Re: Origin of the term "Heavy Metal" music

Gary Singletary (gsinglet@SPRYNET.COM)
Sun, 17 Aug 1997 22:16:39 -0400

I'm not sure I've kept completely up on the discussion concerning the
origin of the term "Heavy Metal" but the following is support of a kind for
the Lester Bangs/
William Burroughs theme. The Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1979 edition,
incorporates a Glossary which states on page 612, in part, the following in
defining "Heavy Metal":
"Presumed to appeal primarily-almost exclusively-to working class
young men, and heavily associated with downer (barbituates, etc.) use. The
term was coined by critic Lester Bangs from certain passages in Burroughs'

'Naked Lunch'."
There is no attribution provided as to when or where Lester used the term.
As for the questionable accuracy of which Burroughs' book was involved and
incorporated presumption as to the exclusivity of the music's appeal, I
reference the Guide's
learned definition (in part) of "bubblegum" at page 606:
"... the form is now recognized as a breeding ground for production talent
and recording experimentation."
I had always wondered why the Lemon Pipers followed up "Green Tambourine"
with "Rice is Nice" - and now I know.

> From:
> To: sixties-l@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
> Subject: Re: Origin of the term "Heavy Metal" music
> Date: Wednesday, August 13, 1997 10:57 AM
> No music historian I, but I always had the impression that "heavy metal"
> came from the fact of the hyper-powered super amplified electric steel
> (hence "metal") guitars used in the post-Hendrix era. However, I never
> associate "heavy metal" with Hendrix or late sixties, early seventies
> of any kind. I, and an overwhelming number of undergraduates polled in a
> wholly unscientific survey, associate heavy metal with groups like Van
> Halen, White Snake, Anthrax, Megadeth, Deaf Jam, etc. The other
> association with heavy metal is the realm of comic books from the late
> seventies and early 80's. I guess, though, that comics entitled Heavy
> Metal end up being the dilemma of chicken and egg.
> There are at least two "historys" of the genre, probably now out of
> What have they said?