ME_103 Early Metal UK.pdf
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Creating the Early Metal UK episode was a dream come true for me: It was a chance to talk about the Big ThreeLed Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purpleand highlight Judas Priests role in being the first true heavy metal band, a story that I was hell bent on including in the series! But looking back at this episode not only brings happy memories, it also brings sadness. It features two of metals most influential sonic architectsJon Lord and Ronnie James Diowho
have passed away in the last few years. I interviewed Jon in London on March 4, 2010, and I was struck by his eloquence and graciousness. It was like sitting across from the rock-god grandfather I always wished I had. I learned so much from him about the link between classical and metal, as well as the role of his Hammond playing in the evolution of rock. As for Ronnie James Dio, I remember hearing about his pass-ing when we were in Bologna, Italy, filming the Power Metal episode, in May 2010. A colleague sent me a text that Ronnie had died and I didnt believe it; or perhaps more aptly, I didnt want to believe it. I was overcome with sorrow and was immediately grateful that we had the chance to spend time with him at his house in LA when we were filming Metal: A Headbangers Journey in 2004. Ronnie will stand the test of time as one of the great vocalists ever and a true elder statesman of metal. As metalheads, we all owe a great deal to Ronnie the singer and the ambassador.
EPISODE 3:EARLY METAL UK
Metal Evolution Episode 103 Early UK Narration: In the previous episode I explored the emergence of heavy music in America and what I learned is that the American bands have a much bigger part in the story of metal than I initially realized. But when I think of the great bands that truly gave birth to heavy metal I think of British bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and so Ive come to England because I want to find out why did this music come out of England and what was its impact back in the 1960s and 70s. Music Narration: During the 60s England gave rise to a number of bands that were heavier than anything that had come before but before the emergence of heavy metal this country was the home for another musical style that transformed rock music, the British Blues boom, so Im meeting with blues legend John Mayall to find out how this movement paved the way for heavy metal. Sam Dunn: I want to spend some time talking with you about whats famously known as the British Blues boom. John Mayall: Well fondly enough it wasnt known as that when it happened for the first few years, it was just called R&B which in America is totally different kind of music. There were just these venues that supported the music and it was just an opportunity for us to get out there and play what we wanted to play and were kind of surprised and delighted that there was an audience for it. Sam Dunn: Why do you think young musicians in England at that time were attracted to this music? John Mayall: Well I think generation to generation you get something that connects with an audience, prior to the blues boom was ten years of jazz bands so people flopped to those and I think the blues is something that addresses itself to situations in peoples lives that they can identify with. Dave Lewis (Author, The Complete Guide To The Music Of Led Zeppelin): Lots of these guys were listening to records that were coming over from the States, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, they were picked up on so theyre massive influences you know and I think thats where they began to wanna play like those guys.
