The 20 Most Metal Names in Rock

With a name like Yngwie Malmsteen, he wasn't going to be an accountant.
With a name like Yngwie Malmsteen, he wasn't going to be an accountant.
PolyGram Records

So you want to be a heavy-metal star? You’re going to need more than a sweet Flying V, arena-crumbling anthems and a decent pair of leather pants. It also helps if you have a “metal-sounding” name, preferably something that sounds vaguely European, larger-than-life and/or sinister.

Some of these 20 metal maestros lucked into their names by birth; others carefully chose a moniker to match their new metalhead identity. But however they came about their handles, it's almost physically impossible to shout their name at a concert without an accompanying fist pump or flash of the devil horns. These are the 20 most metal names in music.

Udo Dirkschneider: still ballin' after all these years
Udo Dirkschneider: still ballin' after all these years
By Andreas Lawen, Fotandi via Wikimedia Commons

Udo Dirkschneider, former Accept singer
Most metal moment: His slithery howling on Accept’s 1983 metal classic “Balls to the Wall.”

Nicko McBrain, Iron Maiden drummer
Most metal moment: In 2003 while on tour with Iron Maiden, McBrain was arrested in Wantagh, New York, for allegedly driving his Jaguar into a Jones Beach Theater parking lot attendant on purpose, after the attendant asked to see his VIP credentials a second time.

Lars Ulrich, Metallica drummer
Most metal achievements: The monumental Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets troika.

Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue bassist
Most metal moment: On Dec. 23, 1987, Sixx overdosed on heroin and was pronounced dead before being revived with two shots of adrenaline. After shaking loose from his medical help, he bummed a ride home and shot up again, then wrote a hit song about the experience, "Kickstart My Heart." (Honorable mention: Answering a journalist's question during a 1984 backstage interview by banging Crue drummer Tommy Lee's head into a table.)

Bobby Blotzer, Ratt drummer
Most metal moment: An incident involving Ozzy Osbourne, a shoe and the utilization of footwear in a manner for which it was never intended.

Yngwie Malmsteen, guitarist and solo artist
Most metal achievement: Melding his love of Deep Purple’s ’70s thud and Niccolo Paganini’s ornate 19th-century compositions to create neoclassical metal … also, surviving a 1987 coma-causing, arm-paralyzing car wreck to create the classic shred-fest Odyssey.

Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath singer and solo artist
Most metal moments: So many to choose from, but probably a three-way tie between: biting the head off of a real bat (which Ozzy thought was a fake, rubber bat) an audience member threw onstage during a 1982 Des Moines, Iowa, concert; biting the head off a live dove (which an intoxicated Ozzy totally knew was real) during a 1981 meeting with Columbia Records execs; and urinating on a monument at the Alamo in 1982.

Lemmy Kilmister, late Motorhead bassist/singer
Most metal achievement: 40 years of speed, Jack Daniels and groupie-devouring badassery, not to mention stockpiling an impressive Nazi memorabilia collection.

Gar Samuelson, late ex-Megadeth drummer
Most metal achievement: The brutal, jazz-dropped-off-a-skyscraper rhythms on Megadeth’s first two LPs, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! and Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?

Carlos Cavazo, ex–Quiet Riot, Ratt guitarist
Most metal achievement: Faced with the daunting task of following Randy Rhoads as Quiet Riot’s guitarist, Cavazo played on the Los Angeles band’s breakthrough 1983 LP, Metal Health, the first heavy-metal album ever to top the Billboard 200 album chart. He even co-wrote several songs on the disc, including the hit title track.

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