Tracing the origins of metal is a phantasmagoric odyssey that traverses cities and countries, oceans and continents. For Sam Dunn, stop #1 on this heavy metal pilgrimage is the birthplace of Metal's indisputable progenitor, rock 'n' roll: namely...... Read Full Episode Summary »
Tracing the origins of metal is a phantasmagoric odyssey that traverses cities and countries, oceans and continents. For Sam Dunn, stop #1 on this heavy metal pilgrimage is the birthplace of Metal's indisputable progenitor, rock 'n' roll: namely Memphis, Tennessee, home of Sun Studio. From there, Sam will cross the Atlantic, sketching the development of rock, uncovering the dawn of Metal's central ingredient, the power chord, through a young band called The Kinks, with their formative smash, "You Really Got Me." The earliest sounds of Metal will be revealed-the guitar innovators of fuzz and distortion-who played them and how these sounds were generated, while fresh and candid conversations with proto-metal icons like Pete Townshend and Jeff Beck will enlighten us every step of the way. Sam will visit the holy shrines of early Metal-Detroit's Grande Ballroom, The Roundhouse, and The Marquee Club-temples where proto-metallers like Hendrix and Cream armed with new, more powerful Marshall stacks and P.A. systems, honed their craft before increasingly fanatical audiences desperate for an antidote to the faux-utopian ideals of the hippie ethos.But there is more to the seeds of Metal than mere rock 'n' roll. Sam will go back in time, to the 17th century, where Baroque composer J.S. Bach, mesmerized patrons with his spellbinding musical virtuosity, much like Metal giants Eddie Van Halen and Kirk Hammett do today. Sam will also explore the Sturm and Drang of Beethoven, Haydn and Wagner, finding parallels in the unyielding power and dynamism of Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, and Deep Purple. He'll trace the life of the first "rock star," Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini, an 18th century Jimmy Page, who, legend has it, sold his soul to the devil for money, fame and.chicks. Yes, the Devil; He has His role in the leather-clad embryo of Metal. The tritone, said to be the reverberation of the Devil Himself, is a restless dissonant musical creation, conjured in the Middle Ages, and later becoming a cornerstone of Metal music, first invoked in Hendrix's anthem, "Purple Haze." Uncovering its shadowy legend, the myths, and the fears, Sam, like a skinny long-haired Michael Moore, will pester Vatican officials, toy with Satanists and patronize some of the most egg-headed musicologists you'll ever want to meet, to get to the truth behind this diabolus in musica.But, the Devil's influence on Metal didn't end in the 18th century. He also perches on the shoulder of another inescapable root of Metal, namely 20th century American blues. With its themes of hardship combined with a music jammed with haunting repetitive phrasing, blues plugs into the same raw, somber tenor as Metal. Sam will stand at the crossroads of Highways 8 and 1 daring the Devil or Robert Johnson to come and tune his double-neck, or simply offer him a deal he can't refuse. And finally, Sam will return to the late 1960s to investigate the timing of the rise of Metal, an era of Vietnam, race riots, the Manson murders, not to mention the dying embers of psychedelia, a genre that inspired a new kind of dark and angry sound housed within the single most important Heavy Metal band of all time, Black Sabbath, and the prime subject of Episode 2 of Metal Evolution: The Series.