It’s hard to believe nowadays, but there was a pre-internet time when living in Mexico meant that it was hard to see your favorite international hard rock bands. Before OCESA and cable television, getting a glimpse of long-haired rockstars was pretty difficult.
Thanks to Avandaro, a 1971 festival with reputation for being a violent, drug-fueled bacchanalia attended by smelly hippies, people who could afford to bring bands over didn’t want acts who could (allegedly) incite riots and lewd, amoral behaviour. The authorities made it even harder by enforcing laws about live entertainment. Not that the 70s and the 80s were completely devoid of concerts – big icons like The Doors, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Sun Ra, The Police, Sepultura and Queen, among others, played in Mexico City and other cities with no problem.
When OCESA finally started bringing big acts to big venues, it was easier (though still not that common) to catch a song or an interview on national television. In the 80s, though, it was nothing short of miraculous, especially if you liked metal or anything outside the norm. Still, some acts got to parade in front of local TV cameras, probably because an MTV-savvy exec working at Televisa sensed it could bring some young viewers interested in something a little heavier than Timbiriche.
Here are some we culled from the YouTube vaults, presented in all their dubbed Betamax glory.
Kiss / Imevisión / TV Azteca / 1981
It didn’t matter that the hottest band in the world was not as hot anymore, or that their painted face days were almost over, or that the drummer they recorded this song with was no longer in the band, or that the song in question was two years and three albums old. Somehow, the TV people convinced Kiss to lip sync to their disco-flavored hit “I Was Made For Loving You.” Watch out for the huge stadium crowds edited into the studio performance.
Quiet Riot / XETU / Televisa / 1984
People tend to forget that it wasn’t Mötley Crüe or Poison who kicked the door wide open for the hair variety of metal to take over MTV in the 80s (after Van Halen made their initial splash). It was Quiet Riot, with their cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize.” It makes sense that such a popular band could draw attention, which is why they got invited to pretend-play their instruments for three of their songs on Televisa. People packed the studio where it was filmed.
David Lee Roth / Siempre En Domingo / Televisa / 1985
Speaking of Van Halen, their former frontman probably makes for the highest-profile footage on this list. Siempre En Domingo, for those too young to remember, was the most widely watched entertainment show in all of Latin America, it lasted for several hours and featured a Who’s Who of popular music. Being introduced by host Raúl Velasco could literally make or break you. Here, you can see Diamond Dave bust out his worst lip-syncing moves for his cover of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” flying kicks and all.
Dee Snider of Twisted Sister interview / Alta Tensión / Televisa / 1986
It would be fun as hell to show you a clip of the band playing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in full drag regalia for a morning show crowd, but alas that never happened. This is just an interview during singer Snider’s visit to Mexico. He talks about his influences and his interest in playing in Mexico, which wouldn’t actually happen until 2004, when they played Monterrey Metal Fest.
Death / Música Sin Fronteras, ECO / Televisa / 1991
The heaviest band of the bunch makes for a fairly bizarre entry. The seminal death metal band made an appearance on Televisa’s version of CNN at 3:00 am before (or after, couldn’t find the exact date this aired) their headlining gig at a wrestling arena in the outskirts of the city. I doubt Chuck Schuldiner ever thought he would some day growl over blastbeats on the set of a news network. Only in Mexico.