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Heavy Metal Kids: A Historiographical Exploration of Australian Proto-Heavy Metal in the 1960s–1970s1

Australian Metal Music: Identities, Scenes, and Cultures

ISBN: 978-1-78769-168-1, eISBN: 978-1-78769-167-4

Publication date: 4 June 2019


The key characteristics that eventually came to be considered to be Australian ‘heavy metal’ emerged between 1965 and 1973. These include distortion, power, intensity, extremity, loudness and aggression. This exploration of the origins of heavy metal in Australia focusses on the key acts which provided its domestic musical foundations, and investigates how the music was informed by its early, alcohol-fuelled early audiences, sites of performance, media and record shops. Melbourne-based rock guitar hero Lobby Loyde’s classical music influence and technological innovations were important catalysts in the ‘heaviness’ that would typify Australian proto-metal in the 1960s. By the early 1970s, loud and heavy rock was firmly established as a driving force of the emerging pub rock scene. Extreme volume heavy rock was taken to the masses was Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs in the early 1970s whose triumphant headline performance at the 1972 Sunbury Pop Festival then established them as the most popular band in the nation. These underpinnings were consolidated by three bands: Sydney’s primal heavy prog-rockers Buffalo (Australia’s counterpart to Britain’s Black Sabbath), Loyde’s defiant Coloured Balls and the highly influential AC/DC, who successfully crystallised heavy Australian rock in a global context. This chapter explores how the archaeological foundations for Australian metal are the product of domestic conditions and sensibilities enmeshed in overlapping global trends. In doing so, it also considers how Australian metal is entrenched in localised musical contexts which are subject to the circulation of international flows of music and ideas.



Oldham, P.‘. (2019), "Heavy Metal Kids: A Historiographical Exploration of Australian Proto-Heavy Metal in the 1960s–1970s1", Hoad, C. (Ed.) Australian Metal Music: Identities, Scenes, and Cultures (Emerald Studies in Metal Music and Culture), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 19-35.



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Copyright © 2019 Paul ‘Nazz’ Oldham