If you’re a rock music enthusiast, you’ve likely used the term “heavy metal” to describe some of your go-to groups, but have you ever wondered where the term originated?
The history of the phrase began in the 1960s. The earliest use of the term is believed to have been in 1962, in William Burrough’s novel, “The Soft Machine.” Burroughs uses the term to refer to various things from a character named Uranian Willy to the addiction to hardcore drugs: “with their diseases and orgasm drugs and their sexless parasite life forms—Heavy Metal People of Uranus wrapped in cool blue mist of vaporized bank notes—And The Insect People of Minraud with metal music.”
In 1967, the term first entered the music realm when a band called Hapshash and the Coloured Coat titled their album, “Featuring the Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids.” It wasn’t until 1968, however, when heavy metal was used to actually describe the genre of rock music that would house legends like Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, and Metallica (notice a metal theme?). In the May 1968 issue of Rolling Stone, author Barry Gifford comments on the musical stylings of rock band, Electric Flag: “This is the new soul music, the synthesis of white blues and heavy metal rock.”
The pairing of “heavy” and “metal” to describe the genre originates from the beatnik term “heavy,” meaning profound or powerful, while “metal” insinuated intensity. Thus, heavy metal was a class of music that featured intense sound mixed with powerful lyrics. This was not pop music nor a love ballad.
Heavy metal music has evolved through the ages, but the foundation on which it is based remains the greatest example of what the genre is meant to be. Many of the original heavy metal bands are still the most loved and listened to.
Are you a heavy metal fan? Personally, I enjoy Led Zeppelin, but I can’t say I’m too familiar with many of the other iconic metal bands. Do you think we should design a line of coins dedicated to these rock gods? Let me know your thoughts on heavy metal and which bands (metal or not) show up most often on your playlist!
If you haven’t already seen this week’s new release, check out Garm, the 1 oz Silver Hellhound. I can’t think of a more metal animal than a blood stained, red eyed beast who guards the gates of the underworld. And, enter to win some shiny bullion in our Valentine’s Giveaway and our Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway!