What band or musician fathered modern day heavy metal? There are two schools of thought on this subject. Jimi Hendrix deserves consideration; however, while he may be influential, he was a blues man backed by blues men. Cream also deserves to be considered; the first power trio, heavy jazz and blues influences moved them into the realm of progressive rock. Known for ear shattering live performances, The Who, were a bit too pop oriented to be considered heavy. So what makes a band heavy, and who were those that brought heavy metal to the public's awareness? In my opinion the answers can only be found by looking into the work and careers of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Birmingham, England, an industrial city in Midlands County, is the home of Black Sabbath. The founding members of Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi, guitar, John “Ozzy” Osbourne, vocals, Bill Ward, drums, and Terrance “Geezer” Butler, Bass, came together in 1968 in the economically depressed area of Aston. This may have led to the dark and desperate undertones of their music; consequently, the darkest music ever heard. Whether it was Iommi’s innovative use of the tri-tone, also known as “The Devil’s Interval”, or that he plugged into the bass input on his amplifier, he created, arguably, the heaviest riffs of the time.
Led Zeppelin came into existence when guitarist Jimmy Page drove north, from London, to see a singer perform in Birmingham. Upon hearing Robert Plant’s powerful, soaring voice, he immediately offered him the job. Page was already a seasoned studio musician that had also spent time in the well-known band The Yardbirds. Plant had been singing in various bands around Birmingham; as a result, was also an experienced performer. Along with Plant came John Bonham on drums, whose thunderous, polyrhythmic playing style drove Led Zeppelin. Rounding out the band was session musician and bassist John Paul Jones, whom Page had previously worked with. Led Zeppelin were four seasoned musicians that came together with Pages vision leading them to a specific goal. Black Sabbath were four boys from Birmingham that essentially came from nowhere and forced themselves into the music scene.
Both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath had to endure rumors of occult connections. The name Black Sabbath has conjured frightening images to a generation of parents; furthermore, their heavy guitar riffs and dark lyrical content provided fuel for Christian groups to label them satanic. Anti war songs, such as War Pigs, are hardly satanic; in fact, the majority of early Sabbath songs had to do with politics or the struggle to raise themselves about their dead-end existence in Aston, Birmingham. Led Zeppelin, while being painted with the same brush, did have occult imagery on album covers as well as...