“Hit Parader’s Heavy Metal Meltdown”: This short-lived metal-themed magazine-style TV show aired on “Night Flight” in the late 80s

By on October 22, 2016

The late Eighties heavy metal-themed magazine-style TV show Hit Parader’s Heavy Metal Meltdown — hosted by ebullient metalhead and future TV actor Erik Palladino — was a short-lived series that focused exclusively on metal bands in the L.A. club scene. Watch it now Night Flight Plus.

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Hit Parader’s Heavy Metal Meltdown originally aired in the New York City area on WWOR, channel 9, and was picked up by “Night Flight” for re-broadcast during the late 80s.

Jeff Franklin, Cynthia Friedland and Lisa Robinson of “Night Flight” were all involved in the show’s production, in some way (Robinson was the editor of the mainstream music monthly Hit Parader).

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The show attempted to bring the same kind of magazine-style experience to TV that the publication was noted for (even promoting the latest issue on the stands), offering up backstage and in-studio interviews, promo snippets, weekly Gossip and Metal News, a top 5 albums of the week, and a feature interview.

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Hit Parader magazine — which officially launched in 1942 as a monthly publication — was one of the longest-lasting magazines covering the music business, focusing more on what the fans wanted to see rather than offering the kind of content their earliest competitors (like Billboard and Song Hits) were known for.

Based in Derby, Connecticut, where the parent company Charlton Publishing had their offices, the magazine was noted for legally publishing son lyrics, which the publication obtained the rights to do so, making it a very music fan-friendly publication that gave the readers what they wanted. For a time, in the early 60s, they were even known as Teen Hit Parader.

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During the 1970s, they were covering the classic rock acts of the day, and finding heavy competition from glossy rock magazines like Creem and Circus which focused on the same bands, and so they began to additionally cover punk, pop and new wave bands, which didn’t quite expand their readership.

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Longtime editor Andy Secher came aboard in 1979, and his first piece of business to re-focus and prioritize what the publication should be doing was to get the magazine’s editorial staff (and their freelancers) to focus their attention on a whole new breed of hard rock and metal acts, which were just staring to kick in, with the popularity of the British Heavy Metal bands (like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden) and the L.A.-centric bands like Mötley Crüe just beginning to grow their fanbase and sell out their first big headlining tours (not to mention selling lots of records, too).

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Secher had gotten into the music writing business while he was still in college, after he started his own music column, which was later syndicated nationally.

He’d established his name as an authority on hard rock and metal by the time he was put in charge of Hit Parader.

By 1984, Hit Parader had likely reached its peak readership, as heavy metal music had by then achieved high levels of popularity and commercial success, and over the ensuing decade, it became a leading heavy metal publication, providing extensive coverage of the era’s popular acts.

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By 1989, they were ready to expand from publishing to doing a television show, and developed “Hit Parader’s Heavy Metal Meltdown,” hiring then-teenager Erik Palladino to host each episode.

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Palladino was pretty obviously a huge fan of the music, offering his enthusiastic presentations of each interstitial segment of the show with a kind of infectiously-upbeat personality that would certainly impress casting agents later in his career.

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We don’t want to tell you too much about what happens in this episode — labeled #5 but this one appears to be the third episode of the show which aired on the USA Network on July 8, 1989 — because we’d love for you to check it out on your own, but suffice it to say that in this uploaded episode you’ll be invited inside the home of Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe; you’ll get an up close and personal look (“True Story”) at Kip Winger of the band Winger; you’ll see a once-in-a-lifetime performance by the band Kingdom Come; you’ll see an interview and performance with members of Helloween; you’ll get some metal advice from Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi; and, finally, the show provides what it was really like to go on tour with the band Anthrax.

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By the way, just a few years after this series aired, Palladino would appear on MTV as one of their VJ’s, covering the Woodstock ’94 concert for their network in addition to hosting their home shopping series “The Goods.” He also later appeared during the daily late night “Dreamtime” stretch and presented from MTV’s popular summer “Beach House.”

He would expand into comedy (he was a regular on Comedy Central’s news/anthology series “Short Attention Span Theater”) and appeared on lots of TV sitcoms — “Murphy Brown” (1996-1997), “Love and Marriage” (Fox, 1996), “DiResta” (UPN, 1998-1999) — before landing his “breakthrough” role as Dr. David Malucci, a second-year resident, appearing during the 1999-2000 season of the popular NBC drama “ER.”

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Since then he’s had much success (you can catch up on his career over at IMDB), but we prefer to remember Palladino from these episodes of “Heavy Metal Meltdown” from 1989, when his hair was still long and he was passionate about the metal.

Watch Hit Parader’s Heavy Metal Meltdown #5 today on Night Flight Plus, and be sure to check out the 2015 documentary Inside Metal: Pioneers Of L.A. Hard Rock And Metal while you’re at it!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.