Early heavy metal fans grew up, and a new study shows they're doing better than their peers.

Heavy metal made its loud, raucous debut in the 1970s, scaring the crap out of some people, especially parents.

With bold guitars, brash lyrics, and demonic imagery, heavy metal was completely different from mainstream rock music.


Alice Cooper is here and his snake is hungry for innocent children. Photo by Keystone/Getty Images.

As with any major shift in popular music, heavy metal was adored by teens and feared by their parents. Concern was abundant, especially after studies in the 1980s suggested young metal fans were at risk for poor developmental outcomes.

But no one bothered to see what happened to "metalheads" when they grew up — until now.

Photo by Carsten Rehder/AFP/Getty Images.

Researchers from Humboldt State University conducted surveys with 377 people, including 154 who self-identified as metal fans, groupies, or musicians in the 1980s, to see how life turned out for former headbangers.

Turns out, much of that worry and fear was misplaced.

When it comes to satisfaction with life, apparently metal musicians and fans have a leg up on their peers.

Looking back on their youth, metal fans reported being significantly happier than their peers.

Photo by Patrick Lux/Getty Images.

They were also less likely to live with regrets.

While metal fans and musicians were more likely to engage in risky behavior (think sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll), they were also less likely to regret the experiences of their youth, with around 33% reporting having regrets, compared to 51% of non-metal fans.

Metal fans scored high in terms of identity development and community building in adulthood, too.

Photo by Carsten Rehder/AFP/Getty Images.

Research findings suggest metal fans felt a kinship within the metal community. These familial connections contributed to a strong sense of self and may have insulated them from the problems many young people face during adolescence, like low self-esteem.

While the results are in, there's plenty more to study, especially when it comes to music fans of color.

Though they were dismissed by mainstream society, 1980s metal fans were still predominately white. The authors of the study suggest an additional exploration of hip-hop fans, who don't necessarily have the benefit of white privilege.

Photo by Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images.

"Youth of color have to not only struggle with their own personal search for self, but they must cope with the knowledge that they will never be truly accepted by the larger culture in which they live," the authors of the study said.

But for now, proceed to rock and roll all night.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

And while you're at it, party every day. After all, it could be good for your health.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Jeff Bridges photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikicommons

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Taking on chemotherapy is no easy task. Pile that onto losing smell, restricted breathing, and medical isolation, and anyone would want to throw in the towel. But for the ever optimistic Bridges, dealing with two health crises simultaneously became a beautiful life lesson, which he shared in a handwritten letter found on his website.


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