The magazine's title is onomatopoeic and derives from the noise made when smashing an electric guitar.
Kerrang! was first published on the 6 June, 1981, edited by Geoff Barton , initially as a one-off supplement in the Sounds newspaper devoted to the current New Wave of British Heavy Metal (or 'NWOBHM' for short) and the rise of other hard rock acts such as AC/DC, who appeared on Kerrang!’s first cover.
During the 1980s and early 1990s the magazine placed many thrash and glam metal acts on the cover (like Mötley Crüe, Slayer, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Poison, Testament) but later discarded them when grunge acts such as Nirvana rose to fame. Readers often criticise the magazine for repeating this process every time a new musical trend becomes popular; for example, Prince was heavily featured around the time of the release of Purple Rain, including a cover, and there are also issues in the 1980s featuring U2 and Big Country. More recently, there are many complaints about Kerrang!'s current emphasis on emo and metalcore music, particularly stemming from the fact that the magazine continually printed issues with My Chemical Romance on the front cover for several weeks, following the release of their album, The Black Parade.
Kerrang! also includes a satirical comic strip called Pandora (originally Pandora Peroxide ), named for its main character, who is seen every week making fun of recent events in the rock world. The strip is written and drawn by Ray Zell. Other characters include Wek and Web. Wek, the "work experience kid" is a love interest who leaves Pandora and opens a tearoom. He is featured occasionally in strips. Web replaced Wek, and is a "work experience brat". Web has an obsession with Ville Valo of the band HIM. She even has a locket with one of Ville's discarded cigarette butts in it. Other minor characters included in the series are: Auntie P (the original Pandora Peroxide), Orgasm Girl, Billy and Bludwyn.
In 2006 Kerrang! stated on their website that they are trying to bring a radio station to South Wales.
The first time the awards were televised, was in 2001 via a recording on Channel 5 in the UK, with Channel 4 also showing a recording at late-nights until 2004. The 2007 awards were televised on the now defunct Hits music channel, and the 2008 awards were televised on the new 4Music music channel, owned by Channel 4.
Many rock acts see these awards as important to win if nominated. The 17th edition of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums, highlights Feeder's award win in 2003 for "Best British Band" in their annual-round up of the year, including Metallica's Hall of Fame induction. It also mentions artists who have Kerrang! award wins if it's their biggest award, in the individual biographies for artists in their top 500 of all-time. It should be argued that not all winners of the awards are commercially sucsessful, nor wholly popular with those aware of the artist- the 2006 winners of the international and British newcomer awards, Aiden and Bring Me the Horizon were both bottled at the 2006 and 2008 Reading and Leeds festivals, in a severe and brutal manner. It should be noted that winners over the years with at least one gold or platinum album, and/or a very dedicated festival following, and/or a good run of hit singles or albums are much more worthy of the awards.
Kerrang TV is now a joint venture between Bauer Consumer Magazines and Channel 4. The current 'Head Of Music' is Mark Adams.