The loudest bands in history: 10 deafening acts (2023)

Em 1975,MotörheadSinger Lemmy famously joked that the band "will be so loud your lawn will die if we move in next to you". He said this at a time when bands were vying to be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest group - and without a doubt, Motörhead have always been among the loudest bands in the world.

Now, of course, there is more knowledge about the dangers of concert-goers having their nerve endings destroyed, and Guinness has since dropped the category. However, you still know the loudest drummer in the world: In 2006, Col Hatchman picked up 137.2 decibels while playing the drums at a concert in Australia. His record was about 50 decibels above the noise level at which there is a risk of permanent hearing damage.

Here's our guide to the musicians who broke the sound barriers to be hailed as the loudest bands in history.

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Bob Dylan and the Hawks (1966)

Extremely loud concerts are usually associated with rock and heavy metal bands - the Newport Folk and Jazz Festival has volume restrictions on their stages - but when folk starsBob DylanTouring Europe in 1966, he was looking for a louder sound for his new electronic band. He hired Richard Alderson to build a new live sound system.

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Alderson, who had already built one for Harry Belafonte, said that building Dylan's own system was necessary because most theaters at the time simply weren't equipped for a highly amplified band. "I was a hi-fi purist when it came to sound," said Alderson, who was on hand when Dylan told his band to "play really loud" while angry fans booed his electric music. While Dylan's decibel levels have not been measured, his initiative marks a step towards louder concerts.

Led Zeppelin (1969)

Scientists have shown that loud music can release endorphins, soLED-ZeppelinFans were probably happy when the band started cranking up the volume in the late '60s. After releasing their first two albums, the group toured Canada in 1969 (where one music critic described them as "an earthquake of sound"). , this year the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recorded a volume of 130 decibels during a performance of the song "Heartbreaker". Tour manager Richard Cole said the band does not seek advertising for sound levels. He recalls that in March 1970 a decibel meter was stolen from a Vancouver city government employee before it broke.

Deep Purple (1972)

To reach your loud tone,Dunkellilabought a 10,000 watt Marshall PA system. One show was so loud that three people standing near the speakers were knocked unconscious. In 1972, the Guinness Book of World Records crowned Deep Purple the loudest band in the world after recording 117 decibels at London's Rainbow Theatre. Drummer Ian Paice said: "Rock 'n' roll has reached another level. The volume has increased incredibly.”

Wer (1976)

A WHONoise's claim to fame is something of a cautionary tale, too. On May 31, 1976, 75,000 people packed Charlton Athletic's football ground in London to see a line-up that included Lowell George and Little Feat. Headlining were The Who and their output was measured at 126 decibels on a rainy night - and that was 30 meters from the speakers. The Who set a world record that lasted eight years. Too bad for the band membersPeter TownsendeRoger Daltrey, for years being one of the loudest bands in the world has left them with severe hearing problems. Daltrey, who admits he is "very deaf" now, said: "If only we had known that when we were young." Townshend later helped establish the charity HEAR (Hearing Education And Awareness For Rockers).

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Manowar (1984)

The search for the loudest bands to outdo each other was satirized in the musical mockumentaryThis is a lumbar puncture— in a scene where the group's amps were calibrated to 11 instead of 10 so they could "go one up" — but New York heavy metal band Manowar used the technology to raise the bar. The band had a technical "rider" contract that specified a minimum sound pressure level of 126 decibels for their sound systems. In 1984 in Hanover, Germany, they broke The Who's record when two sound experts measured them at 129.5 decibels. They used 10 tons of amplifiers and speakers that were 40 feet long and 21 feet high. At a sound check in 2008, they reached 139 decibels. The band's website proudly proclaims their "deafening" power.

Motorhead (1986)

The Variety Theater in Cleveland was a Spanish Gothic-style venue designed by architect Nicola Petti. The beautiful venue was no match for Lemmy and what he described as Motörhead's "loud, fast, smashing, speed-crazed rock 'n' roll." When the band played there in December 1984, they were measured at 130 decibels. The music was so loud that the ceiling cracked from the vibrations and plaster fell on the crowd. The power had to be cut to prevent the band from continuing to play.

left field (1996)

Motörhead aren't the only band rocking a venue. In June 1996, British electronic music group Leftfield experienced a bass hum reportedly measured at 137 decibels while performing at London's Brixton Academy. Scraps of cleaning and dust fell on the audience and the show went down in music history. Four years later the band was allowed to play again – with the volume turned down. Leftfield keyboardist Neil Barnes later said, "I don't want to tear the plaster down again, it's a beautiful building...if we lost the land, we could tear the building down. It would be like the last scene in Carrie when she finally dissolves the whole school from the inside."

KISS (2009)

judas the priest,The Iron Woman,Metallica,Megadeth,and ZZ Top are among many other bands known for their raucous concerts, but even they were outdone by British punk band The Gallows, who locked themselves in a studio in 2007 and are said to have cranked it up to 132.5 decibels. There were even claims that Swedish band Sleazy Joe got 143.2 in Hassleholm in 2008. A year later, in July 2009, officials from Ottawa's state agency, the National Capital Commission, were concerned about the potential noise levels in aKISSBluesfest show they had investigators on site. When the band hit 136 decibels, officers ordered the sound engineer to turn the volume down. That same year, Irish rockers My Bloody Valentine began handing out disposable earplugs at their concerts.

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Foo Fighters (2011)

No band can compete with the fictional group Douglas Adams created for his bookThe restaurant at the end of the universe: Disaster Area is a band whose concerts can devastate entire planets. However, when the Foo Fighters played at Western Springs Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand in 2011, they moved the earth. The impact of its bass frequencies combined with the fans bouncing up and down made the floor shake in a rhythmic motion three times per second. The signal, similar to a volcanic tremor, registered 3 Hz on seismic gauges at Herne Bay and Eden Park.

AC/DC (2015)

Maybe there's something about Western Springs that makes you want to be overly loud. AC/DC have long been one of the loudest bands in the world, and when they played Auckland in 2015 they sparked a row over noise pollution. The concert by the Australian musicians can be heard in Birkenhead's Waitematā Harbor six kilometers away. The band was measured at 103 decibels and their music set off several car alarms outside the venue.

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