Skip to Content

What was the first song to say heavy metal?

The term “heavy metal” has been used to describe a genre of music characterized by high volume, distorted guitars, and pounding drums since the late 1960s. However, the first song to use the term “heavy metal” in its lyrics may surprise you.

The Birth of Heavy Metal

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the birth of a new style of rock music that would come to be known as heavy metal. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple were pioneers of the genre, characterized by loud, powerful guitar riffs, thundering drums, and lyrics exploring dark and often taboo subjects.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly who coined the term “heavy metal,” but it likely emerged from the African American vernacular used to describe a particularly funky and powerful sound. The phrase was first used as a musical descriptor in a 1967 review by Barry Gifford in Rolling Stone, but it didn’t become commonly associated with the hard rock genre until the early 1970s.

The Contenders

So, who was the first band to use the term “heavy metal” in their songs? There are a few contenders, and depending on how you define “heavy metal,” the answer may differ.

One of the most commonly cited songs is Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” Released in 1968, the song’s lyrics famously reference “heavy metal thunder,” describing the sound and feeling of a motorcycle revving up. However, it’s worth noting that the phrase “heavy metal” in this context is being used to describe the literal sound of a motorcycle, rather than the music.

Another notable contender is the Jeff Beck Group’s “Beck’s Bolero,” released in 1966. While the song doesn’t use the term “heavy metal” specifically, it’s cited as an early example of the genre’s defining characteristics. The song features a famous guitar riff played by Jimmy Page, who would go on to form Led Zeppelin, one of the first and most influential heavy metal bands.

Finally, there’s Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots,” released in 1970. While the song doesn’t explicitly use the term “heavy metal,” it’s cited as an early example of the genre’s defining sound, with heavy, distorted guitar riffs and dark lyrics exploring themes of drug use and paranoia.

The Winner

So, who wins the title of the first song to say “heavy metal?” While the other contenders may have contributed to the development of the genre, it’s generally agreed that Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” was the first song to use the term in its lyrics.

While it may seem like a small distinction, the use of “heavy metal” in a song helped to establish the term as a popular descriptor of a musical style. The phrase has since become synonymous with a variety of subgenres within heavy metal, from classic metal to thrash, death, and beyond.


The origins of heavy metal are complex and multifaceted, with many bands and songs contributing to the development of the genre. However, there’s no doubt that the first use of the term “heavy metal” in a song helped to solidify the term’s usage as a musical descriptor. Whether you prefer Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, or another contender, the fact remains that heavy metal is now a ubiquitous and iconic aspect of modern rock music.


What song started metal music?

The origins of heavy metal music are somewhat debated among music historians and enthusiasts. While there is no one definitive answer to the question of which song started metal music, there are a few contenders that are often cited as influential in the development of the genre.

One prominent candidate is “Black Sabbath” by the band Black Sabbath, which was released in 1970. The song’s ominous, sludgy guitar riffs and haunting lyrics are widely regarded as a formative moment in the birth of heavy metal. The band’s self-titled album, which features the song “Black Sabbath” as its opening track, is often considered one of the first true heavy metal albums.

Another song that is often mentioned in discussions of the origins of heavy metal is “I Can See for Miles” by The Who, which was released in 1967. The song features a driving rhythm and soaring vocals, as well as some of the distorted guitar sounds that would later become hallmarks of metal music.

Some music historians also point to “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks, which was released in 1964, as an early precursor to heavy metal. The song’s distorted guitar sound and aggressive, driving beat were highly influential on later metal bands.

However, it should be noted that the concept of heavy metal music as a distinct genre with defined musical characteristics didn’t really emerge until the 1970s. Prior to that time, various forms of rock, blues, and psychedelic music were all coalescing into what would eventually become heavy metal. So while these songs may be considered important building blocks in the development of the genre, it’s not entirely accurate to say that any one of them definitively started heavy metal music.

Who invented the heavy metal genre?

The origin of Heavy Metal is derived from various rock bands that were experimenting with new sounds in the late 1960s. However, it was Black Sabbath who truly crafted and defined the Heavy Metal genre. Black Sabbath, a four-piece band hailing from Birmingham, England, released their self-titled debut album in 1970, which is considered the first Heavy Metal album. The band’s sound was characterized by its distorted guitar riffs, gloomy and dark lyrics, and thundering rhythms.

In fact, it can be said that Black Sabbath’s debut album was a defining moment in the history of rock music. It was a stark contrast from the music that was being produced during that time, which was dominated by the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. Black Sabbath’s music was heavy, menacing, and dark, and its fans found it exciting.

The album was an instant success, debuting in the UK charts at number eight and staying on the charts for over a year. The album’s impact on the rock music scene was so powerful that it opened the doors for other bands to experiment with similar sounds and techniques. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Iron Maiden soon followed in Black Sabbath’s footsteps and helped to solidify the Heavy Metal genre.

While there were other bands experimenting with heavy and distorted sounds in the late 1960s, it was Black Sabbath who established the genre of Heavy Metal with their self-titled debut album in 1970. Their unique sound and style quickly gained a dedicated following, influencing countless bands to follow in their footsteps and cementing them as the pioneers of the Heavy Metal genre.

What is the oldest metal band?

The origins of heavy metal can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first heavy metal bands were known for their use of distorted electric guitars, aggressive drumming, and powerful vocals. Three bands are often regarded as the pioneers of this genre and are referred to as the “unholy trinity” of heavy metal. These bands are Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple.

Led Zeppelin released their self-titled debut album in 1969, which helped to establish heavy metal as a distinct genre. Their music featured heavily distorted guitar riffs, driving rhythm section, and powerful vocal performances by Robert Plant. Led Zeppelin is widely regarded as one of the most influential bands in rock history, and their legacy can be heard in the music of countless heavy metal acts that followed.

Black Sabbath is another band that played an important role in the development of heavy metal. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1970 and featured Tony Iommi’s heavy guitar riffs, Geezer Butler’s bass lines, Bill Ward’s thunderous drumming, and Ozzy Osbourne’s distinctive vocals. Their music was dark, heavy, and often featured themes of the occult, earning them the nickname “the godfathers of heavy metal.”

Deep Purple, who formed in 1968, are also credited with pioneering the heavy metal sound. Their music featured Ritchie Blackmore’s heavy guitar riffs, Jon Lord’s virtuosic keyboard playing, and Ian Gillan’s powerful vocals. Their 1970 album “In Rock” is considered as one of the defining albums of the genre.

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of heavy metal, it is widely recognized that Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple played a significant role in shaping the sound and defining the genre. These bands created a new form of music that was heavier, louder, and more aggressive than anything that had come before, paving the way for countless heavy metal bands that followed in their footsteps.