The Midlands ha a number of large conurbations and these areas have produced many rock bands over the years.
These mainly working class areas produce environments that were ideal for rock performers to emerge from. Black Sabbath were formed in Birmingham in 1968 and have been cited as the pioneers of heavy metal music. The original line up consisted of Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward and their first three albums released before the end of 1971, helped to create the genre of heavy metal music. Black Sabbath were formed in Birmingham in 1968 and have been cited as the pioneers of heavy metal music. The original line up consisted of Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward and their first three albums released before the end of 1971, helped to create the genre of heavy metal music. As well as playing hard the band partied hard, and lead singer Ozzie Osbourne left the band in 1979 due to issues related to his alcohol and drugs intake. As time progressed there were several other changes in the bands line up but they never lost the quality of the music they played. They have sold over 70 million albums around the world and were voted by MTV as the “Greatest Metal Band” of all time.
The Move were formed in 1965 and played their first live performances in the Birmingham area. They had 9 top 20 hits in the UK but failed to break into the US market. The band consisted of many strong personalities and three of the group, Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood and Bev Bevan left to form the Electric Light Orchestra. ELO were a fusion of “Beatlesque” pop and classical arrangements. By 1972 Wood had left the band to form Wizard and Jeff Lynne Wrote and produced every album. The band produced many top selling albums and hit singles. The band has sold over 50 million records and would have sold more had they had not split up in 1983, after Lynne became bored with the band.
UB40 are a pop and reggae group who were formed in 1978 in Birmingham. During their career they have had more than 50 hit singles and has sold over 70 million records. The make-up of the band reflected Birmingham’s cultural mix containing Jamaicans, English, Irish, Scottish and Yemeni’s. The title of the band was a reference to the form that people had to fill out when claiming unemployment benefit and they emerged at a time when the country was suffering from many people being out of work. The group had a couple of massive hit singles with “Red Red Wine” remaining in the UK charts for over 100 weeks, and “(I can’t help) Falling in Love With You” being a bigger success around the world. The group have been influential spreading reggae into the pop world and have performed twice at the Night of the Proms in London. As UB40 were the pioneers for multi-cultural music in Birmingham, the Specials were playing a similar role in nearby Coventry. Formed in 1977 the band were renowned for their dress wearing “mod style” outfits with pork pie hats, loafers and mohair suits. They were a ska band with heavy political influences particularly “rock against racism”. The band had a number of massive singles and between 1979 and 1981 they had 7 consecutive top 10 singles. The face of the band were Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers but they had their differences and in 1981 Hall, Neville Staple and Lynval Golding left to form Fun Boy Three. Although the band was to later reform and still play today, Jerry Dammers has not appeared since 1984. He was the inspiration in the creation of the hit singles “Too Much Too Young” and “Gangsters” but after leaving the band he concentrated his time on political activism and becoming a DJ. Dexy’s Midnight Runners were formed in the late 1970s in Birmingham. Led by lead singer Kevin Rowland the band mixed soul music with pop and had a couple of massive UK chart number 1 hits with “Come on Eileen” and “Geno”. The band broke up in 1987 after releasing three albums, but their hit singles had made a massive impact on the British music scene.
The Midlands has been influential in shaping rock music and during the late 1970s many of the topic acts and artists that appeared came from this area of the country.