By: Donnie Hardin
In 1986 my older brother Kenny had taken me to my first real concert at the age of nine to see Ozzy Osbourne at the old Cardinal Stadium. A young band of dirty haired, ripped jean wearing, greasy-haired thrashers called Metallica, unknown to me, opened the show. Cliff Burton would die in a tragic accident a couple of months later.
By the time 1993 rolled around I was a teenage headbanger, while proudly toting my beloved Walkman cassette player to school, getting geared up for the day with the sounds of Metallica, Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Anthrax, Megadeth, and a selective assortment of others, I was hungry for more.
There was nothing quite as awesome as brand new 10-pack of shiny, blank cassette tapes. When you ripped off the packaging they had a unique smell. Brand new plastic. Untouched. By the radio we would sit patiently waiting for that one song, but it would only be hard rock at best, like Guns-N-Roses, Skid Row, or Whitesnake. There were no metal tunes on rotation. (Not until Metallica released ‘One’ off ‘…And Justice For All’ in 1989. But never would you hear Slayer, Pantera, Testament, Sepultura, Suicidal Tendencies, Metal Church, or any of the heavier bands. You had to first read about new releases in Metal Edge or Hit Parader magazines, which were expensive, or be lucky enough to have an older brother who had friends with jobs and played in bands. But it was all spread about, for me anyway.
On August 8, 1993, that would ALL change when our local rock radio station, The Fox, had hired a disc jockey by the name of ‘BLACK FRANK’, and gave him a show originally called ‘The Metal Pit’, later renamed ‘The Attitude Network’, complete with eerie background sounds such as grinding metal, power saws, and spooky, cool noises behind this seriously incredible radio voice. This guy knew his shit too. he wasn’t playing songs off of a list passed down from some geek in a suit and tie somewhere high up the corporate food-chain at Clear Channel Productions.
It was Frank’s list, metal news, release dates, tour dates, and various metal happenings worldwide, scrawled out on a legal pad. I would sit in my bedroom with a fresh cassette tape every week waiting for midnight to strike because he would likely play something by a band I had never heard of, that I would love, like Machine Head, Biohazard, Skinlab, Corrosion of Conformity, Downset, Korn, Voivod, Fear Factory, on and on.
Frank Webb aka Black Frank (I wouldn’t know his real name for about twenty years later)… He had the perfect voice for any radio station covering any genre in the country, and we, the hard-edged thrashers, slammers, fist pumping armies of the 502, 270, and 812 area codes, we were the lucky ones because he was one of the biggest reasons, if not THE biggest reason amazing national acts started coming out of the woodwork to play Louisville Gardens, The Brewery Thunderdome, or The Palace Theater, shaking up our previously tame and humble river city, inspiring would be musicians as an unstoppable collective, eventually kicking ass with our own brand of metal, as the incredible local scene would take hold in the mid-to-late 1990’s, producing nationally relevant acts such as My Own Victim, Primer 55, and Flaw along with local titans Faceplant, Incursion, Shapeless Matrix, Luther, Factor 9, Engrind, and so many more. more, all of which FRANK WEBB promoted, pushed, pimped out, and believed in as much as anyone could have.
I have heard many of my peers talk about the old days, before we all had the luxury of Google, You Tube, when Black Frank could be counted on every single week to play some groundbreaking metal. Then when we started making the metal ourselves, he enabled us, whether you were Dimebag Darrell or unknown me, he would, and continues to carry on a great conversation with anyone whether they are a rock star or unsigned drummer of a garage band in the south end.
I ramble, but I ramble for a good reason.
Thank you FRANK WEBB for your service to this very fortunate metal music community. You may not have been born in Louisville, but you are LOUISVILLE’S BLACK FRANK.
It is about time that Frank Webb hits the airwaves again.