Monday, March 29, 2010

Heavy Metal Britannia

A few weeks ago BBC Four had a heavy metal weekend with the Program Heavy Metal Britannia.  I watched and really enjoyed it.  Here is what the program is about.

It was a very interesting program especially of you like metal or rock guitar.  It went into the history of British Metal.

The first section was on the beginnings of metal.  First sounds of metal from blues rock artists.  Songs like The Kinks, You Really Got Me (which Van Halen and others have since covered).  The guitarist of the Kinks, Dave Davies (his real name) said he put a screwdriver through the paper cone of his guitar map to get the distorted sound.  It went on to Jimi Hendrix and Vanilla Fudge, Caravan and heavy blues rock artists like the Yardbirds.

Next was a section on the first metal bands.  They chatted to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and a welsh band called Budgie.  They came from a dank dark industrial British landscape of coalmines and British Steel. They had a choice of working in a factory, mine or doing music.  There is some good footage of this life gone by.

Not mentioned was that Black Sabbath's guitarist Toni Iommi had an accident in a steel mill press where he lost the tip of his finger.  This was the day before he was leaving the job to become a professional musician. He was inspired to play again by listening to jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who also had a left hand injury but continued playing guitar. 

The older band members chatted about how they got their sound and pioneering the whole metal movement.  It was interesting to hear Jon Lord of Deep Purple say it took three albums and several years before they settled on a sound and identity.  They all lived in industrial areas and the industrial sounds influenced and leeched into their music.   Note: None of them claim to be Heavy Metal, they all say they are Heavy Rock, Hard Rock or Heavy Blues.  Notably Led Zeppelin was missing from the program.

They toured in vans going to Working Men's clubs.  KK Downing of Judas Priest describes how one time they got paid one time, not to play they were so loud and heavy.  No one knew what this type of music was then.

The Punk era came along and this saw the rise of Motorhead (who toured with The Damned).  The Metal bands survived but as Biff Byford of Saxon said, they liked and picked up on the energy of Punk.  The New wave of British Heavy Metal came at the end of seventies.  These band members grew up in a different era, one of strikes, 3 day weeks and winters of discontent.  The days of coal mining and steel works were disappearing.

The kids also had their own club.  The Heavy Metal Soundhouse at the Bandwagon run by Neal Kay.  Neal was on the program chatting, he mentioned Rob Loonhouse inventor of the Air Guitar.  Rob came in one weekend with a replica of a guitar.  Someone asked Rob why it had no frets.  Rob replied that it didn't need them as it had no strings.

This section, The Beast looked at Saxon who came first.  They were first ones who had chart hits.  Biff says when they played Top of the Pops (the British BBC chart show) other artists had champagne, a green room and red carpets.  They pulled up to the back door in a taxi.

The also had Iron Maiden, probably the most successful band of NWOBHM.  Charting their career from the start up to their number 1 album, The Number of the Beast.  They chatted to Bruce who described the first time he saw them with Paul Di Anno singing and how he thought he could do so much with that band.

On the other side they chatted to the Diamond Head guitarist Brian Tatler.  They influenced Metallica.  Lars Ulrich followed them on tour and slept on their couch.  Diamond Head wondered why they weren't getting signed.  When they did they missed the boat.

Of course in the program there were loads of musical clips of each band to accompany the program and chart the history of the rise of British Metal.  If you get a chance to watch the program please do.  Certainly Heavy Metal Britannia was an educational program in a good way.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rock Guitar lesson Website

I have a website called Playing Rock Guitar Lessons which I have been working on now for a few months. 
Click on the link below, if you want to check it out or you can read on for mor info. www. Playing Rock Guitar .com

I have added a lot of good material to it.  I have also began promoting the site and it getting quite a few visitor  and feedback now.

It has lots of info and tips on getting started on playing Guitar.  Picking the right guitar, pedals and amp.  How to approach learning rock guitar.

Advice on getting the right sound for Rythm, lead and a clean rock guitar sound.  Guitar Tabs and Videos and more.  It also has advice on progressing your guitar playing.  Something useful for everyone from beginners up.

Click the link below if you want to visit the site,
www. Playing Rock Guitar .com

Hope you enjoy it.  Please drop back and let me know what you think or leave a comment on the site.  I will be happy to hear from you.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Britannia again

Following the Heavy Metal and Blues weekend, this time it is turn of Prog Rock.
BBC Four has this on tonight.
Prog Rock Britannia: An Observation in Three Movements
It features Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Jethro Tull to the trials and tribulations of lesser-known bands such as Caravan and Egg.  The three movements are the birth, the rise and the decline of prog rock.
There were some great guitar players so well worth checking it out.

There is also two more shows for the weekend.  A live archive show, Prog Rock at the BBC and an hour long interview with Phil Collins about Genesis.

On Sunday night there is Synth Britannia, charting the rise of post punk new romantics like Gary Numan up to New Order and the Pet Shop Boys.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blues Weekend declared in Britain

Following the Heavy Metal Guitar weekend last week, this weekend it is the Blues guitar on BBC Four on the UK.

The Blues guitar weekend kicks off with a program,
- Blues Britannia: Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?
It has three sections.  The fifties with the arrival of the blues with the likes of Muddy Waters.  The sixties and the birth of British blues with The Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds.  The end of the sixties where Eric Clapton and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac emerged.

Peter Green - Fleetwood Mac

Then there is Blues at the BBC which is archive live fooatge.
Featuring The Kinks, the unmistakable electric sound of BB King and Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and John Lee Hooker, as well as less-familiar material from the likes of Delaney and Bonnie, Freddie King and Long John Baldry.

Again worth setting you video, TIVO or DVD recorder.  The programs are repeated all weekend and on BBC iPlayer for a month afterwards.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Playing Rock Guitar at

I recently put up a hubpage for playing rock guitar on

I have on it tips and advice on the first steps you should take when taking up rock guitar.

I also have an exclusive beginner rock guitar lesson tab.  The tab riff is played two different ways.
One way is for the total beginner to get them started with plucking and fretting notes and to pick up the ryhthm.
The other way the riff is shown is the way the riff should be played once you master the total beginner riff.

I then have the next steps as you learn to play rock guitar and some usefull guitar resources.
Click the link below to visit the hubpage and you can leave a comment if you want.
Playing Rock Guitar Hubpage


Friday, March 5, 2010

Heavy Metal Weekend declared in Britain

The British have declared this weekend a Heavy Metal weekend.  It is not often the stiff British Broadcasting Corporation supports Heavy Metal, but when they do, they get into it 100% and they do it in style.  Years ago they had a Heavy Metal Christmas (called Heavy Metal Heaven) with Slayer and Metallica now it is the turn of the UK bands that influenced them.

BBC Four (a British digital TV station) are having loads of British Heavy Metal programs this week.  It kicked off last night (Thurs) with Iron Maiden's latest movie Flight 666.  This was the documentary that they shot last year as they flew around the world in a Jet flown by lead singer Bruce Dickinson.  It continues tonight with 60 minutes of concert footage from the Somewhere Back in Time Tour with three of the best metal guitarists and the best bassist live.

The flagship program has got be Heavy Metal Britannia. This traces the origins of British Heavy Metal from the Industrial cities and Working Men's clubs with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.  Through the 70's with Judas Priest up to the 80's and New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) with the likes of Iron Maiden.  You will find that the British side of metal is a lot darker and less glossy than the American stories.  They British rockers are very proud of their Metal bands and support them strongly (but quietly) by going to all the concerts they can.

There is also another program, Heavy Metal Britannia at the BBC.  This is BBC live archive footage of bands like, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest.  The BBC have had all the big bands play for them at some stage and there will be some rare and great footage shown.

Black Sabbath in the 1970's

It finishes off with two episodes of Rock Family Trees.  Friday night is Black Sabbath and Sunday night is Deep Purple.  These two bands influenced everyone from Miden to Metallica and Korn.  Especially Tony Iommi's guitar playing which inspired legions to learn to play rock guitar.  The two bands have had members float between them like David Coverdale, DIO, Ian Gillian, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Ozzy and so on.  Sure to be informative and good rock music to watch.

The bulk of the programs are on Friday night the 5th March and are repeated over the weekend.  All are shown again on Sunday the 7th.

Click the link below to find out more from the BBC Four website.
BBC Four Heavy Metal Britannia

If you miss that see if you can see them on the BBC iPlayer, it keeps all programs shown for a month or so.  You can find it also on the BBC website above.

Hope you get checking it and enjoy it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Guitar Ebook

This is another guitar ebook I have on

This one is an introduction to my Rock Guitar website. It introduced the site and gives its plans for the future. Again it is free to read and free to register and download the Guitar PDF ebook.

Click on the link below:
Scribd Introduction

I will post a guitar tab ebook next (as soon as I get it put together), so keep and eye out.

Thanks as always,