Heavy Metal (or simply metal) is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

In 1968, three of the genre's most famous pioneers, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were founded.Though they came to attract wide audiences, they were often derided by critics. During the mid-1970s, Judas Priest helped spur the genre's evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Beginning in the late 1970s, bands in the new wave of British heavy metal such as Iron Maiden and Saxon followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal fans became known as "metalheads" or "headbangers".

During the 1980s, glam metal became popular with groups such as Mötley Crüe, Poison and Def Leppard. Underground scenes produced an array of more aggressive styles: thrash metal broke into the mainstream with bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax, while other extreme subgenres of heavy metal such as death metal (with bands such as Death, Possessed, and Obituary) and black metal (with bands such as Mayhem, Bathory, and Immortal) remain subcultural phenomena. Since the mid-1990s popular styles have further expanded the definition of the genre. These include groove metal (with bands such as Pantera, Sepultura, and Lamb of God) and nu metal (with bands such as Korn, Slipknot, and Linkin Park), the latter of which often incorporates elements of grunge and hip hop.

Links to Peel

While the earliest use of the term “heavy metal” in a musical sense is much disputed,[1] Peel was firmly of the opinion that Blue Cheer were the first-ever heavy metal band, "regardless of whatever anyone else tells you."[2] The band's cover of "Summertime Blues" was among his choices for the 1967 Peelenium. By 1970, with the availability of more powerful amplification equipment, more groups were using volume in the way pioneered by Blue Cheer, and "heavy rock" had become a widely-used term for the kind of loud bands heard in clubs and at open-air festivals. They were seldom favourites of rock critics (epitomised by Grand Funk Railroad, who sold millions of albums in the US despite critical disdain) but paved the way for what would become known as heavy metal.

John Peel Intro - Led Zeppelin (live London 1971-04-01) -BBC-

John Peel Intro - Led Zeppelin (live London 1971-04-01) -BBC-

Melody Maker critic Chris Welch explained the meaning of "heavy" to his readers in 1969: "What the heavy mob are really on about is their musical approach. It refers to the way they lay down a beat, deliver lyrics and build up excitement. Fast tempos are out and so are over-complex arrangements...."[3] Many British "heavy" groups did sessions for Peel in the late 1960s and early 1970s including pioneers of the heavy metal genre such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, as well as lesser-known bands like Stray, Gypsy and Budgie. Their music was also played by Sounds Of The Seventies rock specialist DJ Mike Harding and, later in the 1970s when the genre had gained a larger following, on Alan Freeman's and Tommy Vance's rock shows. This exposure was reflected in the 1976 Festive Fifty, with entries by Purple, Zeppelin (who took the number one spot, as they did on Freeman and Vance's charts) with the ubiquitous Stairway To Heaven, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, highlighting Peel's contemporary interest in the Southern Rock sub-genre (with more of a blues influence).

Radio One Rock Shows

Vance started the Friday Rock Show on Radio 1 in November 1978, effectively to fill the gap left by Alan Freeman's sudden departure and to bring about a clearer distinction between the two sides of Radio 1's rock / heavy metal output which was carried on Radio 2's VHF transmitters. Up to this time, while Freeman's still old-wave-based show had crossed over much more into punk and its aftereffects than is sometimes claimed, Peel had been playing - under duress - the likes of Yes and Boston (21 August 1978); now Peel was to be free to play only what he personally liked (mostly punk and reggae), and while Vance taking over Peel's Friday night slot with his 'Friday Rock Show' reduced Peel's weekly airtime by 20%, it arguably strengthened the identity of Peel's show, definitively separating the music that was acceptable within the "NME consensus" from that which wasn't, recognising the fact that by this time they had almost entirely separate audiences and profoundly opposing politics.

The Friday Rock Show, combined with Vance's Saturday afternoon show 'Rock On', became as important to a quite different audience as Peel's show was to its own audience, all the more so after Vance's show - initially still a broader-based mainstream rock show on the lines of what Freeman had done before - became very heavily dominated by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (which Peel and the NME largely viewed with disdain) in the early 1980s, although Peel did play early NWOBHM from bands such as Def Leppard and Motorhead at that time.


Suicidal Tendencies - Institutionalized (Official Video - HQ audio)

Suicidal Tendencies - Institutionalized (Official Video - HQ audio)

Peel in the mid/late 80's rarely played traditional heavy metal but instead focused more on the extreme elements. One of these was a genre which combined thrash and hardcore punk called crossover thrash, which got prominent airplay on his shows from bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, whose genre of music increasingly gained exposure on Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show.

Grindcore, which took elements of extreme heavy metal, began to get prominence on Peel's shows from the mid-80's, with artists such as Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror getting sessions on the programme. Those artists rarely got played on traditional heavy metal shows like Tommy Vance or Alan Freeman and none of them got any sessions or live broadcasts on those programmes.

John Peel's New Zealand Interview

John Peel's New Zealand Interview

By the late 80's/early 90's and beyond, Peel started to play other extreme metal genres such as death metal, that produced artists like Bolt Thrower and Obituary, whose sounds along with similar musicians, were featured on his shows. In an 2002 interview with 95bFM, a local radio station in New Zealand, he criticised rock shows on BBC Radio One in not playing death metal, claiming that a death metal music that he plays at the end of his show before a rock show programme would be the heaviest of the night.

Nonetheless, Peel continued playing extreme metal and less than a year before his death, he allowed Anaal Nathrakh to record a session in 2003 which amalgamated music from various extreme genres from grindcore, black metal, industrial and death metal.

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