By Bob Nalbandian


I remember the very first day I met Michelle. I believe it was the summer of 1982; I was in my late teens working behind the counter at a Carls Jr. restaurant in Huntington Beach, CA and in walks my friend Pat Crane with a small group of metalheads (or "rockers" as they were called back then). Amongst them was this incredibly sexy young girl sporting red spandex pants, black boots and a denim vest jacket with a giant Judas Priest logo on the back. My eyes popped out the back of my head! "Whoa! Judas Priest!" I exclaimed. You have to remember Judas Priest were still fairly underground at this time in Orange County and for a girl, let alone a smoking-hot 14-year-old girl, to be wearing a denim vest with a Judas Priest iron-on patch was unheard of in my home town. Pat kindly makes the introduction, "this is Michelle, she recently moved to HB from Detroit."

From that moment on we started hanging out, checking out all the great metal bands that were performing the Orange County clubs at the time. I had the fortunate pleasure of taking Michelle to her very first metal shows. We went to the Woodstock in Anaheim and The Concert Factory in Costa Mesa to see then unsigned local metal icons Slayer, Armored Saint and Malice. I remember driving to the Country Club in Reseda with Michelle to catch Raven and Metallica on the Kill 'Em All For One tour. We had an absolute blast together at these shows. Michelle was one of the truest metal fans I had ever met; she totally lived for the music and loved nothing more than to support the then-local bands that were paying their hard-earned dues. It's hard to believe that was 25 years ago although it seems as if it was only yesterday.

Michelle and I had very similar tastes in metal music, which was very rare. Michelle loved the attitude and ferociousness of what was soon to be coined as "thrash" metal. But moreover Michelle had this incredible sense of melody and was just as huge a fan of melodic metal bands as she was the thrash bands which, back then, was a barrier most metal fans and/or musicians wouldn't dare cross. I remember making Michelle several mix tapes of some of may favorite underground metal bands at the time, from NWOBHM greats like Motorhead, Maiden, Raven, Saxon, Tygers, Girlschool, Samson, and Diamond Head to Canadian bands Exciter and Anvil as well as the latest underground Euro-metal bands from Germany, Holland, France and Sweden. Demos and independent recordings from Accept, Mercyful Fate, Trust, Warning, Bodine, Killer, Picture, Silver Mountain...in fact I remember one band I included on a mix tape that Michelle particularly loved, which surprised me seeing that it was the most melodic band out of the bunch. It was from a virtually unknown Swedish rock band at the time called Europe. And who would have thought several years later Michelle would marry Europe guitarist John Norum? But that was just like Michelle, if she liked something, she went for it!