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Headbangers’ Neck & The BMJ Lacking Clue

Many rockers have had the dreaded Headbangers’ Neck after a good night out at a gig or rock night.  Usually the heavier the band, the faster the headbanging.  I must declare an interest here – I’ve been into hard rock, heavy metal, classic rock et al since 1988 so I’ve seen a thing or two.

Slayer’s singer/bass player Tom Araya recently had an operation on his neck and has revealed that his headbanging was the cause of much of the pain he was suffering and he can no longer do his trademark helicopter headbang (Language advisory, best not to watch this at work). It’s an interesting and revealing interview because there is discussion of injury related pain and painkiller use.

Tom said that he can no longer headbang.  He has a titanium plate in his neck.  The message is clear: don’t overdo the headbanging.

The British Medical Journal has an interesting article on headbanging but there are a few bits I do wonder about.  Is there a lack of Clue at the BMJ?

I’m sure they mean well but I’m not sure if their assessment of Sir Cliff Richard as “an influential and youth focused musician” is all that accurate.  I certainly haven’t seen many people headbanging to Bon Jovi.  And “encouraging bands such as AC/DC to play songs like “Moon River” as a substitute for “Highway to Hell”” really stretches the concept of credible suggestions beyond the limit.

Perhaps they’re taking the mickey?  I don’t mean to mock but saying things like “The top 11 head banging songs chosen by the focus group were all performed by hard rock or heavy metal artists” is obvious even to the meanest intellect. Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious, anyone?  The phrase  “Focus group” made me shudder.

You don’t see kids at nursery throwing the horns and headbanging to Bob The Builder.  You don’t see pensioners throwing the horns and headbanging to Glenn Miller.  I didn’t see anyone throwing horns and headbanging at the John Barrowman at Christmas concert.  I guess you don’t see that at Ronnie Scott’s either.  I didn’t at the Birmingham venue.

This bit really made me laugh

Possible interventions to reduce the risk of injury caused by head banging include limiting the range of neck motion through a formal training programme delivered before a concert

Excuse me? When people go to a rock concert they don’t go there to be preached at, to be told their dancing is wrong.  Interventions?  That sounds very New Labour to me.  There’s a guy outside working on his car.  Will the BMJ advocate “intervention” to tell him about the safe use of tools, correct lifting techniques, correct welding techniques, et cetera?  When I play cricket will the BMJ advocate “intervention” to tell me about the dangers of 70mph cricket balls, correct throwing and fielding techniques.  When people go to football matches will the BMJ advocate “intervention” to tell people about correct techniques for singing and shouting?

As Bill Hicks said

That’s what we want isn’t it, government approved rock n roll? Whooh, we’re partying now!

That seems to be where the BMJ wants us to go:

Substitution of adult oriented rock and easy listening music such as the controls, or others including Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Enya, and Richard Clayderman, for heavy metal

No-one tells me what music I can and can’t listen to.  What do you think this is, East Germany?

The BMJ would do well to present the facts as facts and stop advocating New Labour style Nanny state ideas.

I wish Tom Araya a full recovery from his operation.  I wonder what he would say to the BMJ’s suggestions?

Published inclassic rockhard rockheavy metallack of ClueMusic


  1. softmutt

    Bleedin’ hell……Is nothing safe anymore. I shall wrap myself up & never listen to ANY music again….Just in case I get carried away! ;o)

  2. Scott

    Christmas issues of the BMJ usually include a few spoof / funny articles. I suspect this is one. Always question what you read.

  3. Jamie Jamie

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for dropping by. Part of me was wondering if it was a spoof article. The potential damage caused by overzealous headbanging is something I’ve seen and experienced myself so it is a valid concern. Phoning the cricket team captain that you can’t play because you’ve got headbangers’ neck doesn’t endear you to the club management. But you can’t bat when you’ve given it plenty on the dancefloor the night before.

    AC/DC playing Moon River does take some serious imagining though…

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