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We are not worthy

Posted by Lewis on August 28, 2003

In Reply to: We are not worthy posted by Michael Jahn on August 21, 2003

: : : This is an FYI based on a handful of queries that have come my way in the course of, but unrelated to, my career as a writer of mystery and suspense novels. In the dim, dark recesses of history and my resume, and using the byline Mike Jahn, I was the first rock critic for the daily New York Times. In that regard I appear to have coined the phrase "heavy metal." At least I have repeatedly been told that I did. Here is the genesis: there were, in the laste 60s and early 70s, several bands that used metallic/heavy equipment imagery in their names: Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, Grand Funk Railroad, and MC5 (Motor City Five). I described them citing the phrase "heavy metal thunder" from the Steppenwolf song "Born to Be Wild." Apparently the category name of "heavy metal" music devolved from that.

: : : If I'm wrong, will someone please correct me? I'm not terribly proprietary about the matter, didn't patent it or anything, though I did rather expect that the achievement would earn me a lifetime supply of hair spray and leather pants.

: : : Michael Jahn

: : : Author of the just-published "Murder on Coney Island" and a bunch of other books

: : If you did coin the name, then it is a privilege to be a co-poster - my schoolbooks were adorned with the names of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, AC/DC (and by the time of leaving) Rainbow and Saxon.

: : "Demin and leather, brought us all together..."

: : Looking back, it's funny how some bands were labelled HM and others not - the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Who and Cream being amongst them - the beaus of the Portabello road had the same riff-rich mountain of sound, but the image didn't fit. Ironic that the thunderous bass-playing on 5:15 was "mod" and despised by rockers, yet in retrospect Entwistle is playing some of the best rock bass of that period - and Jack Bruce on "Sunshine of your love" - a riff to rival (or dare I say eclipse?) that of "Smoke on the water"
: : - I suppose with Hendrix it was a case of "Talk about me like a doll, talk about the clothes I wear and they don't realise that they're the one's who're square" - even at the time, he didn't want labels, but tracks like "Purple Haze" and "All along the watchtower" are candidates for my HM Hall of Fame.

: : Any objections to an (unsorted) vaguely top 10 of (1 entry per artist)
: : 1.Stairway to Heaven/Whole Lotta Love (Led Zep)
: : 2.Bohemian Rhapsody/Another one bites the dust (Queen)
: : 3.Highway to Hell/Back in black (AC/DC)
: : 4.Eruption/Jump (Van Halen)
: : 5.Smoke on the Water/Black Night (Deep Purple)
: : 6.Innagaddaveda (Iron Butterfly)/Paranoid (Black Sabbath)
: : 7.Purple haze/All along the watchtower (Hendrix)
: : 8.Ace of Spades/Please don't touch (Motorhead)
: : 9.Sunshine of your love/Crossroads (Cream)
: : and that difficult final spot :
: : 10.House of the rising sun (Frigid Pink)? Fool for your loving (Whitesnake)? Since you've been gone (Rainbow)? 747(strangers in the night) (Saxon) Free Bird (Lynerd Skynerd)? School's out (Alice Cooper)? Silver Machine (Hawkwind)?

: : I got all confused trying to decide where the boundaries of HM lay, but it was more fun than working for a few minutes...

: : Other people drop a list and we can all go tripping down memory lane.

: I never thought of Hendrix as HM. I knew the man well enough to doubt he wouldn't have thought of himself that way. Cream, yes, now that you mention it, the Jack Bruce contribution must count among the precursers of HM. The Who? Well, in their "Live at Leeds" moment they certainly were, you know, banging out the Eddie Cochran tunes. MC5 certainly was. "Kick Out the Jams" may have been one of the two or three HM songs/albums. MC5's relatively little known "Thunder Express" surely is an HM moment, not the least being its celebration of metal and movement.

: BTW, my apparent coinage of the term "Heavy metal" came in a phrase exactly or very much like "this heavy metal music ..." referring to Led Zed, Iron Butt, and a few others.

Your post made me think a bit - I've stuck a few tunes on my PC (from CDs) and burned a CD compilation, to which I was listening whilst cooking yesterday - funnily enough it had "5:15" after "Ace of Spades" and I thought Entwistle blew Lemmy away. It also contained "Purple Haze" and "Teenage Dirt Bag" - again the HM band (Wheatus) were out-rocked by a potentially non-HM Experience.

I've not known anybody who met Jimi Hendrix - but from his lyrics, I'm sure he didn't like labels per se. I was only a kid when he died and didn't have the chance to see him live, let alone speak to him. I've often wondered what he'd be doing now (musically) should he have not died. The idea of a collaboration between him and Miles Davies really excites me - to think of what they could have done..."Bitches Brew" would have been nothing!
long term, I think Jimi may have gone in the direction Carlos Santana did - jazz/funk/rock and been an approachable inspiration to the younger performers, the same way that Carlos followed the example of the likes of John Lee Hooker.

See Heavy Metal - meaning and origin.

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