And the answer: Ozzy Osbourne.
Put it up to 11! Most touring rock and metal musicians laugh, cringe, and agree that the mockumentary was true to life. However, Ozzy wasn’t laughing. "They seemed quite tame compared to what we got up to," he noted, once he learned that the film was fiction. At one point, IMDB users could rate This is Spinal Tap from 1-11—a reference to the film’s amps which surpass the standard maximum of 10.
Though it might have been popularized with the release of the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, metal is a subgenre of rock music with a long and significant history. In the late 1940s and 50s, rock-n-roll began to evolve and form into the recognizable music style we know today, taking influences from Black southern gospel music and jazz. Electric bass guitars and drum kits grew in popularity throughout the mid-1950s, which in turn influenced the “British Invasion” of the 1960s and brought forth a new genre of rock-n-roll, simply known as hard rock. The sound of hard rock was much heavier than earlier rock-n-roll, as artists like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix imbued intensity into the genre in a brand new way.
Finally, in the 70s, young British musicians were in the market for a new way to rock, and realized the inspiration lay right in front of them: metal. Industrial working class areas within the UK, specifically in northern and midland England, were home to a large number of metal and steel factories employed by younger workers. Early metal bands reference the sound of these factories as a direct influence on their music—as even Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton remarked on how the steel mill was always within audible distance.
Did you know?
Yesterday, November 11th, was National Metal Day! Founded by the 24 hour music network, VH1 Classic, National Metal Day originated on November 11, 2011 and was inspired by This is Spinal Tap (thus the holiday originally falling on 11/11/11). Learn more about the seminal mockumentary here, and more about the history of metal here.