Rockin' out to 'Harry Potter'

Times Staff Writer

Long before the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" films catapulted fantasy out of the realm of geekdom and made images of sword and sorcery palatable to the masses, rock 'n' rollers were finding inspiration in dragon-inhabited kingdoms -- or bats out of hell. And not just fringe, underground acts, either.

"Everyone's happy when the wizard walks by," declared Ozzy Osbourne on the second track of Black Sabbath's self-titled debut, a song that's either about "Lord of the Rings" mage Gandalf or a drug dealer, depending on whom is asked. Earlier, Led Zeppelin had more overtly dived into the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, giving the world a reference to the ring-enslaved Gollum in "Ramble On." Hard rock and metal acts aren't the only ones who got in on the action: Geeky rockers Weezer celebrated the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons on their 1994 debut album.

So it's no surprise that a new generation of rockers would take to the "Harry Potter" novels. It's been estimated that more than 200 bands are exploring "wizard rock," the subgenre devoted to the alternate world that is home to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We're not counting, but there are enough bands out there to warrant a dedicated website and an in-the-works documentary.

But are any of the wizard rockers striking rock 'n' roll magic, or are they just some muggles in need of guitar lessons? We troll the Web to take a listen.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World