Hard History

Part I Page 3

The first few years of heavy metal (the music being called classic metal at times because of its pioneering status) are considered by most as the best era of the genre ever. Without a doubt, it is quite a memorable segment of this music's history. It was back then that Led Zeppelin, unquestionably the most popular heavy metal band ever, created classics such as "Black Dog" and the Arabian "Kashmir;" but also had the brilliance of experimenting with forms of music such as reggae and folk. In fact, the latter was an essential part of the most widely known heavy metal song ever: "Stairway to Heaven." The masterfully created masterpiece was crafted by Page and vocalist Robert Plant to perfection and even today remains a constant radio staple.

It was, however, until 1970 that Black Sabbath inaugurated what many consider the "true" spirit and essence of heavy metal. Gloomy, crunching, and foreboding, albums like Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality demonstrated the wicked musical direction of guitarist Tony Iommi and band members Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Ward, and Geezer Butler through classic songs like "N.I.B.," "Paranoid," and "Children of the Grave." Bands such as Corrosion of Conformity, Metallica, and Nirvana were all influenced by the metal anthems provided by one of the genre's most memorable bands ever, and the face of modern music has hardly ever been the same since the Birmingham act exploded unto the scene. Meanwhile, Deep Purple, after going through a progressive rock stint with vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper, developed a solid slab of rock on its classic Deep Purple In Rock, and would for a long time be heralded as a true innovator of music. In fact, Ritchie Blackmore's classical guitar training, along with Jon Lord's synthesizers and Ian Gillan's piercing shrieks, was crucial in the development of heavy metal as it is known today.

During the mid-Seventies, six new bands were to also walk into the spotlight: the Blue Oyster Cult, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Queen, Aerosmith, and Kiss. Judas Priest would be responsible for popularizing the concept of two guitarists in a heavy metal band; Aerosmith for bringing back the blues, sex, and drugs; Thin Lizzy for breaking through with aesthetical and musical flash and style; Queen for introducing perhaps the greatest degree of experimentation within music and the renewal of majestic melodies and harmonies with a progressive rock edge; and Kiss for revolutionizing the art of live shows, at times presenting slightly macabre theatrics strongly reminiscent of Alice Cooper's. And the Blue Oyster Cult? They disappeared into oblivion after a series of forgettable albums released in the 80's. But during their halcyon days in the 70's, they were an important part of the hard rock arena circuit, combining beautiful 60's harmonies with searing guitars.

Hard History Part I Page 4