DEFINING moments in Metal – Part One –
1: Tony Iommi Loses His Fingers
Born in Birmingham, England, Iommi worked in a factory as a teenager where he lost the tips of two of his fingers in an accident.
As riff-maker extraordinaire and the acknowledged king of heavy metal we wonder how far things would have gotten if Iommi hadn’t lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers… and then had to re-string his guitars with slacker, lower pitched strings which – inevitably- created a “bigger, heavier sound”.
2: Johnny Kidd & the Pirates Hit the Charts
It seems unlikely that a 1959 rock ‘n’ roll band should influence “The History of Heavy Metal” but London born skiffle guitarist Frederick Albert Heath aka Johnny Kidd and his band ‘The Pirates’ bravely led where others meekly followed. Without Johnny Kidd & the Pirates we would have none of the theatricals that we routinely associate with Metal – that is, we would not have Alice Cooper, Kiss nor Dimmu Borgir.
Johnny Kidd was probably the first rock artist to ‘dress up’ to entertain his crowds – putting on histrionic shows that were always absurdly theatrical & over the top. His band wore full pirate costumes – complete with eye-patches and cutlasses – and unusually for a band of that period … the lead singer ‘fronted’ the band with a line-up that included two guitarists.
They seemed to be breaking the format somehow- it was all so devilishly new! So new, in fact, that members of Led Zeppelin went to see Johnny Kidd & the Pirates perform … to learn more about stagecraft. And, according to legend, Roger Daltrey gave up playing guitar – so he could ‘front’ his band just like Johnny Kidd did.
Kidd died aged 30 (in 1966) in a motor car accident on the A58, Bury New Road, near Radcliffe, Lancashire. In the car, with Kidd, was bassist Nick Simper, who later went on to become a founder member of Deep Purple.
3: The Hindenburg Disaster
On Thursday, May 6, 1937 the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames during its fated attempt to dock with a mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey. There were 35 fatalities.
The incident shattered public confidence in airship travel and marked the end of the airship era.
Blues musician Lead Belly wrote a song titled “The Hindenburg Disaster” in 1937 but it wasn’t till the New Yardbirds discovered an image of the disaster and decided to re-name themselves in reference to the crashing zeppelin that heavy metal caught on in a big way.
The October 1968 album released by Led Zeppelin features the burning Hindenburg airship.