Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler has claimed that ‘heavy metal’ was a sarcastic term before being embraced by musicians of the genre. Butler’s comments come from a new interview in which the musician seems to suggest that, like ‘punk’, the term ‘heavy metal’ was initially derogatory.
During an interview with Eddie Trunk, Butler recalled: “When we were on tour in America — I think it was the second tour in the [United] States — I read this review, and the guy said, ‘This isn’t music; it sounds like a bunch of heavy metal being smashed together.
“Somehow that got over to England,” he continued, “And from then on it was like the sarcastic thing they used to apply to us — ‘this isn’t music, it’s a load of heavy metal being smashed together.’ And for some reason we got stuck with it.”
There’s still much debate surrounding who coined the term. Some have argued that the name first appeared in the opening verse of Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild’, in which Tommy Holland sings: “I like smoke and lightnin’ / Heavy metal thunder.”
Geezer also opened up about the origins of Black Sabbath’s classic song ‘Iron Man’, confirming that the life of Jesus Christ inspired the lyrical content: “It was sort of based on Jesus Christ,” Butler said. “He’s like, this guy and goes and does good, and then he comes and tries to spread the word and ends up being crucified for telling the truth.”
The bassist added: “And that was Iron Man seeing the future and coming back to tell the world how horrible it’s gonna be, and people turn against him. Whereas Jesus died to save people, Iron Man takes his revenge. That’s the big difference.”
You can listen to the full interview below.