Rob Zombie has been to a few awards shows. He's handed out statues and picked up some of his own. As he stood on the black carpet outside last month's taping of the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in Los Angeles (the show airs tomorrow at 10 p.m. on VH1 Classic), Zombie was about to present his shock-rock hero Alice Cooper another lifetime achievement award, only weeks after inducting him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"This feels a little more comfortable," Zombie told Rolling Stone of the crowded metal scene waiting to enter the show. "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is more surreal because . . . you look out and in the front row you see Elton John, Leon Russell, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen. It's a little weird. I don't think they're here tonight."
Not likely. The third annual Golden Gods gathered a motley group of hard-rockers, from Avenged Sevenfold and David Coverdale to Duff McKagan and singer-actress Taylor Momsen. Dave Grohl began the April 20 taping at Club Nokia by walking onstage just long enough to leave a boombox blasting Justin Bieber's squeaky "Baby," until host Chris Jericho smashed it into silence.
"I don't know what metal is anymore. I don't think we're it," said McKagan (Guns 'N Roses, Velvet Revolver), whose band Loaded performed with Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and singer Corey Taylor of Slipknot for a cover of Judas Priest's "Electric Eye." "Classic metal to me is Judas Priest and the first Iron Maiden record. Loaded plays a lot of European festivals, and we see a lot of [extreme metal]. Compared to that we're a little pop band."
Mötley Crüe received the first Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award – named for the late metal vocalist, whose final public appearance was at last year's ceremony. "It really means a lot to me because Ronnie was one of the biggest influences on my life since I was a fucking kid," said Crüe singer Vince Neil. "Heaven and Hell was with us last summer in Europe, and every single night I watched, going, 'Where does that voice come from?'"
For this weekend's premiere broadcast, the concert was edited down to an hour of "highlights" (including commercials), transforming a hard-rocking night into something less. Live in the room, the Golden Gods was a concert with annoying interruptions from the podium. On TV, it's more podium and a lot less metal.
Some great moments from the live show did survive. Cooper's quick but intense four-song set was an early peak, though edited down to a single song, "School's Out." Later, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian joined Volbeat for a heavy-duty take on the Dusty Springfield pop classic "I Only Want to Be With You," and drummer Vinnie Paul sat in with Avenged Sevenfold to close the night with a raging take on Pantera's "Mouth for War," the only part of the band's seven-song set to make the final edit. Other performances were cut completely, including an ear-mangling metal tribute to punk-rock icons Black Flag.
Receiving a special award for "Honorary Headbanger" was actor William Shatner, now finishing up his first "metal" album, Searching For Major Tom, with guest guitarists Zakk Wylde, Peter Frampton and Wayne Kramer of the MC5. "I've opened myself up to a form of music I disdained before," Shatner said outside the theater. Onstage an hour later, Shatner accepted the statue with a genuine cry of headbanging joy: "Fuckin' gnarly!"