Hard History

Part I

When did heavy metal begin? It's hard to say. According to most metal annals, the first outbursts came from the Kinks with "You Really Got Me" and the Who with "My Generation" around 1964. As for the first heavy metal artist, that position arguably belongs to Alice Cooper, whose band was founded in 1965 under the name The Spiders. Heavy metal, however, was not to truly flourish until the year of 1967, and Alice Cooper was to become embedded in the collective mind of the world until 1971 with the classic Love It To Death.

During 1967, the rock world was still absorbed by the Summer of Love, but it was about to witness one of its most important revolutions. Bands like Golden Earring (formed in 1965), Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, Free, Uriah Heep, Mountain, Humble Pie, Bloodrock, MC5, Black Widow, Atomic Rooster, Cactus, and Black Sabbath came to being between 1966 and 1970, and struck the world with what both Iron Butterfly and Steppenwolf would first baptize "heavy metal;" the first through reviews of its Heavy album and the second due to the phrase "heavy metal thunder," found in the motorcycling classic "Born to Be Wild." A new type of music, which borrowed heavily from rock and roll and the blues, was gaining influence on the youth of those times, which was slowly getting tired of the stagnant Summer of Love scene.

Out of the explosion of new bands, it was Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience that were to be the first bands to give heavy metal a high commercial profile. The legendary guitarist Eric Clapton was part of the first; a band that remains a seminal power trio and heavy metal act that released such memorable songs as "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "White Room." During the course of four albums and two years, Cream became a prominently successful band that influenced the likes of Rush and Van Halen, and would later spawn the also legendary Blind Faith. Meanwhile, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was another musical trio, based around the guitar histrionics of the legendary Jimi Hendrix. Albums such as Are You Experienced? and Electric Ladyland drew thousands of ravenous fans, which feasted on the music provided by a band that is often mentioned along with Janis Joplin and the Doors as one of the world's all-time premiere rock units.

Hard History Part I Page 2