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early uses of "heavy metal" to describe Black Sabbath's music

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  • early uses of "heavy metal" to describe Black Sabbath's music

    Does anyone know what may have been the earliest, or at least an early use, of the term "heavy metal" to describe Black Sabbath? The term "heavy" was used first for Sabbath, and then "downer rock," but the term "heavy metal" didn't seem to come later for Sabbath although "heavy metal" had been in use to describe music for a few years already.

    Side note: if anyone is interested in the history of the term "heavy metal" as it's applied to music, there is fantastic article by Deena Weinstein called "Just So Stories: How Heavy Metal Got Its Name—A Cautionary Tale" in the first issue of Rock Music Studies.

  • #2
    A quick look through my notes show that I did this search before and at the time the earliest mention I could find was from the article 'A Dorito and a 7-Up Picnic with Black Sabbath' by Mike Saunders. It was published in the Warner Brothers Circular Vol 4 No 38, Monday September 25, 1972.

    I contacted Mike through email in the early 2000's and he verified that he made the whole thing up, there was no picnic with Black Sabbath, there was no card in copies of Master of Reality, he had written the article after looking at photos in the Warner Brothers archive and found some promo shots of them sitting at a picnic table and formulated the article around that. A few of those photos were included in the article.

    One of the paragraph headers is: 7-Up and Doritos with the Dark Princes of Heavy Metal

    That was my research at the time, more than 15 years ago, so it's possible there is an earlier mention that I am not aware of. Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Rollerjoint; 04-10-2020, 02:14 PM.

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    • #3

      Originally posted by Rollerjoint View Post
      A quick look through my notes show that I did this search before and at the time the earliest mention I could find was from the article 'A Dorito and a 7-Up Picnic with Black Sabbath' by Mike Saunders. It was published in the Warner Brothers Circular Vol 4 No 38, Monday September 25, 1972.

      I contacted Mike through email in the early 2000's and he verified that he made the whole thing up, there was no picnic with Black Sabbath, there was no card in copies of Master of Reality, he had written the article after looking at photos in the Warner Brothers archive and found some promo shots of them sitting at a picnic table and formulated the article around that. A few of those photos were included in the article.

      One of the paragraph headers is: 7-Up and Doritos with the Dark Princes of Heavy Metal

      That was my research at the time, more than 15 years ago, so it's possible there is an earlier mention that I am not aware of. Hope that helps.
      Thanks! That's the earliest one that I've been able to find as well. There was a Warner Bros. ad that advertised them as the "dark princes of heavy metal," but the earliest one I've been able to find is in a college newspaper on Nov. 6th. I've been wondering if WB took Saunders' rebranding of the existing "dark princes of downer rock" and put it in their ads, or if Saunders did that because that was in the promo ad. Sort of a chicken/egg thing for me right now. Both makes sense with Circular being WB's promo magazine.

      That's funny about making up the picnic story. Explains the "Being a slightly unreal and slightly real account" bit!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by nolanstolz View Post

        Thanks! That's the earliest one that I've been able to find as well. There was a Warner Bros. ad that advertised them as the "dark princes of heavy metal," but the earliest one I've been able to find is in a college newspaper on Nov. 6th. I've been wondering if WB took Saunders' rebranding of the existing "dark princes of downer rock" and put it in their ads, or if Saunders did that because that was in the promo ad. Sort of a chicken/egg thing for me right now. Both makes sense with Circular being WB's promo magazine.

        That's funny about making up the picnic story. Explains the "Being a slightly unreal and slightly real account" bit!
        I don't think I've ever seen the "dark princes of heavy metal" ad you mention. Great find. It does seem probable that each of those phrases used in an article was then used in an ad and that the 2nd phrase builds off of the first.

        1971 10 28 dark princes of downer rock (rolling stone article by robin green)
        1971 11 13 dark princes of downer rock (vertigo/chrysalis melody maker ad)
        1972 09 25 dark princes of heavy metal (warner brothers circular article by mike saunders)
        1972 11 06 dark princes of heavy metal (warner brothers ad)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Rollerjoint View Post
          I don't think I've ever seen the "dark princes of heavy metal" ad you mention. Great find. It does seem probable that each of those phrases used in an article was then used in an ad and that the 2nd phrase builds off of the first.

          1971 10 28 dark princes of downer rock (rolling stone article by robin green)
          1971 11 13 dark princes of downer rock (vertigo/chrysalis melody maker ad)
          1972 09 25 dark princes of heavy metal (warner brothers circular article by mike saunders)
          1972 11 06 dark princes of heavy metal (warner brothers ad)
          I found one predating the 9/25/72 one: in the August 1972 issue of Phonograph Record, Mike Saunders called Black Sabbath and other bands “Heavy Metal Wunderkind." That seems to be the earliest use of calling Black Sabbath "Heavy Metal."

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