Metallica .

1992 South European tour

Italy: Reggio Emilia, Arena Festa Nazionale Dell'Unita' – 12 September 1992

The bands Danzig and Gun both canceled their appearances at the festival. They are featured on the poster for the event.

Spain: Barcelona, Plaza de Toros – 14 September 1992
Spain: San Sebastián, Velódromo de Anoeta – 17 September 1992
Spain: Madrid, Las Arenas Plaza de Toros – 18 September 1992
Spain: Zaragoza, Municipal Tent – 19 September 1992

1994 South American Tour

Brazil: São Paulo, Estádio do Pacaembu – 27 August 1994

Chile: Santiago, Estación Mapocho – 1 September 1994

Argentina: Buenos Aires, River Plate Stadium – 3 September 1994

1995 South American Tour

Brazil: São Paulo, Estádio do Pacaembu – September 1995

Chile: Santiago, Teatro Caupolicán – September 1995

Argentina: Buenos Aires, Ferro Carril Oeste Stadium – September 1995

1996 Brazil

Brazil: São Paulo, Estádio do Pacaembu – 24 August 1996

This event marked the last performance of the original lineup of Skid Row, before parting with singer Sebastian Bach and drummer Rob Affuso.

1997 Argentina

Argentina: Buenos Aires, Ferro Carril Oeste Stadium – 13 December 1997

1998 South American Tour

Brazil: São Paulo - Estádio Ícaro de Castro Melo - near Ibirapuera Park – 26 September 1998

Van Halen was supposed to be the headliner, but it never became official or happened.

Chile: Santiago, Velódromo Estadio Nacional – 10 September 1998

Argentina: Buenos Aires, Vélez Sársfield Stadium – 12 December 1998

1999 Argentina

Argentina: Buenos Aires, River Plate Stadium – 14 May 1999

2004 Italy

Italy: Como, Stadio Sinigaglia – 13 July 2004

2005 South American Tour

Argentina: Buenos Aires, Ferro Carril Oeste Stadium – 11 September 2005

Chile: Santiago, Pista Atlética Estadio Nacional – 13 September 2005

2006 Spain

Spain: Zaragoza, Feria de Zaragoza – 18 June 2006

2007 Spain

Spain: Zaragoza, Feria de Zaragoza – June 2007

2008 Chile & Spain

Chile: Santiago, Pista Atlética Estadio Nacional – 1 April 2008

Spain: Zaragoza, Feria de Zaragoza – July 2008

2013 Brazil

Brazil: São Paulo, Anhembi Convention Center – October 2013

2015 South American Tour

Brazil: São Paulo, Anhembi Convention Center – April 2015

Brazil: Curitiba, Pedreira Paulo Leminski – 28 April 2015

Brazil: Porto Alegre, Estádio Passo d'Areia – 30 April 2015

Argentina: Buenos Aires, Ciudad del Rock – 2 May 2015

2016 Germany

Germany: Sankt Goarshausen, Loreley Freilichtbühne – 17 June 2016; Bietigheim-Bissingen, Festplatz am Viadukt - 18 June 2016

Saxon wrote the song "And the Bands Played On" about their appearance at the 1980 festival.

The 1986 appearance by Bad News was featured in the TV mockumentary More Bad News.

In 1993, the Monsters of Rock radio show debuted. Harlan Hendrickson, host and creator of the Monsters of Rock, broadcasts from the rock radio station WRIF in Detroit. The Monsters of Rock is currently syndicated nationally/internationally through United Stations Radio Networks where it currently airs in over 60 markets in the United States alone. The program currently holds the number-one or number-two slots among males 25–54 on the majority of stations that carry it. Guests on the show have included of AC/DC, KISS, Van Halen, Motörhead, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Cheap Trick, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Slayer and Poison.

In 1994, Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Take A Number", Beavis and Butt-Head attempt to get tickets to Creatures of Rock which is a parody of Monsters of Rock

In the 2005 Half Man Half Biscuit song "Mate of the Bloke" on their album Achtung Bono , the protagonist sings of legal action taken against him by More O'Ferrall for spraying the legend "in church hall if wet" onto a billboard for Monsters of Rock.

In 2012, Harlan Hendrickson teamed up with Larry Morand and Mike London to launch the "Monsters of Rock Cruise" which is a multi day music cruise celebrating the Castle Donnington festival. Artists such as Saxon, UFO, Cinderella, Tesla, The Quireboys and others from the original festival have been featured on the cruise.[ citation needed ]

See also

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  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. Elliott, Paul (August 2015). "Biff Byford's Top 10 Festival Moments". Classic Rock #213. p. 123.
  6. "The Monsters of Rock". June 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  10. "The Monsters of Rock". June 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
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  14. 1990 France
  15. "AC/DC tour history". Retrieved 25 April 2021.
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Coordinates: 52°50′40″N1°20′16″W / 52.8444°N 1.3377°W / 52.8444; -1.3377