11 essential heavy metal facts from the QI Elves

Fans of British comedy, panel shows, Stephen Fry and proving their friends wrong no doubt know the global phenomena that is QI. Turning facts upside-down and defying the public consensus to show us all up as idiots. The people behind the show (aka the QI Elves) have created us this heavy metal factfile so you can impress your mates at the pub tonight.

The QI Elves

The QI Elves
  1. The Big Bang was quieter than a Motörhead concert.
  2. The lead singer of the death metal band Hatebeak is a 27-year-old parrot called Waldo. The band never tours because they’re concerned the decibel levels of live gigs would harm his hearing. He’s not the only non-human extreme music star. Caninus were a pitbull-fronted grind band. Their two lead singer dogs were called Basil and Budgie.
  3. Led Zeppelin performed in Denmark under the name ‘The Nobs’ because Eva von Zeppelin, granddaughter of the inventor of Zeppelin airships, threatened to sue them otherwise for tarnishing the family name.
  4. Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi once blew up Richard Branson’s prize carp. It was in 1983, while at his recording studios, and Iommi launched fireworks into his private lake and accidentally destroyed some of his fish. Iommi described Branson as ‘not happy at all’ about it.
  5. Cats get stressed out when they listen to heavy music. Research published in the Journal Of Feline Medicine And Surgery showed that if you put headphones on a cat and play it AC/DC music, its heart rate and pupil size will increase. (When they’re played classical music, by contrast, cats’ heart rates and pupil sizes decrease).
  6. A ‘mosh pit’ should really be called a ‘mash pit’. The term ‘mosh’ was coined accidentally by the band Bad Brains in about 1980. They meant to yell out on stage ‘mash it – mash down Babylon!’, a reggae inspired term. This was misheard as ‘mosh it’, and the phrase stuck.
  7. In 2007, a Swedish man had his heavy metal addiction classified as a disability, and was given financial benefits and allowed time off work to go to metal gigs. He went to 300 gigs per year.
  8. The term ‘heavy metal’ was coined by Steppenwolf in the song Born To Be Wild – but they weren’t talking about a music genre in the song, they were referring to a motorbike.
  9. The last time Monty Python star Graham Chapman appeared on film before he died was in the music video for the Iron Maiden song Can I Play With Madness.
  10. In a 2014 episode of The Simpsons, Bart wrongly referred to metal band Judas Priest as ‘death metal’. Following outrage from fans, the following episode opened with Bart writing on the blackboard: ‘Judas Priest is not “Death Metal”’.
  11. This Is Spinal Tap is the only film on IMDB to be rated out of 11, not 10.

The QI Elves also debunked three of heavy metal’s biggest myths for us. Just to warp our reality completely.

Myth: Metal musicians do a lot of shouting, but they can’t actually sing.
A recent survey of popular music singers, conducted by VVN Music, found that the two musicians with the greatest vocal range were both metal singers: Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and Mike Patton (Faith No More)

Myth: Ozzy Osbourne intentionally bit the head off a live bat on stage.
It wasn’t intentional; he thought it was a rubber toy until he bit it, at which point he was distressed to find ‘my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine.’

Myth: Metal music makes people violent and angry.
A study recently published in the journal Frontiers In Human Neuroscience found that listening to ‘extreme music’ – including heavy metal, emo, punk, screamo and hardcore – calms people down. After listening to extreme music, fans of these genres showed decreased levels of hostility, irritability and stress, and increased levels of inspiration and motivation.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.