“Best piece of documentation on my band done by an author or journalist. 
Thank you Paul Merry.” Nick J Townsend, WEAK13.


First there was blues, but only after:
Ethiopian delineating in the
1820s and 30s
Minstrelsy from the 1840s to
The abominably-named coon songs
of the 1880s and 1890s
Ragtime between the 1890s and
This is because blues, of course, didn’t spring up fully-formed overnight, as my book How Blues Evolved explains. Out of blues, as Muddy Waters sang, came its baby, rock & roll, in the 1930s, 40s and 50s; and out of rock and roll, via race music and rhythm & blues, came rock in the 1960s.
The power trio who started heavy metal, Cream.
The UK power trio, Cream, made rock heavy in 1966, with their thundering riffs and drums, and Clapton’s dynamic blues-based guitar, and when Cream disbanded, session
guitar ace, Jimmy Page, immediately spotted the gap in the market.

Page founded Led Zeppelin in 1968 especially to fill the massive void left by Cream’s departure. Zeppelin, of course, went on to wow the world with their powerful brand of blues rock.

That same year, 1968, another pioneering
heavy rock band was formed, Black Sabbath, who rate, along with Led Zeppelin,
as the founding fathers of heavy metal.
Considering half of Zeppelin came from
around Birmingham in England’s West Midlands, as did all of Sabbath, one wonders
why rock music from Birmingham is so powerful. Some say metal’s in the psyche
there.  The sound comes from the non-stop
banging of anvils and steam hammers from the days when Birmingham was known as
the workshop of the (British) Empire; and the area around it was called the
Black Country on account of its smokestacks, soot and smog.

Samuel Sydney in the nineteenth century described the Black Country as a place where no birds were seen and ‘furnaces continually smoke, steam-engines thud and hiss, and long chains clank’. The author David Smith in his latest books writes about the sound of the Black Country. ‘Think of a giant drum kit, a slow bass beat interspersed with a high-hat, at maximum volume, and you have something like it’.

A year after Black Sabbath thundered out
of Birmingham (see the Brummie Blues post in April’s archive), Judas Priest
also formed in Brum to crank out more heavy metal. Six years later, Lemmy Kilmister,
from nearby Stoke-on-Trent, founded Motorhead, sparking phase two of the genre.

It’s been a while, but now I’ve noticed
another heavy metal band from England’s West Midlands is making a bit of a noise
or, should I say, creating a truckload of it. Like Cream, the band who started it all, this outfit is also a hard rock power trio.
Hailing from the ancient traditional
carpet town of Kidderminster, 17 miles from Birmingham, WEAK13 isn’t so much
garage rock as industrialized factory mash. Founder, main songwriter and frontman,
Nick J. Townsend, must have

Power trio WEAK13 with Nick J. Townsend centre.

the most eccentric haircut in rock, having shaved
off half of his beard and shoulder-length hair in 1999 as a protest against
society. He sings like he’s protesting against society, too, with a voice sometimes reminiscent of AC/DC’s original singer, the late, great (but
tiny) Bon Scott.

Nick looks twice the size of little Bon (a Scottish-born Aussie) and
you can have a look at Nick with WEAK13, and check out their music and videos, by clicking on their official Australian WEAK13
fansite link now.
Why their fan club’s based in Australia
I don’t know but WEAK13 also have a following in the USA, having appeared on
American heavy metal-themed TV show InsaniTV a couple of times.
WEAK13 are also graced with an S&M themed dancer, Mistress Satine, pictured left, and the band often put a bound-and-gagged ‘Sex Pest’ front of stage, which handily ties in (pun intended) with one of their better known songs, ‘Sex Pest’.
Again, you can catch WEAK13’s strikingly theatrical stage show by logging onto their fan club link above.
Talking about Australia (as we were a paragraph back), the only band I
know who matches WEAK13 for grinding industrial rock is Nick Cave’s Grinderman
from Down Under. If you like your rock rock-hard, take a listen to this one,
And, should you be interested in finding out how this wonderful music of ours started its long journey to what’s happening now, please follow the links to the book How Blues Evolved below.
U.K. How Blues Evolved link