Hard Rock Heroes was a hard rock TV show that used to air in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on cable access station VPW on channel 11. The host was Beau Hajavitch. The show aired every two weeks from November 22, 1990 to August 27, 1993, and in it's last year and a half, had settled comfortably into the time slot of every second Friday night at 11:30 p.m. The show was only seen in homes of Winnipeg cable subscribers that lived west of the Red River, as it is the Red River that divides Winnipeg's two cable companies, much like it divides the states of North Dakota and Minnesota. Subscribers of the other cable company east of the Red River had no access to the show as that company signed off their cable access station at 11:00 p.m. (Most shows prior to 11:00 p.m. were simulcast by both cable companies.)
Hard Rock Heroes was a treat for those who appreciated tuning in to the world of rock with an added sense of attitude, awareness, and savvy towards both the rock idiom and the world around it. Not content to just play songs from records (with crazy stuff happening on the screen), Beau soon decided to explore the hard rock world of Winnipeg around him, but with an added sense of knowledge and flair. While other cable shows covered alternative and R & B music, Beau Hajavitch took the thankless job of attempting to match the reckless abandonment and x-rated world of hard rock with the g-rated world of Winnipeg public access television. And with no editing allowed, too!
Indeed, what Jay Leno or Dennis Miller were and are to celebrity-oriented talk shows, Beau Hajavitch and Hard Rock Heroes were to the world of Winnipeg hard rock. In lieu of even the mildest profanity, nudity, and casual attitudes toward drinking, smoking, drug use, and staying up until 4:00 a.m. playing and living the rock and roll lifestyle (all of which was frowned upon by VPW censors), Beau was able to downplay all of these things with his unique, if not really hip, style and take on the events and occurrences of what the hard rock world did and represented musically, both in Winnipeg and throughout the United States and Canada, during the years Hard Rock Heroes was telecast. This, coupled with Beau's attention to detail when it came to what bands and music to play (more on that later) immediately turned Beau Hajavitch into an object of fan adulation in certain circles the likes of which has never been seen before in Winnipeg.
While rock radio DJs and TV entertainment reporters came through the back door at Winnipeg nightclubs to hang out for free, and also mingled only with themselves and their friends in certain parts of the bar (with no one bothering to attempt to talk to them), Beau was content to continue to go through the front door, pay the cover charge, and mingle with Winnipeg's everyman. Those everymen, when discovering the host of Hard Rock Heroes was in the bar that night, would become ecststic and scream out to him, "You're my hero!" They loved the fact they could hear music on Hard Rock Heroes by the likes of Firehouse, Tuff, Pretty Boy Floyd, or local bands like Specula Black and Shanghai Slash that Winnipeg rock radio stations refused to provide. They enjoyed talking to Beau and giving him requests to play on the show, knowing that he could play them; unlike radio DJs, he wasn't henpecked by some lousy boss' playlist. Beau Hajavitch could play whatever he wanted. Due to the day and time the show aired (Every second Friday at 11:30 p.m.), this was not a constant occurance (Beau Hajavitch was no David Cassidy) but it definitely happened enough. Beau Hajavitch had become a bonafide Winnipeg celebrity!
We have discussed Beau Hajavitch and the sheer brilliance he brought to Hard Rock Heroes. But now, what of the content of the show? Well, as mentioned above, the main element and backdrop of Hard Rock Heroes was not videos, but rather just songs from records (from record reps and Beau's own collection) with VPW technicians administering crazy images to the visual aspect, supplemented by videos of traffic on Winnipeg streets. The reason for this is because Beau Hajavitch wanted to showcase the album tracks on an average hard rock release, the songs that don't get played on the radio. Of course, Beau was also interested in playing hard rock bands that didn't get exposure on so-called Winnipeg rock radio stations, either. For those bands and albums, he might play the first single, depending on what Muchmusic (Canada's music video channel) did with the band. As time went on, more local bands started to supply Hard Rock Heroes with music to play on the show (including videos!) and this complemented the show as well. Out of town bands that played Winnipeg or were seen in rock magazines and record reps would furnish music or the occasional video too, and if suitable (i.e., not all over Muchmusic), those would be added to the mix, too. If radio wouldn't play it, you can bet your ass Hard Rock Heroes would.
As briefly brought up above, too, once the show got underway, Hard Rock Heroes started to cover regular concerts by hard rock bands in Winnipeg as well as cover the local scene in the form of HRH-shot band footage and interviews. An endless supply of performers eventually made their way to Hard Rock Heroes. Some of the big names included Slaughter, Nazareth, Honeymoon Suite, Lee Aaron, Helix, Big House, Randy Bachman, The Four Horsemen, and Quiet Riot. Local hard rockers that were featured included Specula Black, Marc Labossiere, Lenita Erickson, Shanghai Slash, Ballroom Zombies, and Leathur Dogz. Today, many of these local performers are grateful to Beau Hajavitch and Hard Rock Heroes for giving them one of their big breaks; after all, if a local Winnipeg band makes a video, where can they get it shown? On Muchmusic, maybe. But what day and time will Muchmusic show it, and will it be in the TV listings? This was much more organized, and resulted in quite a large audience witnessing Marc Labossiere's or Dead Beat Honeymooners' videos for the first time. Other benefits for local performers that had their bar band footage on Hard Rock Heroes included perhaps people who aren't up at 1:00 a.m. seeing Specula Black perform onstage at Georgie's for the first time through their TV sets, or other people watching who can't or won't go to bars because they are either too young to get into bars (18 is the drinking age in Manitoba), because they suffer from alcoholism, or because they're just plain broke that night. All of those groups of people could buy a band's album someday, though. Hard Rock Heroes had a real purpose; to take these artists and to help turn them into big international stars. And had Hard Rock Heroes continued past 1993, it would have been interesting to find out how well this goal would have been attained.
Hard Rock Heroes came to an end in August 1993. VPW's parent company had to cut costs again. They had previously cut costs in 1991 by laying off almost 30 employees at the cable company that VPW is a part of. In addition, they sold off their Winnipeg radio interests to another company. This time, they decided to cut the hours of VPW's production time from approx. 20 hours per week to 6.5 hours per week. They were also under pressure from the CRTC (Canada's broadcast regulator) to let in potential producers that had been on a waiting list for a long time, some as long as two years. That waiting list was caused by the laying off of the employees two years ago and the cutbacks in studio time that that had created. As a result, VPW was forced to cancel every existing show off the channel, including Hard Rock Heroes, and start over with a whole new smaller schedule of shows, letting these potential producers in, and while they were at it, instituting a whole new mindset toward producing these new shows. They would take their time and make this very small schedule of shows look as spiffy as possible in terms of production values. Oh, and one more thing: There would no longer be any more permanent shows. Once your 13 weeks are up, your show has ended and another producer can come in and do his show. That's the true meaning of public access, I guess. But where does that leave Hard Rock Heroes?
It's sad that Hard Rock Heroes had to come to an end, but let's not dwell on the negative aspects of the past. Instead, this website was created to celebrate the things Hard Rock Heroes did accomplish, and the people and events in time the show did capture. Let's take a look back at the Hard Rock Heroes scrapbook, much like you would look at the albums of your own family photos (except there's no one fat or ugly here).
So peruse the site, and enjoy!
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