Jack Black has been flying the heavy metal flag in the mainstream for nearly 30 years. It’s time we gave him his flowers.

Jack Black making the devil horns hand gesture onstage in 2023
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for CinemaCon)

When Slayer played their final show on November 30, 2019, a star-studded legion of celebrities joined the 17,000 fans in attendance to send them off in style. Members of Metallica, King Diamond, Anthrax and other metal stars were joined by Hollywood heavyweights like Jason Momoa, Bill Burr and even Post Malone. They are among a relatively exclusive but committed group of famous headbangers: those insta-recognisable faces who prefer their riffs massive and their volumes at 11.

However, few celebrities wear their love for heavy metal on their sleeve as proudly, or as loudly, as Jack Black. The multi-talented actor, comedian and musician's adoration for metal isn’t just a temporary interest or an aesthetic accessory – it’s part of his entire worldview. If you analysed Black’s DNA, you’d likely find it riddled with hand-drawn pentagrams and Dio lyrics.

Black first landed on the cultural radar with Tenacious D: his acoustic metal duo with guitarist and fellow actor Kyle Gass. Formed in 1994, the tandem might well be the most celebrated living homage to metal in pop culture. With four comedy albums packed with slamming tracks like Tribute and The Metal, The D doesn’t parody metal culture – they raucously celebrate it. Their songs are crafted with meticulous attention to detail, from intricate guitar solos to pounding hooks and soaring vocals that would make even the most seasoned metal frontmen envious.

Partial credit to Metallica for the inspiration. In 2023, Black told Metal Hammer:Really, the first song that we bonded over, that I played for Kyle and was like, ‘Check this out, this is the best song in the world,’ it was Metallica’s One and maybe there was some Metallica infused in our early days and maybe that translated to us having Metallica in our veins.”

The metal community have rapturously embraced The D: the band have toured the world, played insane European metal festivals and even picked up a Grammy in 2015 for Best Metal Performance, thanks to their cover of Dio’s The Last In Line. Speaking to Metal Hammer in 2023, Black clarified his band’s ethos thusly: “We’re not Simon and Garfunkel, OK? We’re fucking Black Sabbath!”

Black’s authenticity as a metalhead is underscored by the genuine friendships and collaborations he’s enjoyed with several heavy music legends. Whether it’s Dave Grohl drumming on Tenacious D’s albums or their touching tributes to Ronnie James Dio, Black’s place within the metal pantheon is unquestionable. They’ve opened for Tool and Metallica, not just because they’re funny, but because they bring serious musical chops to the table, including Black’s cavernous vocals. He’s not just a fan; he’s a peer.

Black also rarely passes up an opportunity to spread the gospel. From interviews to award show appearances, the star revels in flashing the horns and belting out metal lyrics. His shout-out to Dio at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, where he called the legendary metal vocalist “one of the pioneers of metal”, was not only a nod to a metal icon but a clear message of his own alignment with the community. Then there’s the time he sang War Pigs on The Tonight Show in 2011 and absolutely crushed it. More recently, for the 100th birthday of Tom Morello’s mom, Black gathered a band of 12- and 13-year-olds and uncorked a ripping cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s Mr Crowley.

Then there’s Black’s acting career. Across his sprawling filmography, his commitment to metal appears in the guise of characters like Dewey Finn from School Of Rock: a down-on-his-luck musician who educates his students in the sounds, history and mythology of metal. Side-stepping the lowbrow cliches that often dog metal in film, School Of Rock succeeded in large part because, as the film’s lovable protagonist, Black authentically conveyed his headbanging passions through his character.

While many celebrities might don the leather jacket, sport the occasional band tee or flash the horns in a calculated attempt to seem edgy, Black’s love for metal is not about looking the part. It’s about being the part. His knowledge about the genre, his ability to cite obscure bands, albums, and tracks makes it abundantly clear that this is not a surface-level fascination. It’s a deep-rooted passion.

In the glittering world of showbiz, where personas can often be curated and commercialised, Jack Black shines as a beacon of authenticity. His love for metal is a profound part of who he is. It resonates in his work, his interactions and his genuine enthusiasm when discussing the genre. In an age of fleeting trends, Black remains steadfast in his commitment to metal, making him not just a fan, but a genuine torchbearer for the genre.

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.