Music: Chris Welch (Journalist): When the British R&B bands first appeared like the Yardbirds for example, really they were all playing on a kinda really nervy sort of form of playing, R&B in a way, it was really fast almost hysterical, it was very excitable and kind of lacked power and depth, so gradually its when bands learned to slow down a bit and to use more bass. All these little ways of playing the music changed the whole sound of it, so its when they learned to relax really; I think thats when bands began to become heavier. Music Sam Dunn: If we think of guitarists like Clapton and Page and a guy like Jeff Beck, what was unifying do you think, all of these players? John Mayall: It was all based on blues initially and then it kinda got individualized by different people, Eric was always into the blues whereas Beck and Page although they started off with the blues and then it very quickly mushroomed into there on, all individual styles. Music Narration: Besides the Jeff Beck Group, Cream and The Yardbirds, the one band that unquestionably transformed the blues into something much heavier was Led Zeppelin. Theyre one of the most celebrated bands in the history of rock and Rolling Stone magazine even described them as the heaviest band of all time. But what exactly was Led Zeppelins connection to the British Blues boom and what was unique about their sound? Dave Lewis: Well Led Zeppelin occurred at the time of the British Blues boom and they came right smack in middle of it, you only got to look at the first album I Cant Quit You Babe , You Shook Me, Within two or three years they were taking the influences of Willie Dixon and taking it much further. Billy Gibbons (Vocals/Guitar, ZZ Top): Led Zeppelin I think its fair to say that people would like to place them as probably the launch pad of what exemplifies the early days of heavy, and it is. Sam Dunn: How did Zeppelin achieve their heaviness? What did Jimmys guitar tone contribute? Eddie Kramer (Producer):
He was the guy you would call if you wanted that really gritty distorted guitar tone and he was master of that, I mean when you hear the tone of his solo coming in, its instantaneously identifiable Sam Dunn: Talk about Robert Plant as a front man. Why do you think he was important in terms of his presentation that was doing something new? Frankie Banali (Drums, Quiet Riot): Robert Plant was that golden god lead singer, he had the attitude, he had the look, he had the mannerisms. Robert Plant was probably more than any other singer that iconic role model for singers. Sam Dunn: Were in Trinifold Management, who manages Judas Priest, let us use this room which is the office of Bill Curbishley who manages Robert Plant, to be so close but so far because weve been really trying to get Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to be part of the series but theyve declined. The problem I guess for Plant and Page is they dont liked to be associated with the term Heavy Metal even though they were hugely influential. Eddie Kramer: I never really thought of them as a heavy quote metal band basically because of the complete diversity of material heavily acoustically orientated with a strong beef. I guess you could say without Zeppelin they wouldnt be quote unquote Heavy Metal but I dont think that I would ever consider them a heavy metal band. I think Sabbath probably more than any band would be the definition of a heavy metal band you know, the essence of one. Music Narration: Although Led Zeppelin didnt self identify as a heavy metal band, Black Sabbath is the one band that many argue marked the beginning of the heavy metal sound. So I need to find out why Sabbath is considered the pioneer of the genre. Music Crowd Cheering ACT 2 Music Narration: In the early seventies Black Sabbath created a sound that was darker and more sinister than ever before so Ive come to Birmingham, Sabbaths home town in Englands industrial heart land to find out where they got the inspiration to create this sound.
Music Sam Dunn: When you started out with Sabbath, describe for me what Birmingham was like? Bill Ward (Drums, Black Sabbath): Birminghams profile is dismal, you know, rain swept and factories and belching smoke, its a very industrial place. You could go into the factories, we could go to prison or you could be a gangster. Geezer Butler (Bass, Black Sabbath): Birmingham had a massive hammering during World War 2, theres still a lot of bombed out buildings around, the place on the corner where I grew up is completely demolished by bombs in the war. Where we lived was very very working class, theres a lot of immigration there, very mixed racially and culturally and a lot of street fighting. Sam Dunn: So how did this sort of horrible reality influence what Black Sabbath sounded like? Bill Ward: We all let some feelings about the counter culture or a lot of the peace movements but I think all of us had an attitude to well, thats all well and good, but thats not whats going on right now, Im sitting here looking at a guy getting his guts beaten up and music began to take a really good look at what was really on the ground or really what we were seeing. I think it had a huge impact on Sabbath. Music Sam Dunn: Describe for me the sound of Black Sabbaths music? How was it different than what else was going on? Jim Simpson (Former Manager, Black Sabbath): The country was inundated with blues bands and they all sounded the same or looked the same or smelt the same and wore the same denim jackets and all the guitar players played sixty mile long solos and we were all anxious to get out of that because all five of us believed the band was going somewhere so we had to do something different. Geezer Butler: Wed jam around and see what we came out with and we came out with the song Wicked World That put us on you know, thought this is good, we can do it, well have a go at another one and the second song was Black Sabbath and then we just thought, god this is really weird, different, lets just give it a try on the next gig and we did the gig, we played it right at the end of Black Sabbath and the crowd just went absolutely mental. They were saying play that again, play that again, so we played