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The first use of the term “heavy metal” is found in a song lyric by Steppenwolf in “Born to be Wild” in 1968: “I like smoke and lightning, Heavy metal thunder, Racin’ with the wind …”
The word “heavy” was a term used by the counter-culture to mean “serious or profound” and references to “heavy music” to depict the typically slower, more amplified variations of pop music that became common.
Iron Butterfly’s 1968 debut album was entitled simply “Heavy”. Led Zeppelin’s moniker was partly a reference to Keith Moon’s jest that the band would “go down like a lead balloon”
All these references to “weight” and “metal” created a label for that new form of music “Heavy Metal”. But it was Sandy Pearlman, the original producer, manager and songwriter for Blue Ayster Cult, who claims to have been the first person to label that new form of rock music genre as “Heavy Metal” to rock music jargon in 1970.
A widespread but disputed hypothesis about the origin of “Heavy Metal” was promoted by “Chas” Chandler, the manager of Jimi Hendrix in 1969 who stated that “heavy metal: was a term originated in a New York Times review of a Jimi Hendrix performance that stated it was “…like listening to heavy metal falling from the sky”.
Regardless of its origin, “Heavy Metal” was a label that was quickly adopted by the bands and their fans, and is now a true musical “genre”.