A product of its time and environment in every conceivable way, Iron Claw is a now-obscure heavy rock group that was launched by a Led Zeppelin concert, which took its name from the first couplet of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man." They adopted the same earth-shaking primal stomp as Black Sabbath, but simply lacked the individuality and sheer talent common to all of those rock icons.
Hailing from the Scottish town of Dumfries, Iron Claw was founded in the summer of 1969 by bassist/vocalist Alex Wilson (he of the Led Zeppelin gig epiphany), guitarist Jimmy Ronnie, and drummer Ian McDougall, who initiated their trajectory by performing as a covers band tackling the heavy blues standards of the era, including popular numbers by Free, Taste, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter, and many others. But it was a second revelation experienced by Wilson later that year, when a nascent Black Sabbath brought their sonic solar eclipse to the band's neck of the woods (The Dumfries Youth Club, to be precise), that would set Iron Claw on the intended stylistic left-hand path which came to be known as heavy metal. So after bidding a definitive adieu to their power trio ambitions, the threesome welcomed singer Mike Waller into the fold and, by the spring of 1970, had effectively become the world's first Black Sabbath tribute band by incorporating that group's entire first album into their set! However, during rehearsals, Iron Claw immediately began composing original material in the image of their heroes, bringing the year to a close with a couple of demo recording sessions whose fruits the band proudly presented to the members of Black Sabbath at their next Newcastle concert -- only to later receive veiled threats of legal action from the metal godfathers' management because of the glaring similarities. Message received, Wilson took advantage of the fact that vocalist Waller had just given notice to replace him with two new members -- Wullie Davidson (vocals, harmonica, flute) and Donald McLachlan (second guitar) -- and take Iron Claw's sound in a different direction, marked by escalating art rock pretensions (think Wishbone Ash, Barclay James Harvest, Gentle Giant). Around this time, an interested label also gave Iron Claw access to a recording studio for the purpose of recording new demos, but the end results captured in the winter of 1971/1972 were often rounded out by ancillary studio musicians, became virtually impossible to reproduce in a live setting, and were ultimately unattractive to their would-be corporate suitors, in any case. And so Iron Claw, left to its own devices once again, continued to struggle along in fits and starts, next losing drummer McDougall in mid-1972 (he was replaced by one Neil Cockayne) and then gradually expanding their jams to dangerous thresholds of indulgence over the ensuing years until finally reaching a breaking point in 1974. Absolute obscurity followed, and although the group came together for a one-off reunion show in 1993, the only reason Iron Claw's existence is even remembered is because a selection of their best 16 demos was assembled for release on CD in 2009 by Rockadrome Records.