Black Sabbath Biography
Formed 1967, Birmingham, England
Mixing equal parts of bone-crushing volume, catatonic tempos, and ominous pronouncements of gloom and doom delivered in Ozzy Osbourne’s keening voice, Black Sabbath was the heavy-metal king of the Seventies. Despised by rock critics and ignored by radio programmers, the group sold over eight million albums before Osbourne departed for a solo career in 1979 [see entry].
The four original members, schoolmates from a working-class district of industrial Birmingham, first joined forces as Polka Tulk, a blues band. They quickly changed their name to Earth, then, in 1969, to Black Sabbath; the name came from the title of a song written by bassist Geezer Butler, a fan of occult novelist Dennis Wheatley. The quartet’s eponymously titled 1970 debut, recorded in two days, went to #8 in England and #23 in the U.S. A single, "Paranoid," released in advance of the album of the same name, reached #4 in the U.K. later that year, it was the group’s only Top Twenty hit.
The single didn’t make the US, Top Forty, but the Paranoid LP, issued in early 1971, eventually sold four million copies despite virtually no airplay. Beginning in December 1970 Sabbath toured the States relentlessly. The constant road work paid off, and by 1974 Black Sabbath was considered peerless among heavy-metal acts, its first five LPs all having sold at least a million copies apiece in America alone.
In spite of its name, the crosses erected onstage, and songs dealing with apocalypse, death, and destruction, the band members insisted their interest in the black arts was nothing more than innocuous curiosity (the sort that led Ozzy Osbourne to sit through eight showings of The Exorcist), and in time Black Sabbath’s princes-of-darkness image faded.
Eventually, so did its record sales. Aside from a platinum best-of, We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll (1976), not one of three LPs from 1975 to 1978 went gold. Osbourne, racked by drug use and excessive drinking, quit the band briefly in late 1977 (former Savoy Brown- Fleetwood Mac vocalist Dave Walker filled his shoes for some live dates). In January 1979 he left again, this time for good. Ronnie James Die, formerly of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, replaced Osbourne.
Although Dio could belt with the best of them, Sabbath would never be the same. Its first album with Dio, Heaven and Hell (1980), went platinum, its second, Mob Rules (1981), gold. But thereafter, the group’s LPs sold fewer and fewer copies, as Black Sabbath went through one personnel change after another. III health forced Bill Ward out of the band in 1981; Carmine Appice’s brother Vinnie took his place. Friction between Iommi and Dio led the singer to quit angrily in 1982, he took P with him to start his own band, Die. Vocalists over the years have included Dave Donato; Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan; Glenn Hughes, another ex-member of Purple; Tony Martin; and Dio again.
By 1986’s Seventh Star, only Iommi remained from the original lineup. He had to wince when Geezer Butler teamed up with the phenomenally successful Osboume in 1988, though the bassist did return to the fold three years later. Despite bitterness expressed in the press between Osbourne and Iommi, the original foursome reunited in 1985 at the Live-Aid concert in Philadelphia, and again in 1992, at the end of what was supposedly Osbourne’s last tour. Throughout 1993 word had it that Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, and Ward would tour, but by year’s end Osbourne had backed out, allegedly over money. The indefatigable Tony Iommi went right back to work with Butler, rehiring vocalist Tony Martin and adding former Rainbow drummer Rob Rondinelli.
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New year's evil 2001 | Reviewer: Hell Rat | 5/13/13
I saw all 4 original members of Black Sabbath perform live at Bank One ballpark in Phoenix AZ on New years eve 2001. The show was titled New Year's evil and the line up was Soulfly, Megadeth, Slayer, Pantera and Black Sabbath.
You fans missed a front man that replaced Ozzie that needs mention | Reviewer: Robert Foxx | 6/13/12
A very talented vocalist from New Jersey, then in a line up name Quest. Ray Gillian (RIP) replaced Ozzie on a spur of the moment rant back stage one night at Madison Square Garden when Ozzie quit or Tony fired him. Ray had back stage passes that night and someone mentioned that he was available and knew the lyrics.
So, with no rehearsal Ray took center stage instead of Ozzie.
Ray performed flawlessly and stayed with Black Sabbath for a short while. He later became the front man for Badlands. Which was a hard drivi'n band in it's own right.
Hey, hey, My, my Rock N Roll will ne'er die!
Lame Review | Reviewer: V | 5/8/12
"Friction between Iommi and Dio led the singer to quit angrily in 1982, he took P with him to start his own band, Die."
Wow dude do you even know what your talking about? I didn't think Dio was a hard word to spell.
"Although Dio could belt with the best of them, Sabbath would never be the same. Its first album with Dio, Heaven and Hell (1980), went platinum, its second, Mob Rules (1981), gold. But thereafter, the group’s LPs sold fewer and fewer copies, as Black Sabbath went through one personnel change after another. III health forced Bill Ward out of the band in 1981."
Dio was technically a way better singer than Ozzy, the fans still liked Sabbath with Dio. Also, Bill Ward was a drunk, that's not a ill health, its self-induced stupidity. He said it himself.
1996 Reunion | Reviewer: christopheRobin | 9/25/11
There was also a 1996 reunion of the original band - I know I this because I saw them that year. Ozzy did a set with his own band and then he did a full set with Sabbath, unlike 92 where they only did 4 songs. It may have been an early Ozzfest - I saw them in San Bernardino CA
and darkness decended | Reviewer: johnny blade | 2/19/11
Black Sabbath are the bloody roots of heavy metal! There is a long history of this band. The latest release was under the band name Heaven and Hell. With Dio back in front, with Iommi, Butler, and appice all back. The Devil You Know is a kick ass metal album. Since the Dio has passed away (RIP). There is talk underway to reunite the original lineup of Osborne , Iommi, Butler and ward.
WooooW =O | Reviewer: Rodolfo | 5/16/08
Los fundadores del Metal tal y como no lo conocemos hoy en dia
si se hacia buena musica hace 40,30 y 20 años
pero oh! cruel destino
La Música se ha perdido, pero aqui hay alguien q esta esperando q no haya sido para siempre
The beginning | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/6/07
The true fathers of heavy metal, these guys brought everything dark into the music. Long live Sabbath!
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