For nearly 20 years "Thrashin'" Alan Tuggle has been promoting metal on his radio show Hard Time Radio on KNON. It's a position that has also afforded him opportunities to interview idols of the metal scene from Ronnie James Dio to "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.
He's become a fixture in the local music scene, and he's one of the most important metalheads to come out of North Texas. He's introduced us to metal bands like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall when no one else in the DFW area was playing them on the air. He's a father, a musician and an all around cool dude.
"I don't know if I particularly had a hand in advancing their career," he says, "but when I see all my faithful metalheaded fans out there in the crowd going crazy for a metal band that 10 years ago were relatively unheard of, I can't help but feel a little pride to think that I helped their career in a small way."
Thrashin Alan first fell in love with music when he was 11 years old. His parents started taking him to classic rock concerts at the Tarrant County Convention Center. Watching bands like Foreigner, Journey and Peter Frampton, he was blown away by the powerhouse vocalists. Then he was exposed to KISS in their glory days.
"It was always for me the rush when the lights first went down at the arena show that pulled me in. There was a feeling to me like no other. All of sudden, you didn't know what was next. There was no YouTube. There was no set list. They didn't tell you what they were going to play. You just had no idea until the lights went down. Song for song, everything was a surprise up until the very end. That's pretty much what pulled me in."
In 1982, when Thrashin' Alan was 15 years old, his best friend Tom Payne called and said, "You've got to turn it on MTV right now. There's a band on there called Iron Maiden, and you just got to see them. You're going to freak completely out."
Alan rushed into the living room. "Mom, can I please turn it on MTV for just a minute?"
"Hell no, I'm watching my soaps."
"But Mom, my best friend just called and said I've got to see this band on MTV," he replied. "Please, let me turn it."
She agreed, and he flipped through the channels. Iron Maiden was playing "Run To The Hills." Dressed in black leather, wristbands covered in spikes and leather gloves like a biker, Bruce Dickinson took the powerhouse vocals of Steve Perry (Journey) and Lou Gramm (Foreigner) to a level that some would say was borderline divine.
"I was like, 'Oh my god, this is for me,'" Thrashin' Alan says.
Once he heard Judas Priest's "Singing for Vengeance" and Scorpion's Blackout, Thrashin' Alan was sucked in. He soon discovered bands like Kreator, Metallica and Slayer, and there was no turning back.
In the mid-'80s, Thrashin' Alan started going to watch metal shows at The Tombstone Factory, which is where he first got his dose of thrash metal. Jerry Warden, who ran the place, would always have to leave early on Saturday nights to run his local metal show on KNON.
"I thought he had the coolest position at the time," he says, "and I knew I wanted to somehow be involved with the metal music business."
Thrashin' Alan had always wanted to be a drummer, but his parents couldn't afford to buy him a drum kit. So he began helping a few local bands, and then one night, he was hanging out in the parking lot of Joe's Garage, a local metal bar, when a friend challenged him to sing a Slayer tune.
"Damn, are you in a band?" his friend asked when he finished.
"No, man, but I'd really love to be."
Ever since 1990, Thrashin' Alan has been in and out of local bands. He did a stint with Nuclear Winter and played at the Tattoo Bar, and now plays for Violent Intentions, a band that mostly plays extreme covers from Pantera to Selputra.
In 1990, Thrashin' Alan saw a commercial on TV for a school that taught music and vdieo business. So he enrolled in the program and landed a promotions assistant internship at 99.1 Z-Rock, a metal radio station that needs to return to the DFW area. And it was while working as an intern that Thrashin' Alan received a call that would change his life forever.
The late great Ronnie James Dio was phoning in for an interview and Thrashin' Alan's boss didn't have anyone to take the call. "Look, I know everything there is to know about Ronnie James Dio," he told him. "Let me do this interview." It took some begging, but his boss finally agreed.
"And through that interview from that point on, I was able to establish a friendship with somebody that I looked up to more than anybody else in the damn business," he says. "It was a incredible opportunity."
His boss was impressed and finally cut him loose on the air. Thrashin' Alan was given a one hour a week local metal show on Sunday nights from midnight to 1 a.m. He did such a good job that he was promoted to music director at Z-Rock., and began building a network of friends and sources for his radio show that was later moved to Wednesday nights. He also started earning the respect of some of the biggest bands in the music industry.
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In 1995, his dream job soon came to an end when Z-Rock disappeared from the airwaves. But luckily for Thrashin' Alan, Dave Chaos, station manager at KNON, spoke to his board of directors and offered him a job in a primetime slot from 9 to 10 p.m., which eventually extended to 12 a.m., and Hard Time Radio was born.
Thrashin' Alan, along with his cohost Slammin' Jay, continues to promote metal and the local scene on his show. He's constantly looking for good metal bands to introduce to his listeners. Some of the bands in the DFW area he's been watching lately include Dead Rising, Demonseed, Prophecy, Volume Dealer and many others.
"Man, I look for raw power," he says. "I look for a good recording. I look for somebody who cares, and I'm still looking for a vocalist whether it's death metal, black metal or old school rock 'n' roll. I'm looking for stuff that people put their heart into, not just somebody who's barely singing. I want somebody where I get the feeling, 'These people really care about their band.'"