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The Heavy Metal Hall of Fame returned to Anaheim, California on January 15th, 2020 for its Annual Heavy Metal History Hall of Fame Awards Gala. This year, inductees included Steve Vai, Geoff Tate, Don Dokken, Stephen Pearcy, Graham Bonnet, Joe Satriani, Chris Poland, Prong, Metal Church along with legendary metal promoter Stone City Attractions.  I got the opportunity to cover this prestigious event and even though this scene isn’t completely up my alley,  I figured this one would be fun.  When I found out Steve Vai and Joe Satriani were inducting each other into the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame, my decision became an immediate "no-brainer" as this was quickly shaping up to be a once in a lifetime experience. Boy, was I right!

The event kicked off at 5:15 PM with the red-carpet ceremony and cocktail hour. Industry professionals, musicians, and respective entourages piled into the Marriott Delta for the night’s festivities. In the hotel’s courtyard and patio area, a secondary stage area was set up with cocktail tables and a fully stocked bar. Bands performed throughout the night out there giving event goers the option of an outdoor show feel that’s reminiscent of some of the backyard house shows I went to back in my high school days. The ballroom was set up with a main stage, two fully stocked bars, and round tables providing ample seating. Sirius XM's very own Eddie Trunk was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

The induction ceremony ensued with speeches from industry professionals and past inductees. A touching moment worth mentioning was when the rowdy room dropped into a few moments of silence to honor Rush's Neil Peart, who passed away about a week earlier on January 7th, 2020. The event was a roller coaster as it also had some insane high energy moments; one being when we were treated with a surprise performance where Geoff Tate, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Pat Gesualdo, and Chris Poland teamed up to play a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”. What was a civilized seated awards gala quickly turned into a standing floor concert as attendees made their way to the stage to get a close up look at this act. There were a few other performances as well, with my personal favorite performance of the night being Dark Sky Choir.

All in all, the Heavy Metal History Awards Gala was a blast. Legends were honored and and the performances by some of the industry’s best bands were off the chain. It’s important to note that the Metal Hall of Fame is a part of the non-profit organization D.A.D. (Drums and Disabilities) so the whole event was for a good cause. I’m excited to see how this event and this non-profit evolves over the years.

Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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