Judas Priest’s Rob Halford Answers: Who Is the First ‘Definitive’ Heavy Metal Band?

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The first “definitive” heavy metal band is usually considered to be Black Sabbath, although there are different opinions on this matter. Some, like Zakk Wylde and even Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, have questioned this notion. Recently, during an appearance on the WTF With Marc Maron podcast. Rob Halford from Judas Priest shared his answer to this popular question. The beginnings of heavy metal music have been a topic of debate for a long time. Some argue that there were instances of rich and intense music before Black Sabbath’s debut in 1970. Others who followed Black Sabbath played a style that later became more recognizable as traditional heavy metal.

Rob Halford Names The First ‘Definitive’ Heavy Metal Band

During the podcast conversation with host and comedian Marc Maron. Interviewers questioned Rob Halford, often referred to as the “Metal God,” about the origins of heavy metal music. In response, Halford mentioned that there are different beliefs about where heavy metal music truly began. He pointed out that some people have suggested that the name “heavy metal” might have originated from a song by the band Blue Cheer. The specific song in question is “Summertime Blues,” known for its notably heavy sound. This song is a cover of the Eddie Cochran classic and appeared on Blue Cheer’s debut album “Vincebus Eruptum” in 1968. In this album, the San Francisco-based band, known for their psychedelic blues style, ventured into uncharted territory, pushing the boundaries of sonic heaviness.

Halford also shared another theory: Steppenwolf’s song “Born To Be Wild” contains the phrase “heavy metal thunder,” which is an early reference to the words “heavy” and “metal” being used together in a song.

The conversation then delved into the ongoing debate within the music community about what defines the sound of heavy metal. Halford cited the example of Black Sabbath, a band he has always considered a representative of heavy metal. However, he humorously mentioned that his friend Tony Iommi, a member of Black Sabbath, often views their music as more aligned with rock or hard rock.

Instead of challenging Iommi on this matter, Halford playfully claimed the title for himself and his band, Judas Priest. He highlighted that Judas Priest released their debut album, “Rocka Rolla,” in 1974. Halford boldly asserted, with a touch of humor, that Judas Priest should be recognized as the first definitive heavy metal band.

He confidently stood by this statement, emphasizing the definitive nature of their sound and craftsmanship. It evolved from the individual perspectives of the band members on what heavy music should sound like. Halford was aware that his statement would likely grab headlines, but he expressed his genuine belief in this claim.

Is Rob Halford Right?

While the debate about the origins of heavy metal music may never yield a definitive answer. It is entirely reasonable to assert that Judas Priest can be considered the pioneering group in this genre. They significantly contributed to popularizing the style the music world now universally recognizes as traditional or classic heavy metal. And characterized by high-pitched vocals, harmonized lead guitar melodies, blistering riffs, and powerful drumming.

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