Often when people introduce Heavy Metal they set the scene of grimy streets in urban and industrialized Middle England. I do not think this is unfair or inaccurate, this scene describes where we got Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Led Zepplin (Though Zepplin's Heavy Metal credentials are another blog entirely). But where did they get their influence? Usually in reading about Heavy Metal or watching a documentary, this is where they cut to the interview where Ozzy or Geezer explain the dream of the big black figure and reading about the occult. Some even cut to the interview where Tony Iommi is pointing at his crushed fingers. His crushing his fingers, which led to playing down - tuned and with fake finger tips is not an influence, it's a coincidence.
So we are still looking at it. What in the world influenced Heavy Metal? Where did it start? And while I've read Ian Christe, watched Sam Dunn and lived Heavy Metal since 2006 I'm still going to be referencing Wikipedia as often as I feel is necessary, sorry in advance if that makes you feel uncomfortable.
I like to look at the genres that are said to be influencial on a certain genre. For Heavy Metal there are two genres - Blues Rock and Psychedelic Rock. Blues Rock makes the most sense to me, so let's look at Psychedelic Rock first. I think the biggest influences we can see from Psychedelic Rock on Heavy Metal is an experimentation with different styles and effects of Indian music. Which is an avenue all styles of music, especially (I'd say) Rock and all it's variants and Blues, took during the 1960 and '70s. Another thing that Heavy Metal might have gotten from both Blues and Psychedelic Rock is diverse use of intstrumentation (for Rock). In the early days they (Heavy Metal Bands) weren't afraid of pianos, keyboards, harmonicas and Black Sabbath even had a saxophone player at one point. Of course we all know that in the early days of Death Metal and Thrash Metal (different blogs for different times) they were very elitist about using only the three main rock instruments.
So, what's the story about Blues Rock and it's influence on Heavy Metal? Well, let us look. Music Critic Piero Scaruffi has called Blues Rock, a "genre of rhythm'n'blues played by white European musicians." So, is it that simple? The genre of blues, played on acoustic guitars and harmonicas at the most basic level, gave birth to the genre of Heavy Metal because it traveled across the Atlantic and was played by a different ethnicity? Maybe. Personally I'm excited to find out. But I've reached my own self imposed alloted limit for this blog. We've laid the ground work. Please feel free to ask questions and comment on the facts, opinions and ideas brought forward in this blog.
I'll leave you with this, some bands to check out, and some genres I mean to discuss in future blogs:
Psychedelic Rock Bands:
Holy Modal Rounders
The Fugs (I recommend Kill For Peace)
Blues Rock Bands:
Butterfield Blues Bands
Chicago - Style Blues
Until Next Time, Rock Hard, Rock Often:
P.S. What subject should #FridayNightFacts be about this week?
- Alexander Thrasher
"Those that dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the day to find that all was vanity, but the dreamers of the day, are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams and make them real."