The genre of heavy metal, which developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s traces its roots back to Britain during the mid-1960s. It was during this period that the quintessential sounds of the genre were created. Several iconic bands formed during this period that paved the way for their successors to own the decades to come. These bands included hugely popular and well-known entities such as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. Other, less well-known bands included the Yardbird’s, Purple Haze, Uriah Deep, and UFO.
The Emergence of British Rock
In the mid-1960s, the true predecessors of the heavy metal genre began to make names for themselves. Drawing upon American Blues, several British groups developed a new sound that was unheard of up until their time. By speeding up many of the American Blues songs that were highly popular at the time, groups such as the Rolling Stones developed a new style featuring loud and distorted guitars. Other bands, such as The Kinks, The Who, and The Yardbird’s began experimenting with these sounds around the same time as well.
Developing the Heavy Metal Sound
As British rock bands began experimenting with louder, distorted guitars, the other instruments necessarily had to become louder as well to compete. This led to harsher, more amplified drumming, as well as more amplified vocals. The collection of these sounds would culminate in future groups to become the prominent genre that would span nearly two entire decades.
Heavy Metal is Born
Although there is still a debate over the birth of the genre, many consider one of two candidates to be the first bands to embody its true spirit: Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The Yardbird’s guitarist, Jimmy Page formed Led Zeppelin in London in 1968, and their very guitar-driven music is considered by many to be the first of the genre. Another candidate, the Ozzy Osbourne led Black Sabbath, produced extremely dark and horror-inspired music beginning in the late-1960s. Writing lyrics about such taboo themes as political corruption, drug abuse, and war, this band is often touted as the true first incarnation of the musical category. Keeping true to their dark themes, their first self-entitled album was released on Friday the 13th, 1970.
A Metal Explosion
Following the examples set by Led Zeppelin, with their self-titled album in 1969, and Black Sabbath’s pair of 1970 albums, “Black Sabbath” and “Paranoid,” various other bands emerged with similar sounds. Coming to fruition in 1970 was another project by the name of Deep Purple. Releasing the hit album, “Black Night,” this band burst onto the scene with a unique style. Two other bands, Uriah Heep and UFO, released debut albums in 1970 that featured harsh guitar riffs and dark vocals. Other bands appeared around this same timeframe, both in the United States and in Britain that further developed the emerging heavy metal genre.