Chapter 3

Heavy/Orchestrated Metal

The Second Wave, spanning years 1971 to 1979


In 1971, another change took place in London, England. Bands now had keyboards, synthesizers, violins, bass violins, oboes and sometimes even a full-blown orchestra.

The bands that started this revolution early in the music were: The Nice, Atomic Rooster, King Crimson were the very first frontrunners. Then came the next wave, only more refined: Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, E.L.O., YES. These bands opened the way for American bands: Kansas, Styx, America, and the list goes on to the present day.

In 1972 the first noticeable world-wide change in Orchestrated Metal was a hit album by a band called Emerson Lake and Palmer. It was their second album and the highest-grossing tour at that time for a three-piece band, consisting of keyboards, synthesizers, drums, vocals and guitars. The album was called TARKUS. It's the story of an armadillo tank. It takes place in a distant galaxy on a distant planet where everything is machines and organic combined. Thus the trippy artwork on the album cover.

The next orchestrated band broke through with an album called Roundabout. The name of the band was YES, and that was the debut of Rick Wakeman...

Next came Pink Floyd. Even though they had a number of earlier albums and shows done, it wasn't until Dark Side of the Moon that Floyd would become a major force in this music to the present. That album is the all-time best selling album throughout the world, is in the Guiness Book of World Records for an album that's over twenty years old and it's still in print and it's still selling in the millions.

Jethro Tull played at the Fillmore. That was the first time I saw a band with a flute player that fuckin' annihilated, man! They had their first album: "That Was". The band had a flute player and keyboards, but the flute player - Ian Anderson - IS Jethro Tull. The guy writes all the music, is the lead singer, the flute player, plays guitar, plays all the instruments, all the antics, all the voices, all the changes, he's the master story teller and showman.

I met the guy prior to seeing the band play. He sat at my table and we had homemade chili and cornbread and then smoked a bowl after dinner. The guy was dressed like he came out of the forest of Nottingham, had a thick, Welsh accent.


In the same early seventies, Heavy Metal was still underground but was starting to rear its ugly head. It was starting to be noticed. Led Zeppelin (so-named by Keith Moon of The Who, who told Jimmy Page that the name of his band would never fly and be a Lead Zeppelin. They were in Germany and Page wanted to call the band the New Yardbirds--let history speak for itself! Later they would be known as Led Zeppelin/the Hammer of the Gods) opened the doorway for bands with such names as Saxon, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest (the Kings and future Gods of Metal), The Scorpions and then UFO.

Even though there are a lot more bands that we could list and tell you about, it would fill up a large novel!

While this revolution was exploding in England and America, America was also discovering its own icons in both Orchestrated and Heavy Metal. The early guys for American Orchestrated Metal were Kansas, Styx, Starcastle/Boston and the list goes on...

Heavy Metal took a major turn with KISS, W.A.S.P., Overkill (1979), and popular bands like Aerosmith. And you also had AC/DC from Australia, and from Japan emerged Loudness (discovered by KISS bassist/demon Gene Simmons).

Some bands were more underground than others, inspiring cult-like devotion. One prime example is Soft White Underbelly, which evolved into the better-known Blue Öyster Cult.

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