Fathers of heavy metal.

Blue Cheer, a band you have never heard of, was the first band I ever heard of that blasted volume and distortion at ear-bleeding levels and screamed out their lyrics. Are they the “fathers of heavy metal”? Or just a couple of kids with amps bigger than their brains? (Is there a difference?)

Yet in their fascinating, authoritative, and oddly affectionate documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, filmmakers Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen suggest that the genre may have begun in 1968, when the San Francisco band Blue Cheer released the single Summertime Blues.

Which might even be before The Who started playing this old Eddie Cochran song live in concert, but the article doesn’t mention that. It does seem to me that you get famous for doing something not by being the first sometimes. Sometimes somebody else has to do it again to get noticed.

They say that allergic reactions happen with the second exposure to the allergen. “Hmm, ragweed, smells funny.” Then the body produces antihistamines. “Ack, ragweed, my nose is running and I can’t see!”

I know that some actors only got famous because they were glimpsed before on commercials. Sharon Stone, for example, was in a Diet Coke commercial, so she looked familiar when we saw her in Basic Instinct.

So maybe this means if you’re going to do Something, put on a disguise and do it a little. Then show yourself for real and do That Thing a lot. Besides, if the first try doesn’t work, they won’t know who you are, that’s a bonus.


3 Responses to Fathers of heavy metal.

  1. Bishop says:

    I believe The Who were playing it live earlier; the unofficial release “Who’s Back” indicates that the track was performed live in London between 1965 and 1967. However, The Who did not officially release the song until 1970 on the Live At Leeds album.

    I’m not sure what the criteria is, but The Who’s My Generation and Anyway Anyhow Anywhere were songs released earlier.

    The term ‘heavy metal’ is generally credited to be coined in Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild’ song where they sing ‘heavy metal thunder’. That was 1968. So maybe the genre was born with the term and Blue Cheer were there at the right time.

  2. Bpaul says:

    I have too heard of Blue Cheer

    But many moons ago I was a music geek — and I’m almost as ancient as you are so….


  3. mikecane says:

    Did you know there’s a mystery novel with the title The Blue Cheer?


    Nothing to do with music, but still a great book.

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