Living in these social media/short-attention-span times, unless you were old enough to actually remember The 80s before technology took over and sped the world up, it’s difficult to imagine anyone waiting longer than two minutes for anything. But in the Fall of 1984, when heavy metal headliners Quiet Riot teamed with MTV to deliver the most outrageous holiday contest ever conceived of, no one even thought twice of waiting to find out who would win it. In fact it was talked about for almost two months before an actual winner was picked:
A guy I knew who operated a small recording studio and independent metal label out of his parent’s basement, who I’ll call “Dean”, was suspiciously over confident that he’d be the winner. The 18-year old High School senior had sent in something like 200 postcards and bragged about how “someone at Metal Blade Records” was putting “a word in” at MTV for him.
A lot of people I knew at the time were also looking forward to this party, so much so that a lot of them had already canceled plans with their families, thinking that Dean winning this thing was in the bag. Me, I just knew that there was no way in hell MTV was going to throw an alcohol-infused Christmas Party with a metal band at an 18-year old guy’s house with his under-aged friends hanging out. Connections might help you get around the laws in Los Angeles or even in Seattle. But in Portland, Oregon’s up-tight Catholic neighborhoods there was no way it was going to happen. Hell, no…literally.
Two weeks prior to MTV announcing the winner, I saw two girls from the neighborhood who I didn’t like go into Frederick’s of Hollywood in the mall, no doubt shopping for even sluttier outfits than they usually wore…which, trust me, is really saying something. I later learned that one of the girls had stolen her mom’s boyfriend’s credit card and racked up a $600 bill ($1400.00 today) buying herself and her friend enticing outfits to wear to the “Quiet Riot Party at Dean’s house” and, subsequently winning themselves the Asses of The Year Award, too, because Dean –as predicted– didn’t win the contest even with his “connections”.
The winner of MTV’s Metal Christmas with Quiet Riot was 23-year old metal head and bass player, Dru Rigney, from Santa Ana, CA.
“I had entered the contest a few weeks before and they called me and told me I had won,” Rigney, now a respiratory therapist with a trauma unit, explains in an interview over Facebook. “I invited about 50 guests -plus as many neighbors as I could so there wouldn’t be any problems.”
As a metal musician himself, having Quiet Riot spend Christmas day at his house was the perfect choice. In fact it couldn’t have gone over better. Rigney, his friends and Quiet Riot melded as if they’d known each other a long time.
“The band showed up in a limo at around 11 AM and stayed until around 10PM, ” Rigney says. “We had full catered Christmas dinner and an open bar. We drank and played pool and hung out. Franki Banalli (Quiet Riot’s drummer) saw our equipment stored in the garage while we were playing pool, and said, if we set it up, they would play.”
Rigney and his friends, including his own band, spent Christmas day and the next partying until the sun came up.
“After Quiet Riot left, my band took the party to the warehouse we rented at the time (for rehearsal space) and kept the party going until, like, 5 AM.”
When asked if his memories of this ultimate 80s experience were as cool as it sounds, what Rigney says is exactly what one would expect.
“It was definitely fun. No Christmas has ever been the same.”