History of Heavy Metal
The emergence of heavy metal music dates back to the end of the 1960’s in Britain when bands such as the Who, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath ushered in a new era of Rock music. Inspired by the sounds of Blues-Rock and Psychedelic Rock, the new heavy metal genre forged its own unique style with fast tempos, bass drums and amplified guitars producing distorted sound. The style resonated with the growing counter-culture movement that was spreading across the western culture. Many viewed the music as a protest against the prevailing social conditions and as an expression of the underlying angst and discontent that many in society were feeling at the time.
In the late Sixties and early Seventies, North America began to witness their own rise of heavy metal bands with groups like the Grand Funk Railroad, Steppenwolf, Kiss and Alice Cooper playing leading roles in spearheading the movement. Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” is considered by many to be the first purely heavy metal song. Its lyrics expressed much of the essence that governed the counter-cultural ethos, namely rebellion, aggression and freedom.
By the late Seventies, the heavy metal genre had begun to make inroads into the mainstream and paved the way for the success seen during the 1980’s. Def Leopard, Motley Crew, Iron Maiden, Guns and Roses and Metallica, to name several, would go on to become household names, touring in different cities around the world and being broadcast heavily on the radio and television. However, in the 1990’s some of the momentum had faded as new cultural waves of stylistic influences arrived and merged heavy metal together with other genres. Today, heavy metal continues to enjoy wide- spread appeal but has fallen away from its once central place in the music world.