Attached is my Helium article on what I regard as the birth of Heavy Metal.
I’ve gotten a number of e-mails on the subject, it’s pretty hotly debated among afficianados, but my argument is that although Led Zeppelin may not be the creators of Heavy Metal, and certainly transcended the genre, it was really the opening of Dazed and Confused in 1969 that changed the way popular culture looked at “Heavy” music. It brought it to an entirely different level, a mix of melody and power that knew no boundaries.
By the time Jimmy Page finishes with his bow solo in Dazed and Confused and the band kicks in to their jam session, they have essentially redefined what could be accomplished as a group onstage, the way that Jimi Hendrix did with a singular instrument.
At the Filmore West performance on January 11th, 1969, by the time the band’s jam session is complete and they bring things back down for the final verse, you can hear the crowd on bootleg tapes giving them a standing ovation; this is for a band that at this point hadn’t even released an album yet and is almost completely unknown; and the song is still a full two minutes away from being done.
When Jimmy Page describes how they took the stage in San Francisco that weekend in January with a ferocity to make their mark with the hippest of the hip, and could feel it building in the crowd as the song progressed, he’s describing the 9:00 mark of the Dazed and Confused performance, the very hip and pop culture savvy crowd was completely blown away by Zeppelin’s performance and that in my humble opinion is when “Heavy Metal” began.
This performance came a couple of months later on Danish TV, it’s the first showing of the full Dazed and Confused on film to date. The crowd basically gives them a golf clap to open the song and is just too mindblown to respond by the end.
A lot of the early Zeppelin audiences didn’t seem to comprehend what they were watching, it was a whole new form of music to most…
Most of us can remember a point in our youth where someone invited us to “come along” and do something bad, something we’ve never done before.
When it comes to this song, Led Zeppelin is inviting an entire generation to come along, to somewhere no one is familiar with. You feel it in the music when you listen and watch.
That feeling created the 70’s…