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Watch legendary US stand-up Richard Pryor invent ‘Black Death’ metal… in 1977

Richard Pryor was many things: comic genius, thorn in the side of the establishment, all-round cultural trailblazer.

You can add ‘unlikely rock star’ to that list. Cos in 1977, Pryor cooked up an absolutely nutso sketch on his short-lived TV show in which he fronted a rock band named Black Death, playing in front of a baying audience while kitted out in the kind of OTT regalia that made Kiss look like a bunch of saggy-arsed pensioers who had stumbled onstage in their slippers and Y-fronts.

OK, the premise of the sketch is kind of thin - Pryor struts his stuff while the band play behind him for the best part of seven minutes. Despite the name, Black Death’s music is heavied-up funk that won’t give Deicide any sleepless nights. And we have a sneaking suspicion that he might just be taking the piss…

Still, for all that it’s got some serious metal cred going for it. Check out the way Pryer descends from the ceiling in giant frightwig’n’batwings combo. Or the way he throws around his Flying V like he’s wrestling an alligator with an itchy arsecrack (OK, he might be miming). And the dudes in cowls playing next to him? If Tobias Forge didn’t rip off the idea for Ghost, then we’re packing up and going home right now.

Best of all is Pryor giving it large with some proto-death grunts as he gives the audience the evil eye. Towards the end, he snarls, “I’m gonna kill all of you,” before smashing his guitar and strafing the audience with fake machine gun fire, leaving a pile of bloodies bodies.

Forget burning down a few churches – that’s some dark shit.

Metal Hammer
Metal Hammer

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