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Origins of Heavy Metal and Role in American Society

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Essay title: Origins of Heavy Metal and Role in American Society

Origins of Heavy Metal and Role in American Society

Heavy Metal is a genre of music that originated back in the late 1960's. Heavy metal is a hybrid of all musical talents but it emerged as a really defined type of music in the 1970's and 1980's. Heavy metal took its roots from the old blues and rock n' roll and added a heavy distorted sound that centered around the drums and the guitar. Not only did it take its roots from musical talent it also took it from what was going on at the time of its development, examples would have to be the Vietnam War, Drug Usage, and the power to the people movement.

Origins of the genre are debated, but musically wise American Blues was very popular and as well influential to the early British rockers (Christie12). Bands as such are The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and The Yardbirds, they would record covers of classical songs and speed up tempos and alter the song with electric guitar instead of acoustic guitar (14). Powered up Blues music was encouraged by artistic experimentation that came up by guitarists finding a much different way to play amplified guitar. Drums also altered the sound of blues music by turning the old traditional blues beat into a more hard complex beat, vocalists also started to make their own unique way of singing during those days each singer having their own unique singing (18). While technology growing bigger everyday that meant that recording studios could really catch the sound of this heavy metal approach on recording. The true origins of how heavy metal started is still argued today, but most agree on that it first came out of the United Kingdom in the late 1960's and the most prominent bands that came out of that era were Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, the bands totally took the new sound that was becoming popular and

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messed with it some more and both bands came to find their own unique sound. Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath influenced American psychedelic rock artists and among those many artists was Jimi Hendrix who even exploited more of the electrical guitar more than Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath had done (WeinStein, 20). Jimi Hendrix had gone so far with his new approach to playing the electrical guitar that he influenced the American rocker bands and European rocker bands such as The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbth to clash upon new rhythms and sounds with the American bands(22). By the late 1966 heavy blues sounds were starting to become popular. And around this time the Vietnam war was going on over seas causing a different sort of war at home brought on by those who didn't support the war in Vietnam. This group sparked the love and peace era and were became known as “Hippies”, they were the young generation of the 60's and 70's that protested the Vietnam war (Weinstien25). The hippies defied the moral culture of the 50's. They adopted socialist ways of living, were advocates of many human rights and liberation movements that took place and accepted drug usage and sexual promiscuity as their norm. Their unconventional beliefs were hugely expressed in music, dance and arts. These expressions impacted the music of that day like no other generation. Black Sabbath recorded an anti-war song called “War Pigs”, that accused the government of “treating people like pawns in chess”, referring to the military draft which the hippies were highly opposed to (Weinstien27). Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin also played a huge part in laying the ground work for today's metal music. Even if the bands did have different views on music everyone agrees that they paved the way for heavy metal music today. Some musicians would make music just about the war or drugs, many though would take both of those two topics and combine it in a song. Hippies were also

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know as “Flower Children” back in those years. Many of the flower children protested the war and one important person in music to lead them on would be Jimi Hendrix(28). He was from America and experienced first hand what the war at home was about. He would write many songs about the hippies and their movements against conventional society, an example is his song “If 6 was 9”. Jimi Hendrix along with many artists started playing live shows and not only would the music be very appealing to the crowd, the stage effects also would appeal to the fans as well(31). The stage effects were like none ever seen before. An example of this was Hendrix's antics of lighting his guitar on fire on stage and he played his guitar in an uncontrolled and extremely expressive way, that can be seen in metal music.

Themes, visuals and images are important to the metal genre of music as any other form of music (Walser41). Album covers and

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