Heavy Metal Mania only ran on MTV for about a year starting in 1985–two years before the Headbangers Ball gave us a reason to stay in on Saturday night. At first, Heavy Metal Mania ran weekly on Thursday nights, before moving to a monthly format in 1986. It's well known MTV wasn't really down with heavy metal during this time period and Bob Pittman, the network's CEO, said MTV would be distancing itself from any band they classified as having only "heavy metal appeal." The show's host, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, had recently spent time in court providing his now historic testimony in front of the United States Senate’s Committee on Commerce in a congressional hearing on “record labeling” along with the newly-formed Parents Music Resource Council (PMRC), defending Twisted Sister's song "We're Not Gonna Take It." The PMRC had targeted the song as well as fourteen other tunes they categorized as the "Filthy Fifteen" and Snider wasn't having it. The reason I'm reiterating this piece of heavy metal hero history is to help you understand how important Snider's efforts were. Despite MTV's lack of support for metal, he still helped make Heavy Metal Mania a thing, ultimately paving the way for the Headbanger's Ball.
Snider didn't always host Heavy Metal Mania, and occasionally other metalheads would guest-host, like Vinny Vincent and Dana Strum from the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, and Vincent's former Kiss bandmate Paul Stanley, who hosted the show from his NY apartment. But in general, it was all Dee. And this was fine as Snider was and is super entertaining, and expertly interjected humor into the show, like during interviews which he would sometimes hold in a gym (Snider is quite the fitness enthusiast), or a smokey bathroom to chat with Mötley Crüe. Get it? Anyone who was anyone in metal appeared on the show including Snider's long-time friend, Lemmy Kilmister. A supporter of Twister Sister early on, Lemmy appeared on the show around Christmas in 1985. Motörhead had just completed a month-long tour of the U.S. which concluded at The Ritz in New York City, after which Lemmy hung out at Snider's place in NY for Christmas. Awww.
Below you'll see footage from Heavy Metal Mania including a fucking hilarious clip of Bruce Dickinson trying to sell a vinyl copy of Iron Maiden's 1985 record Live After Death on the streets of New York City, so he could "go home to England." Also included is a pretty magical moment with Metallica shot four months before the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton.