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BLACK SABBATH

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Biography

Cited by many to be THE original Heavy Metal band, BLACK SABBATH has had a massive influence on the genre and have sold countless millions of albums. BLACK SABBATH, steered into their chosen doom / occult leanings by bassist and songwriter Geezer Butler, impose an enormous legacy upon the Heavy Metal scene. Guitarist Tony Iommi has laid down many of the classic all time riffs and is a versatile Blues inspired musician revered as a guitar hero despite having lost the tips to his ring and middle fingers from his fretboard hand in a 1966 guillotine machine accident, which nearly put paid to his chosen career. Until 1978 the band was fronted by the irrepressible Ozzy Osbourne. Now renowned as one of the true legends of Metal from his BLACK SABBATH years and his subsequent, massively successful solo career Osbourne's trademark vocal and outrageous on and off stage behaviour have gained the Brummie true Rock idol status.

1966 - July 1969

Created in the heart of industrial Birmingham, by a skinhead vocalist then known as Ozzy Zig (a.k.a. John Michael Osbourne), guitarist Anthony Frank 'Tony' Iommi, bass player Terry 'Geezer' Butler and drummer Bill Ward first united, albeit briefly, under the name POLKA TULK BLUES BAND. Iommi was still coming to terms with his accident, which rather ironically had ocurred on the very last day of his employment. Just prior to this his first real band unit had been THE ROCKIN' CHEVROLETS's, a sharp suited Rock n' Roll quintet seeing the guitarist alongside vocalist Neil Cressin, second guitarist Alan Meredith, bass player Dave Whaddley and drummer Pat Pegg.

Osbourne's first attempts at singing came just after leaving school when, together with guitarist Jimmy Phillips, he founded the short-lived act THE PROSPECTORS. Post THE ROCKIN' CHEVROLETS, Iommi had teamed up with Ward in THE REST, a band fronted by ex-METHOD FIVE vocalist Chris Smith and bassist Neil Marshall. The group, having undergone numerous personnel changes, later changed its name to MYTHOLOGY. It was here that Iommi's perseverence with hand made plastic fingertips, ingeniously crafted from a melted Fairy Liquid bottle, gave renewed hope that he could perform once again. Heavy Metal's most inspirational guitarist drew his own fortitude from Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, a deft and innovative musician that had suffered a far worse injury to his hand in an accident.

Osbourne and Butler, the latter a rhythm guitarist at this point, were members of RARE BREED, a 1966 act that lasted a mere two gigs. RARE BREED also involved lead guitarist Roger Hope, bassist Mike Hill and drummer Tony Markham. Previous to this, Osbourne had stints with local bands THE BLACK PANTHERS and APPROACH before replacing one John Butcher as singer for RARE BREED. Famously, Osbourne had scored the RARE BREED position with an advertisment in a local record store that read 'Ozzy Zig - vocalist - Looking for a band - Owns own P.A.' Osbourne's other credentials saw him having served a six week term of a three month sentence in the foreboding Winson Green prison for burglary. Having been caught robbing stockings from the Sarah Clarke clothing shop in Aston, Ozzy was given a fine, which because he could not afford to pay and his father refused to help him with, he was duly jailed. It was during his incarceration at her Majesty's pleasure that the singer gave himself his now famous 'Ozzy' and smiley face tattoos by rubbing floor cleaning paste into his skin.

RARE BREED soldiered on until the Summer of 1968, putting in a swansong gig on 13th July 1968 in Siloth. The Osbourne / Iommi / Butler / ward axis first gelled when MYTHOLOGY lost both singer and drummer. With the recruitment of Osbourne and Ward, MYTHOLOGY changed its title to MUSIC MACHINE adding saxophonist Alan 'Aker' Clark and Jimmy Phillips on slide guitar. Before long MUSIC MACHINE became the POLKA TULK BLUES BAND and conducted their debut gig on 24th August 1968 at the County Ballroom in Carlisle supported by CREEQUE. Their next gig, at the Workington Banklands Youth Club, would be the last under that title. Upon their return, the group ousted Phillips and Clark, trimming down to a quartet, with Butler adopting a new role as bass player by taking two strings off his Fender lead guitar. Subsequently, Phillips would go onto become a keyboard player performing with PURPLE ONION, FROG and MAGIC ROUNDABOUT.

Within a short space of time the revised band had altered their moniker to the shortened to POLKA TULK before another name change was enforced, the foursome becoming the EARTH BLUES BAND and subsequently simply EARTH, rehearsing at Newtown community centre in Aston. Once again the band debuted in Carlisle, appearing at the Gretna Tavern in late September of 1968. However, following an EARTH support slot to JETHRO TULL in Stafford On Trent, Tony Iommi was poached into the ranks of the headlining act. Iommi actually left to join JETHRO TULL for all of two weeks, to replace the departed Mick Abrahams.

Although the guitarist's stay in JETHRO TULL was brief he did appear with the band at the legendary ROLLING STONES 'Rock n' Roll Circus' film session, recorded at Internel Studios in Stonebridge Park, Wembley during December. Iommi and Anderson did not gel and upon completion of rehearsals for the 'Rock n' Roll Circus' he would quit. The guitarist returned for the day of filming but upon asking to be re-instated discovered he had already been replaced. After a short liaison with THE NICE guitarist David O'List, JETHRO TULL found a permanent replacement in Martin Barre. With Iommi reinstated EARTH got back to gigging, returning to Carlisle's County Ballroom on 21st December.

The band signed up to a management deal with Jim Simpson's Big Bear Management during 1969. Simpson owned the legendary Birmingham haunt Henry's Blues House and managed nationally known acts such as BAKERLOO, TEA & SYMPHONY, his own LOCOMOTIVE band and later was to manage fellow brummies JUDAS PRIEST. EARTH had already put in an appearance in the capitol with a batch of gigs at the legendary Marquee club, commencing in January of 1969. Unfortunately their first appearance was nearly their last as they were banned by the management until TEN YEARS AFTER guitarist ALVIN LEE scored a reprieve for the band. Their first taste of Europe came when Simpson booked a tour of Germany. The shows included a ten date residency at Hamburg's infamous Star Club, the once famous haunt of THE BEATLES, before a return for more UK gigs including a date at the prestigious London Speakeasy.

 

August 1969

 

In August EARTH ventured back into Germany for a second stint at the Star Club. Although still operating as EARTH the group's live set included songs such as 'Black Sabbath', 'N.I.B.', 'Warning', 'The Wizard', 'Faeries Wear Boots' and 'Rat Salad'. Just earlier to this trip the group had been presented with a problem when, arriving for a gig in Manchester, discovered the promoter had in fact thought he was booking a Tamla Motown R&B band of the same name. By the time the band was back on British soil they had taken on the title BLACK SABBATH, after the Boris Karloff movie and a newly penned song. An attempt by Jim Simpson for them to consider his suggestion of 'Fred Karno's Army' fortunately fell on deaf ears.

Jim Simpson upped the ante by getting the band and producer Gus Dudgeon, an ex-member of TEA & SYMPHONY, into the eight track Trident Studios in Soho to record their first demo on the 22nd August 1969. Engineer Rodger Bain would take over the sessions, featuring the tracks 'Song For Jim' and 'The Rebel', featuring LOCOMOTIVE keyboard player Norman Haines, duly became BLACK SABBATH's first recordings. Performing at the Banklands Youth Club in Workington once again on 26th August EARTH announced they had now become BLACK SABBATH. Their very first gig under the new branding came on 30th August 1969 at the Winter Gardens in Malvern. To mark the transition the 'Earth' logo on BILL WARD's bass drums was covered by a hastily rendered 'Black Sabbath' in gaffa tape.

 

September 1969 - December 1969

 

Subsequent gigs included showcase performances for major labels. With momentum building, BLACK SABBATH undertook a third round of shows at the Hamburg Star Club. The ground swell of support enabled the band to gain a deal with the then 'Progressive Rock' experimental label Vertigo Records, an arm of Fontana Records. Recording for the eponymous debut album began in October. The band gained some valuable exposure the following month with an appearance on DJ John Peel's 'Top Gear' radio show. The band had performed an expenses only gig at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton earlier in September for Peel's benefit and duly secured the influential DJ's support, recording their session, which saw 'Sleeping Village' still going by the formative title of 'Devil's Island', at BBC's Maida Vale Studios.

According to popular legend BLACK SABBATH recorded their first Rodger Bain produced album for a miserly £600 on a four track machine. (Interesting to note as an aside that the engineer for the first two albums was none other than 'Colonel' Tom Allom, himself later to find fame as a producer for JUDAS PRIEST). As an investment on Vertigo's part it was indeed a shrewd one, not only did 'Black Sabbath' define a whole genre of music it would sell millions of copies.

1970

January 1970

 

The band's first product as BLACK SABBATH sunk without trace. A single, 'Wicked Woman (Don't Play Your Evil Games With Me)', a cover of Minnesota act CROW, had seen a release in January 1970 through the Fontana label and once again by the newly established Vertigo Records a few months later. An odd choice for a single, CROW themselves had only just taken 'Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)' to number 19 in the US charts just a year previous.

 

February 1970 - May 1970

 

Ominously, on Friday 13th February, the album 'Black Sabbath' emerged upon an unsuspecting world. Laden with many what are now widely regarded as all time classics; such as 'Black Sabbath', 'The Wizard' and 'N.I.B.' The latter was allegedly at the time thought to be 'Nativity In Black' but actually a strange reference to the shape of Bill Ward's beard!

Clad in an eerie sleeve, depicting a mystical female figure holding a black cat photographed at Mapledurham in Oxfordshire with an inverted crucifix on the inner gatefold, 'Black Sabbath' made an immediate impact. The album's almost Neanderthal bludgeoning heaviness and thick industrial riffing took Rock fans by storm. Quite simply the band had delivered a unique brand of Hard Rock on the unsuspecting masses. The debut reached number 8 in the British charts with virtually no assistance from radio airplay.

Live dates to promote the album saw the band opening up proceedings in Cardiff. The British tour would include such salubrious venues as the East Ham Dukes Head, Salisbury's Alexis Disco and the Croydon Greyhound. Also on the agenda were residencies such as Mothers Club in Erdington and Jim Simpson's Henry's Blues House. BLACK SABBATH would venture into Germany, appearing at the Essen Grughalle 'Song Days' festival, the band undoubtedly the heaviest proposition on a billing alongside RHINOCEROS, TAJ MAHAL, THE GROUNDHOGS, RENAISSANCE and THE KEEF HARTLEY BAND. Returning to the UK BLACK SABBATH appeared at the May Bank Holiday weekend Plumpton Racecourse event with GINGER BAKER'S AIRFORCE and CHICKEN SHACK. Later, the group put in a second gig that same day at Elwall Technical College. En route to a gig the next day at the Hollywood festival in Stoke On Trent, on a billing with COLOSSEUM, FREE, TRAFFIC, QUINTESSENCE and THE GRATEFUL DEAD, BLACK SABBATH's van crashed into another vehicle on the motorway. As luck would have it there were no injuries involved and coincidence revealed the occupants of the other vehicle were all fans travelling to the gig.

Further German festivals had the group appearing alongside RORY GALLAGHER, DEEP PURPLE, FREE, STATUS QUO and BLACK WIDOW. The band also played later British shows including a support to PINK FLOYD.

 

June 1970 - July 1970

 

Shortly after wrapping up recording for their second album in June of 1970, provisionally titled 'War Pigs', again with Rodger Bain producing, an American tour had been set in place for July but then cancelled, the group members concerned that the recent Charles Manson 'family' murders might generate adverse publicity. More UK gigs were scheduled in as, quite incredibly, the 'Black Sabbath' album was still lodged in the charts some forty two weeks after its release.

 

August 1970

 

The group returned to Germany in August. It was at this juncture that BLACK SABBATH opted to switch management from Jim Simpson to Patrick Meehan, also responsible for handling the business career of BLACK WIDOW. However, the four musicians nearly hooked up with another local band as their high flying friends in LED ZEPPELIN expressed an interest in managing their affairs. That same month 1970 BLACK SABBATH played the 10th Plumpton Jazz and Blues festival alongside HUMBLE PIE and YES. Prior to the album release the record company changed the album title to 'Paranoid'. The record company objected to 'War Pigs' due to the prevailing Vietnam war and also as there was a feeling the song 'Paranoid' could be a possible hit. The 'War Pigs' title itself had been changed, the original composition entitled 'Walpurgis'.

The single 'Paranoid' reached Number 4, (which still remains BLACK SABBATH's biggest hit to date), with the album reaching the dizzy heights of Number 1, knocking the classic SIMON & GARFUNKEL 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' from the top spot. In Germany the band fared even better, thr 'Paranoid' single reaching number 1. The album, with the now more renowned classics such as 'Hand Of Doom', 'Faeries Wear Boots' and 'Iron Man', had BLACK SABBATH exploring a much more varied field of interests than its predecessor's predilection for the occult.

 

September 1970

 

There would be virtually no respite for the quartet as live promotion for the sophomore outing saw the band back on the road in the UK during September starting off in Wales yet again; this time at the Swansea Branwygn Hall. Three shows in Switzerland were undertaken before a short burst of live activity in the low countries and by October BLACK SABBATH were putting in inaugural gigs in Scandinavia. The close of the month witnessed another first as a Philadelphia appearance signalled the start of a long trail of roadwork in the United States.

 

October 1970

 

In America the second album reached Number 12 and settled in for a long chart stay, eventually clocking up a sixty five week residency. The band's first American shows also occurred, BLACK SABBATH first touching American soil at JFK airport on October 28th 1970. The band's first shows, commencing at Glassborough State College on October 30th, before a University of Miami gig supporting CANNED HEAT the next day, proved a huge success.

 

November 1970

 

A prestigious New York gig on November 10th, at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, saw BLACK SABBATH opening fro ROD STEWART & THE FACES. BLACK SABBATH's first American trip would also see a run of three San Francisco Filmore West gigs opening up for ARTHUR LEE'S LOVE and the JAMES GANG.

1971 to 1973

January 1971

 

1971 opened with initial recordings for the 'Master Of Reality' album, conducted at Island Studios in Notting Hill Gate, London. Only three songs were laid down before BLACK SABBATH was once again out on the road. The tour had been scheduled to start at the Royal Albert Hall on January 5th but the venue's management banned the group, fearing their fans would damage the fixtures. Nevertheless, the remaining shows, with guests CURVED AIR and FREEDOM, had sold out. Mid tour, the same night BLACK SABBATH played the Manchester Free Trade Hall, Ozzy Osbourne had cause for celebration as his first daughter, Jessica, was born on the 20th. The UK gigs closed at Leeds University on January 23rd and a week later BLACK SABBATH was putting in another first, Australia, performing at the Adelaide 'Myponga Pop' festival on January 31st.

 

February 1971 - April 1971

 

BLACK SABBATH resumed work on the 'Master Of Reality' album tracks then returned to North America with a gig at New Jersey's Asbury Park on February 17th 1971. Already the group was headlining major arena venues with acts such as YES, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, SIR LORD BALTIMORE, HUMBLE PIE and even FLEETWOOD MAC, whilst for other dates they acted as the openers to bands such as MOUNTAIN. It would be on this tour that a man lunged at Tony Iommi with a knife. Racing across the stage at a gig in Memphis, Tennessee on March 1st, the would-be assailant was thankfully bowled over and disarmed by a roadie. These concerts would run through until early April. Upon their return to the UK BLACK SABBATH retired to the studio to complete their album. They would also manage a brief burst of shows across Europe and perform at the London Royal Albert Hall, on April 26th supported by FREEDOM as the final show of the 'Paranoid' world tour, where their ban had been finally lifted. BLACK SABBATH then wound their way through an extensive Scandinavian tour with guest JONATHON SWIFT. Returning home, the 'Master Of Reality' sessions were wrapped up.

 

May 1971 - June 1971

 

On May 7th the 'Paranoid' album was granted Gold status in the USA for half a million units sold. The following month, on the 14th, the 'Black Sabbath' album also scored Gold status in the USA.

 

July 1971

 

In July BLACK SABBATH hit North American shores once again, including a headline performance at the 'Outdoor Rock Fest' at the Detroit Michigan State Fairgrounds on the 4th backed by BROWNSVILLE STATION and Ted Nugent's AMBOY DUKES. Successive concerts throughout that month saw a diverse collection of support acts including YES, HUMBLE PIE and BLACK OAK ARKANSAS. On the 18th the band provided a support role, alongside THE GUESS WHO, HUMBLE PIE and the GREASE BAND for THREE DOG NIGHT's show at the Toronto Borough Of York Stadium. The following night they were back in the headline role at the Ottawa Auditorium backed up by YES and ALICE COOPER. 'Master Of Reality', the final Rodger Bain produced BLACK SABBATH album, first graced US record stores on July 21st, landing in the top ten at number 8.

 

August 1971

 

August 1971 saw the UK release of 'Master Of Reality'. The record peaked at Number 5 in the British charts. Even as the record was hitting the stores the band were confined in the studio working up its successor. Still on the road in the USA, BLACK SABBATH took up all of August on East Coast and Canadian dates backed by EDGAR WINTER'S WHITE TRASH, ALICE COOPER and SWEATHOG.

 

September 1971

 

The band returned to Europe for three major festival appeances. On September 4th BLACK SABBATH played the Speyer 'British Rock Meeting' at the Rheinhalbinsel alongside a patriotic billing of ROD STEWART, DEEP PURPLE, RORY GALLAGHER, FLEETWOOD MAC, HARDIN & YORK, JUICY LUCY, GENTLE GIANT, EAST OF EDEN, THE GROUNDHOGS and FAMILY. The Vienna '48 Hours Festival' took place the following day before the band closed this trek with a spot on the 'Palermo Pop Festival' on the 7th, Another North American tour then ensued in high profile as BLACK SABBATH provided opening hours for a brace of LED ZEPPELIN's New York shows at the Syracuse Onondaga War Memorial Auditorium on the 10th and Rochester Community War Memorial Auditorium on the 11th. Sales of 'Master Of Reality' proved to have a greater momentum than previous efforts and on September 27th the album was to surpass US sales of 500,000 units and duly awarded Gold status.

 

October 1971 - December 1971

 

October was opened by two back to back shows on the 1st and 2nd at the San Francisco Winterland Ballroom over EDGAR WINTER'S WHITE TRASH and SWEATHOG. Retaining SWEATHOG as regular openers, BLACK SABBATH proceeded to cover middle America through until the end of the month. This run exhausted the band to such a degree that UK gigs projected for November were rescheduled for the next year.

 

January 1972 - April 1972

 

BLACK SABBATH instigated live work for 1972 with a full-scale British tour. Fittingly, the band commenced this trek with a two night stand at the Birmingham Town Hall on 24th and 25th January. The British tour, with support from WILD TURKEY, finally wound up at the Bradford St. George's Hall on February 24th. WILD TURKEY hung on as support band as BLACK SABBATH immediately launched into another American tour. YES joined the billing once the trek had reached the West Coast. This run, completing the world tour, wound up in early April.

 

May 1972 - December 1972

 

BLACK SABBATH engaged in another round of exhaustive US touring lasting through from July into early September 1972 leading up to their next album release. Stage guests along the way included GENTLE GIANT, ARGENT, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, BEDLAM, BLACK OAK ARKANSAS, THE GROUNDHOGS and HUMBLE PIE.

'Volume 4' (originally to be titled 'Snowblind') gave the band another top ten British album in September and featured the classic ballad 'Changes', featuring YES keyboard player RICK WAKEMAN, alongside the more brutal 'Snowblind'. A single, 'Tomorrow's Dream', was issued to coincide. 'Volume 4' maintained the band's sales momentum, achieving Gold status officially on November 11th 1972.

In side activity, Tony Iommi recorded a session for FREEDOM, later SNAFU, vocalist BOBBY HARRISON's solo album 'The Funkist'. FREEDOM was also part of Patrick Meehan's management stable and the band had opened for BLACK SABBATH on numerous occasions. Titled 'The Funkist', the album finally saw a release in America on the Capitol label in 1973.

 

January 1973 - June 1973

 

BLACK SABBATH hit new territories to open up 1973, playing in the New Zealand capitol of Wellington on January 5th. Two days later the band performed at the Waikato River open air 'Ngaruawahia Music Festival' alongside SPLIT ENZ, DRAGON and FAIRPORT CONVENTION. Australian concerts were then undertaken in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide supported by New Zealanders TICKET. February was booked with European dates, covering Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy, supported by Progressive Rock band BADGER, upfront of British concerts, commencing March 9th at Glasgow's Green's Playhouse supported by BADGER and Tony Iommi's proteges NECROMANDUS. For the Liverpool concert at the Stadium on March 10th local act NUTZ was added to the billing.

The band returned to America to work on 'Volume 4's follow up but found for the first time their flow of ideas had ebbed. Relocating to rehearse in the suitably spooky setting of a Welsh castle dungeon Iommi came up with the classic riff for the track 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' and the creative juices started to flow once more.

 

July 1973 - December 1973

 

On July 21st BLACK SABBATH played the 'Summer Rock' festival in Frankfurt, Germany sharing the stage with GENTLE GIANT, CURVED AIR, HARDIN & YORK, Jon Hiseman's TEMPEST, HEAVY METAL KIDS and RORY GALLAGHER. Another high profile concert saw the band at the 'London Music Festival '73', held at London's Alexandria Palace on August 2nd backed by the GROUNDHOGS and STRAY.

In late 1973 BLACK SABBATH released the renowned 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' album to worldwide critical acclaim. The title track was lifted as a single, achieving radio success but no chart position. The album track 'Fluff' was dedicated to Radio One DJ Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, a staunch champion of the band that had given 'Paranoid' a major push on UK tadio. UK headline concerts in December saw Boogie merchants HIGHWAY as support.

1974 to 1977

1974

 

BLACK SABBATH opened 1974 with Scandinavian concerts, backed by HIGHWAY, kicking off on January 11th at the Stockholm Scandinavium in Sweden. For live work, keyboard player Gerry Woodroffe was added and the band continued this trek into the European mainland before once again travelling the Atlantic.

Concerts throughout February saw backing from Cozy Powell's BEDLAM, BLACK OAK ARKANSAS, the JAMES GANG and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT . BLACK SABBATH put in one of their most important American appearances at the Ontario Raceway 'California Jam' festival on April 6th 1974 alongside EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, BLACK OAK ARKANSAS, THE EAGLES, RARE EARTH, EARTH, WIND & FIRE, SEALS & CROFT and DEEP PURPLE, playing to an audience of over quarter of a million people.

In May 1974 BLACK SABBATH undertook another round of UK headline shows with support from BLACK OAK ARKANSAS. That November the group returned to Australia as part of 'British Rock & Roll Month', which included no less than five shows at the Sydney Hordern Pavilion. Support bands included AC/DC and STATUS QUO.

 

1975

 

However, touring excesses and managerial nightmares had taken the band to breaking point, with Tony Iommi and OZZY OSBOURNE becoming ever more confrontational. By now the band had shifted their business affairs to the notorious Don Arden. July 1975's 'Sabotage', the first offering to be produced by Tony Iommi, kept the flame alive. Crafted at Morgan Studios in Willesden during February and March, the record poignantly took its title as a direct reference to the group's financial woes. Famously, although unfortunately not captured on tape, these sessions were also the scene of jam sessions with their LED ZEPPELIN, friends, ROBERT PLANT, JOHN PAUL JONES and John Bonham.

The band put in another enormous American tour supported by KISS. However, the band had reached a creative crossroads, with 'Sabotage' witnessing a deliberate move away from the previous occult themes that had served the band so well. Alarmingly, the album sleeve sported a photograph of the band with Ozzy clad in a Japanese kimono and Bill Ward disturbingly wearing red tights. Apparently the group had no idea the session was for the record cover. Behind the scenes, the group was in turmoil, having severed ties with their management.

'Sabotage' did still host some fine moments, with tracks such 'Symptom Of The Universe', 'Am I Going Insane (Radio)', 'Hole In The Sky' and 'Supertzar'. Adventurously, Tony Iommi drafted the national English Chamber Choir and a harpist for the latter track. Their business affairs even made it onto song with 'The Writ', the members actually being served with legal papers whilst recording. The 'Sabotage' album notably included a rarity for the band as initial copies included an unaccredited track 'Blow The Jug'. This was actually BILL WARD singing the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND track captured unawares by a studio engineer. Later pressings do not include this moment. The album scored a number 7 position in the UK and reached number 28 in the USA.

Planned concerts in Europe and the UK for November were scrapped after Ozzy Osbourne injured himself in a motorcycle accident. On a more positive note, the December 1975 compilation 'We Sold Our Souls For Rock n' Roll' charted well to close out the year.

 

1976

 

BLACK SABBATH fired up 1976 with a spate of UK headliners backed by BANDY LEGS as the finale of the 'Sabotage' world tour. Many thought the experimental effort 'Technical Ecstasy', which featured keyboards from Gerry Woodruffe, to be way below par. The band recorded at Criteria Studios in Florida with Robin Black behind the desk, as THE EAGLES were also cutting the landmark 'Hotel California' in the same complex. 'Technical Ecstacy' did include a first for the band, as Ward took lead vocals for the first time ever on the track 'It's Alright'.

An inkling of what was to come was delivered in the unlikely form of a T-shirt. During the 'Technical Ecstacy' sessions Osbourne took to wearing a shirt sporting the legend 'Blizzard of Ozz', a band title suggested by his father. Upon his return to the UK, Ozzy surreptitiously set about creating a fresh band with NECROMANDUS guitarist Barry Dunnery but due to the chaotic circumstances prevailing at the time this project floundered.

Upon its release, on September 2th in the USA and October 8th in the UK, 'Technical Ecstacy' marked a return to the Vertigo label for the band, the previous two records having been issued through NEMS.

North American dates, commencing on October 22nd at the Assembly Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, saw BLACK SABBATH on the road supported by BOSTON and MOXY. For these dates Bill Ward employed a grandiose, throne-like drum riser, sculpted from stained glass, packed with strobe lighting and dry ice pumps and topped by a gothic chandelier. However, 'Technical Ecstacy' struggled in the charts, not even breaking the US top fifty despite tour attendances proving healthy. The band's status remained high, as evidenced by a triumphant performance at New York's famed Madison Square Garden on 6th December.

 

1977

 

Extensive US dates, lasting into February 1977, saw support coming from BOB SEGER, TED NUGENT, DR. HOOK, JOURNEY and TARGET. The growing internal tensions resulted in Geezer Butler actually being fired from the band in 1977, Bill Ward giving him the bad news at home. However, Butler was rapidly re-inducted. UK concerts in March had Liverpool Rockers NUTZ as opening band. The 'Technical Ecstacy' world tour landed in Europe during April 1977, with German concerts in Offenbach, Cologne, Nürnberg and the Ludwigshafen 'Easter Rock' festival partnered with a heavyweight billing comprising the IAN GILLAN BAND and AC/DC. The latter band stayed with them for further shows throughout Scandinavia.

In November, Osbourne announced he was bowing out from the band. Another stab at building a solo band found Ozzy in league with former DIRTY TRICKS personnel guitarist John Frazer-Binnie, bass player Terry Horbury and drummer Andy Bierne, but just as this group readied themselves for rehearsals in London Osbourne promptly rejoined BLACK SABBATH.

In the interim BLACK SABBATH had endeavoured to fill the void with ex-IDLE RACE, FLEETWOOD MAC and SAVOY BROWN vocalist David Walker. An inaugural and swansong TV appearance as lead vocalist of the then troubled BLACK SABBATH on the BBC Midlands 'Look Here!' show previewed the newly penned track 'Junior's Eyes'. Recordings were made with Walker for the next album, but the liaison was short-lived and, scrapping the previous songs, Osbourne was enticed back for one last album 'Never Say Die', a record featuring HIGHWAY's John Elstar on harmonica. The only track to surface from the Walker era was a version of 'Junior's Eyes' on the bootleg 'Archangel Rides Again'.

Walker later rejoined SAVOY BROWN.

1978 to 1979

BLACK SABBATH ensconced themselves at Sounds Interchange Studios in Toronto for recording of 'Never Say Die!' in January of 1978. Opening their world tour on 16th May in Sheffield, BLACK SABBATH appeared tired and uninspired; a state of affairs sharply put into focus by having the youthful VAN HALEN as guests stealing the honours from the headliners throughout the tour. A welcome point of high profile exposure for fans came with an appearance from the band on the TV show 'Top Of The Pops', performing the title track from the album. Remaining partnered with VAN HALEN the band then embarked upon US dates, commencing in Chicago on the 14th August prior to traversing the Midwest and closing East Coast shows in Seattle during September. The King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show recorded BLACK SABBATH at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh on September 2nd, airing four songs 'Snowblind', 'Black Sabbath', 'Iron Man' and 'Paranoid'. Still retaining VAN HALEN as support, BLACK SABBATH then engaged in German gigs before returning to North America for a second leg.

The album was issued in October and, although entering the UK charts at number 12, fared badly in the USA, where it scraped to a lowly number 69. The band was still a solid draw on the live circuit though, as amply demonstated by their November US dates. BLACK SABBATH's final gig with OZZY OSBOURNE at the helm, bar latter reunions, would be in Albuquerque, New Mexico on the 11th December.

BLACK SABBATH switched the handling of their business affairs over to Don Arden of Jet Records, noted for his pivotal role in making fellow Brummies the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA a world-wide success story, in January of 1979. The band relocated to Bel Air in Los Angeles to commence work on a new studio record but, despite laying down initial demos such as prototypes of 'Children Of The Sea' and 'Lady Evil', the band would fragment.

OZZY OSBOURNE quit for the last time in late April, eventually resurfacing as a solo artist under the initial band handle of BLIZZARD OF OZZ for an immensely successful post BLACK SABBATH career. Joining Osbourne would be erstwhile URIAH HEEP drummer Lee Kerslake, former QUIET RIOT guitar protégé Randy Rhoads and the ex-CHICKEN SHACK, WIDOWMAKER and RAINBOW bassist Bob Daisley.

TONY IOMMI, Geezer Butler and BILL WARD set about re-building the band. The guitarist pulled in his friend Geoff Nicholls from fellow Birmingham Heavy Metal band QUARTZ as an intended second guitarist whilst they searched for a singer. Initially Iommi approached former DEEP PURPLE man DAVID COVERDALE to fill the vocal vacancy but this idea never got beyond the discussion stage. Next in line on Iommi's wish list would be another DEEP PURPLE man, GLENN HUGHES but, despite the singer being available and even attending studio sessions as a friend, no proposal was brokered.

BLACK SABBATH announced that former ELF and RAINBOW vocalist Ronnie James Dio had joined the fold. Butler also departed and for a while was supplanted by Geoff Nicholls on bass. Nicholls then shifted over to the keyboard role, a role he has occupied ever since, former BOSTON bassist Fran Sheehan was tried out for the role. At Dio's suggestion, ex-RAINBOW bassist Craig Gruber took the position. Apparently at this juncture the band was merely to be titled SABBATH. However, with Gruber's tenure proving brief and with Geezer Butler making a return in the time of recording for their comeback album Butler had returned along with the full band name.

'Heaven And Hell' was demoed and rehearsed in Los Angeles but the band opted to record at Miami's Criteria Recording Studios. This transition of venues would also mark a switch in management from Don Arden, who now concentrated his efforts on OZZY OSBOURNE, to Sandy Pearlman, the noted mentor of BLUE ÖYSTER CULT.

1980

Upon the cusp of the eighties BLACK SABBATH, now fronted by Ronnie James Dio, had almost wound up recording what was to be an undoubted renaissance record for the band. One last track, the barnstorming 'Neon Knights', was recorded in early 1980 as a last minute addition at the Ferber Complex in Paris, France.

Despite the many adversities BLACK SABBATH came up trumps with a massively successful album entitled 'Heaven And Hell'. According to some reports many of Gruber's bass lines were left intact for the finished record but the American did not want his name to appear anywhere on the finished package. This would be revealed as speculation, all of 'Heaven And Hell's bass work being committed to tape by Butler.

Produced by Martin Birch, this record spawned many classics, including 'Children Of The Sea', the title track and even a hit single in 'Neon Nights', which saw BLACK SABBATH once more on the TV show 'Top Of The Pops'. Dio, a vocalist of quite awesome talents, certainly lent the epic touch of majesty Iommi needed as a foil for his increasingly monolithic riffing and fittingly 'Heaven And Hell' soon racked up over a million sales in America.

The live promotion for the album kicked off in Europe, opening with a 17th April show in Aurich, North Western Germany. Intended purely to break the band in, the tour wound its way through relatively small German towns such as Oldenburg, Kaunitz, Fallingbostal and Rendsburg, before diving into the Austrian capital of Vienna and closing on the 26th at the Landschut Sportshalle. A higher profile UK tour, bolstered by a four night sell out run at London's Hammersmith Odeon, saw GIRLSCHOOL as support act. In June the band returned to larger German venues with SHAKIN' STREET as openers.

BLACK SABBATH, complete with a huge flaming cross stage prop, put on a monstrous tour of North America allied with co-headliners BLUE ÖYSTER CULT billed as the 'Black n' Blue' tour. Support along the way came from MOLLY HATCHET, SAXON and RIOT. With 'Heaven And Hell' selling in large numbers gig attendances were healthy and the band also performed at some major Californian festivals, such as the Oakland 'Day On The Green' alongside JOURNEY in front of 80,000 people and the 'Summer Blowout'. However, shortly after the dates began, BILL WARD, travelling by road seperately from the rest of the band announced at a show in Denver he was quitting. The years on the road had finally took their toll on his health and sense of purpose with the band. Members of MOLLY HATCHET were later to claim that such was the magnitude of ill luck BLACK SABBATH were dragging around with them that at one open air show a solitary cloud deluged rain onto BLACK SABBATH on stage leaving the audience completely dry!

BLACK SABBATH rapidly drafted in ex-AXIS, BRUZER and DERRINGER drummer Vinny Appice, who, incidentally, was asked to join OZZY OSBOURNE's new band at the same time but had declined. The new man put in his BLACK SABBATH debut in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1981 to 1982

Maintaining their momentum, BLACK SABBATH swiftly turned out another spectacular album in 'Mob Rules' which, if anything, saw BLACK SABBATH getting even heavier. Strangely the album artwork, by artist Greg Hildebrandt, sparked rumours that amidst the rubble strewn about in the foreground of the painting was the barely disguised legend "Kill Ozzy"!

The band would make their mark on the British singles charts once again with the title track as Dio had proven that 'Heaven And Hell' was no one off and delivered yet another quality clutch of songs. In North America the album fell short of the platinum sales mark but still bolstered the band's reputation.

The subsequent tour, kicking off with a show in Hawaii to 20,000 people, witnessed BLACK SABBATH solidifying their return to the fore. Sadly, prior to the release of a proposed double live album 'Live Evil', Dio left amidst a cloud of insults and accusations.

Bizarrely, BLACK SABBATH accused Dio of sneaking in the studio after the rest of the band had gone, to push up the vocal levels on 'Live Evil'. To cap it all Osbourne had issued a double live album 'Speak Of The Devil' chock full of BLACK SABBATH classics as performed by his band stealing the band's fire for 'Live Evil'. The press would be only too eager to fan the flames and keep the verbal feud alive, which naturally succeeded in dragging the once glorious name of BLACK SABBATH down into the mud. BLACK SABBATH would, directly due to Tony Iommi's stoicism, never lay down arms but were about to enter turbulent times.

1983

Vinny Appice was given the push along with Dio as the drummer joined the singer in forming DIO during 1983. The debut DIO album was widely regarded as a remarkable Metal album, with international sales to match, and a big pointer to the direction BLACK SABBATH would have gone had Dio stayed the course. Auditioning new singers BLACK SABBATH put both SAMSON's Nicky Moore and LONE STAR's John Sloman through their paces. A meeting to entice the WHITESNAKE pairing of DAVID COVERDALE and COZY POWELL onboard failed to yield solid results.

The band's next move took the Rock world by total surprise as it was announced that BLACK SABBATH's new singer was none other than former DEEP PURPLE man Ian Gillan alongside a re-instated BILL WARD. Many GILLAN fans felt betrayed, as Gillan had, only weeks before, quit a British tour purporting to be severely affected with a throat infection that would put him out of action for months. GILLAN band members also leaked the news that an abortive attempt at putting DEEP PURPLE back together again had prompted the singer's move. When this proposed union faltered Gillan got the welcome call from BLACK SABBATH. Bill Ward was also reinstated for recording having been pulled from his latest venture MAX HAVOC. However, Iommi called in his old QUARTZ ally Malcolm Cope to lay down drums for the album demo tracks prior to Ward taking up his position. With Ward in place the band cut the finished tracks, only one track not making the final running order. Entitled 'The Falling' (very often mis-named 'The Fallen' by bootleggers), the track was left off purely to maintain the desired 45 minutes running time.

The ensuing album 'Born Again', featuring an incredibly garish sleeve designed by 'Kerrang!' art director Krusher Joule, was slated by critics. Indeed, it soon emerged that the album cover was in fact a photocopied, re-touched version of a DEPECHE MODE single cover for 'New Life' issued in 1981, simply being coloured in and having added claws and horns.

The artistic combination of Gillan and BLACK SABBATH certainly jarred with many fans. Regardless, an equal number praised this strange alliance. The record still achieved an exceptionally high British chart placing and good international sales. (Someone in GUNS N' ROSES certainly had been listening. Spot the widely recognised identical riff!)

Shortly after recording 'Born Again' Ward was forced to quit due to recurring health problems- reforging ties with MAX HAVOC on the production front- and was quickly replaced by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA drummer Bev Bevan. Headlining the Reading festival that year BLACK SABBATH rubbed salt in the wounds of a sneering British press by dragging out DEEP PURPLE's 'Smoke On The Water' as an encore.

Incidentally, the notorious Stonehenge stageset scene in spoof Rockumentary 'This Is Spinal Tap' was strongly rumoured to have been based on actual events surrounding the BLACK SABBATH stageset for the 'Born Again' tour, with the finished 'stones' being too big to fit into venues.

European dates in September saw fellow Brummies DIAMOND HEAD as support. Controversy continued to follow the latest incarnation of the band wherever they roamed. At a gig in Zwolle, Holland, one insulted fan even threw a wheelchair on stage in protest at the sullying of the BLACK SABBATH legend. An American tour, with LITA FORD as opener, certainly pulled in healthy audience figures but proved less than successful with critics. Nevertheless, 'Born Again' was selling strongly and further US dates were planned. It would appear that this line-up soon fell apart, harried by the press from all quarters, but in actuality Gillan had merely served out his contract for one album and one world tour whilst awaiting developments with DEEP PURPLE. Gillan formed up part of the classic MK II DEEP PURPLE line-up for the successful comeback album 'Perfect Strangers'.

1984 to 1985

In 1984 BLACK SABBATH was in turmoil. Without a vocalist the band were in consultation with producer Spencer Proffer regarding possibly working together on an album. Proffer was a hot ticket having worked on the recent QUIET RIOT number one album 'Metal Health'. The producer suggested BLACK SABBATH hook up with former STEELER vocalist Ron Keel. The young American did not audition but cut a series of demos, recorded by session musicians and produced by SLAUGHTER's Dana Strum. These tapes would in fact be a selection of tracks written by Canadian band KICK AXE and suggested for use by Proffer for a forthcoming BLACK SABBATH product. However, as Iommi was less than impressed with the producer's choice of material relations between Proffer and BLACK SABBATH were curtailed and Keel was also put out of the frame. This was not before news stories of his supposed tenure with the band were leaked though. Keel went on to major label success with his own eponymous band KEEL as BLACK SABBATH began the hunt once more for a singer. As for Spencer Proffer's KICK AXE tracks, 'Running Wild In The Streets', would end up on the W.A.S.P. album 'The Last Command', re-credited to Blackie Lawless whilst the other two tracks, 'Hunger' and 'Piece Of The Rock', would be covered by KING KOBRA.

Finally the band announced that Ward had rejoined and unveiled new vocalist, an American, David Donato, whose past credits listed various small time Californian club bands, such as HERO, HEADSHAKER, VIRGIN and WHITE TIGER, the latter act alongside KISS guitarist Mark St. John. The tape that secured Donato the job was recorded with ex-DEEP PURPLE bassist GLENN HUGHES and Mark Norton in a band titled DALI.

With David Donato fronting the band BLACK SABBATH engaged in six months of rehearsals at The Rockhouse in Los Angeles. In early 1985 a now infamous BLACK SABBATH interview in 'Kerrang' magazine mocked the new look band. The heavily edited article was viewed by many as signalling the death knell for Donato's involvement although, in reality, the singer maintained his position for many months afterward. The ongoing rehearsals culminated in a Bob Ezrin produced demo. Amongst these tracks would be 'No Way Out'. (A song that would morph over the years through various titles such as 'Black Fire', 'Power Of The Night' and 'Rise Up' before finally emerging commercially in 1987 as 'The Shining'). Other Ezrin demos would be the unreleased 'Don't Beg The Master' and 'Dancing With The Devil'. The Donato incarnation of BLACK SABBATH then disbanded, with Geezer endeavouring to build a solo band.

Post BLACK SABBATH, Donato's next project would be a brief union with guitarist LANNY CORDOLA and Barry Brandt of ANGEL repute. Another call from the BLACK SABBATH camp had Donato cutting demos with Geezer Butler in St. Louis. Subsequently, Donato re-emerged as 'Michael McDonald', fronting the short-lived outfit KEEP in alliance with old colleague Mark St. John and KISS co-founder PETER CRISS.

Geezer Butler still pursued the formation of his solo band, the line-up for the GEEZER BUTLER BAND during this time included guitarist Pedro Howse, vocalist Richie Callison and drummer John Mee. A later line up had ex-BIRD OF PREY vocalist Kyle Michaels fronting the band, later of MASI.

BILL WARD duly activated his own ENGLAND'S GLORY band, this unit involving vocalist Paul Williams, from from JOHN MAYALL'S BLUESBREAKERS, Aynsley Dunbar's BLUE WHALE, Blues Rockers JUICY LUCY, TEMPEST and the ALLAN HOLDSWORTH band, bassist Rob Ridgeway and NOMAD guitarist Robb Howell, later of RH FACTOR and PEACE MACHINE. Ward also sessioned on RH FACTOR's album 'One Step Closer To The Sun'.

Tony Iommi began demoing up new material utilising the services of the rhythm section from his girlfriend LITA FORD's band bassist Gordon Copley and ex-ICEBREAKER drummer Eric Singer. It was apparently for the initial auditions for what was originally planned as Iommi's solo album 'Seventh Star' that the American TV evangelist Jeff Fenholt actually rehearsed with the band. Fenholt, a former frontman for ARMAGEDDON, BIBLE BLACK and JOSHUA, claims to have been a 'member' of the band between January and May 1985. However, this has been hotly disputed by other sources. Songs recorded with Iommi have been posted on the web. These tracks, also compiled on an unofficial album of pre-production material do reveal material that did end up eventually on the 'Seventh Star' album recorded with different lyrics such as 'Star Of India', 'Dark Side Of Love', 'In The Eye Of The Storm', 'Rock The World', 'Lock Myself Away', 'Don't Turn Away' and 'Love Has No Mercy'. Immediately after his BLACK SABBATH liaison Fenholt embarked upon a series of solo Christian concerts in South America prior to returning to Los Angeles to front DRIVER for a brief period.

The 13th of July 1985 Live Aid event provided the catalyst for an impromptu reunion of the original BLACK SABBATH, but negotiations for a more permanent venture proved fruitless and Geezer Butler returned to Britain to set up a more AOR orientated act that performed a handful of club shows.

1986

With BLACK SABBATH effectively falling apart, TONY IOMMI, who had been dating former RUNAWAYS guitarist LITA FORD, got back to business by recording what was originally intended to be a solo album entitled 'Seventh Star'. The album was planned to have featured three vocalists in Ronnie James Dio, JUDAS PRIEST's Rob Halford and ex-DEEP PURPLE and TRAPEZE star GLENN HUGHES. As it turned out, Hughes cut all the songs.

Apparently persuaded by manager Don Arden and the record company this album was eventually to see the light of day under the rather unwieldy title of BLACK SABBATH FEATURING TONY IOMMI and paradoxically was also to be one of the band's brightest moments musically. This in spite of much of the material on the finished album being original demos, some cut with LITA FORD bassist Gordon Copley.

The album gave Iommi more freedom to explore the bluesier side of his nature and, combined with an awesome vocal display from Hughes, 'Seventh Star', produced by Jeff Glixman, is without doubt a classic album. Much of the song writing would be attributed to keyboard player Geoff Nicholls who, much to the relief of fans, finally took his rightful place in official band photos for this outing. Iommi formed a new band around this album with Hughes, Nicholls, drummer Eric Singer with ex-AMERICADE and WHITE LION bassist Dave 'The Beast' Spitz. Spitz had left WHITE LION to join BLACK SABBATH but not before WHITE LION in turn had asked Eric Singer to drum for them. Then without a record contract, the WHITE LION proposition did not seem to appealing to Singer or Spitz.

The American tour started out in Cleveland, Ohio on March 21st with support acts W.A.S.P. and ANTHRAX, but Hughes, according to the press, still suffered from unreliability and alleged drug related problems. However, the singer claimed to have been punched the day before the debut gig by a member of BLACK SABBATH's crew that blood was choking his throat, thus affecting his performance. Whatever the real cause the rest of the band were concerned enough to secretly audition replacements. They would choose stand-by singer in RAY GILLEN. Spitz had suggested the then unknown New Yorker after seeing him perform in the clubs fronting RONDINELLI. Prior to joing BLACK SABBATH Gillen had been considering a career move into the stage cast for the musical 'Cats'.

Having joined BLACK SABBATH on the road as a standby Gillen's real purpose was soon divulged. Hughes was formally notified following a Connecticut show on March 29th, leaving Gillen to pick up the pieces. The following UK tour, with support act ZENO, played to half empty houses despite the excellence of the new material and superior of Gillen's vocals. It seemed the fans had simply had enough of constant line-up changes. One of the band's London Hammersmith Odeon gigs was filmed and intended for commercial release but due to the paltry crowd numbers on the day remained shelved.

1987 to 1988

BLACK SABBATH retired to Air Studios on the isle of Montserrat, aided by producer Jeff Glixman. Unfortunately, Glixman upped and left mid way through recording. His place was taken by Vic Coppersmith, brought in to assist Gillen with his vocals, who lasted little longer. As Dave Spitz bowed out with personal problems former RAINBOW and OZZY OSBOURNE bassist Bob Daisley was enlisted to help the band out of a tight spot as producer Chris Tsangarides finally finished the album in London. Daisley would end up recording all the bass parts as well as lyrics for the record. Daisley would be invited to join the band and accepted. However, due to the chaotic nature of BLACK SABBATH at that juncture the bassist subsequently took up an offer from GARY MOORE and invited Eric Singer to join him.

Further turmoil followed as Gillen did not stick around long enough to finish recording the next album 'Eternal Idol', opting instead to join ex-THIN LIZZY guitarist JOHN SYKES and drum legend COZY POWELL in a formative version of BLUE MURDER. Gillen would also session for the second volume of the all star PHENOMENA project album. When the BLUE MURDER situation did not gel for Gillen or Powell, the vocalist then re-united with his former BLACK SABBATH drum partner Eric Singer with OZZY OSBOURNE guitarist JAKE E. LEE's new Blues Rock act BADLANDS. Gillen would die tragically young in early December 1993. His legacy with BLACK SABBATH remains with a set of highly sought after bootleg recordings of the original album sessions. Post BADLANDS Eric Singer enjoyed fame with both ALICE COOPER and KISS.

Regrouping yet again, Iommi pulled in Birmingham's TONY MARTIN, previously with THE ALLIANCE and TOBRUK, to fill the vacant vocal spot. Ironically Martin had unsuccesfully auditioned for the frontman position with BLUE MURDER, a spot subsequently given over to his BLACK SABBATH predecessor Ray Gillen. 'The Eternal Idol' showcased Martin's vocal abilities, unfortunately tainted by a remarkable resemblance to Dio. Despite the undoubted quality of the songs displayed on the album, indeed 'Eternal Idol' is often hailed as an overlooked classic, these could do little to stem the tide and it fared badly in the charts.

Dave Spitz returned on bass and Bev Bevan took control of the drums but initial touring was erratic, commencing with a one off gig in Greece. However, originally Geezer Butler was involved in rehearsals for a proposed concert at a festival in Plymouth to be held on 18th July. Dave Spitz was re-inducted at short notice but after arriving on site to be greeted by an audience numbering just a few hundred BLACK SABBATH decided to not go on stage. The line-up debuted in Athens to a rowdy crowd on 21st July, where the concert was curtailed mid set by fans wrecking the stage.

A massive faux pas by the band resulting from gigs at South Africa's Sun City venue forced the band's management to issue a formal apology upon their return. Spitz would then bow out and post Sabbath would claim working credits with IMPELLITERRI, SLAM NATION, GREAT WHITE and NUCLEAR ASSAULT.

BLACK SABBATH then took to the road in Europe, with ex-VIRGINIA WOLF bassist Jo Burt in the ranks and Terry Chimes, a veteran of an eclectic range of acts such as THE CLASH, GENERATION X, HANOI ROCKS and CHERRY BOMBZ. The band put in extensive road work throughout Germany and Italy supported by VIRGIN STEELE. A solitary London Hammersmith Odeon gig to round the year out was cancelled at short notice.

In May 1988 BLACK SABBATH put in a surprise low key appearance at a local nightclub, the Oldbury Top Spot, performing for charity. A lucky handful of fans witnessed one of the strangest ever BLACK SABBATH line-ups for this one off gig comprised Iommi, Martin, drummer Bev Bevan and keyboardist Geoff Nichols handling bass duties. This event would prove to be the band's only non GLENN HUGHES live rendition of the 'Seventh Star' track 'Heart Like A Wheel'.

An amusing BLACK SABBATH related story emerged in April 1988 when 'Kerrang!' magazine ran an 'exclusive' story related to plans for top Welsh crooner Tom Jones to join the band. The combination revealing their intention to record a concept album and undertake a tour based upon the dual subjects of bullfighting and Welsh mining. The story was, of course, a well conceived April Fool's Day hoax enjoyed by both Iommi and Tom Jones!

By this time not only had the fans stomached enough but Vertigo dropped the band shortly after 'Eternal Idol's release. Undaunted, BLACK SABBATH signed to Miles Copeland's IRS label and set about rebuilding their career with a clutch of strong album releases, kicking off with 'The Headless Cross', a record which re-kindled interest in mainland Europe pulling in strong sales.

Meantime, another BLACK SABBATH player would be active on the live circuit with BLUE THUNDER, drummer BILL WARD's alliance in an illustrious trio of seasoned players comprising bassist TIM BOGERT, a veteran high profile member of VANILLA FUDGE, CACTUS, MARCUS, PIPEDREAM and BECK, BOGERT & APPICE and esteemed Blues guitarist Walter Trout.

1989 to 1991

The new album 'Headless Cross' naturally witnessed a further line-up shuffle, with Iommi and Martin drafting in ex-RAINBOW, WHITESNAKE and MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP drummer COZY POWELL and little known bassist Lawrence Cottle. The latter had made his mark previously on GARY MOORE's 'After The War' album and with sessions for ERIC CLAPTON.

For live work Cottle was supplanted by former WHITESNAKE and VOW WOW bassist Neil Murray. Still, 'Headless Cross' proved a welcome return to form and saw strong sales across Europe. In America though an about face in fortune saw the band floundering in some dismally attended venues throughout June of 1989. Support acts came in the shape of KINGDOM COME and SILENT RAGE. After just 8 concerts the band withdrew from the tour.

With 'Headless Cross' far exceeding sales expectations in Germany the band's European tour was conducted with a renewed flush of success. The German melodic Rock outfit AXXIS supported in the UK during August, BLACK SABBATH kicking off their British dates at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre. More traditional stamping grounds such as Liverpool's Royal Court, Sheffield's City Hall, Newcastle City Hall, Edinburgh Playhouse, Manchester's Apollo and Leicester's De Montfort Hall all boasted a respectable turn out and led up to a double barrelled brace of dates at London's Hammersmith Odeon. By scheduling two Hammersmith dates Black Sabbath were giving a display of optimism that would serve them well. On the last of these shows, the 10th of September, BRIAN MAY strolled on for the encores to an ecstatic crowd response.

AXXIS would remain as special guests throughout the Scandinavian and European leg, commencing at Stockholm's Solnahallen venue. The following night in the Danish capitol of Copenhagen IAN GILLAN showed plenty of water had flowed under his particular bridge by gracing the stage for an encore of DEEP PURPLE's 'Smoke On The Water'.

Germany was given priority treatment with a rash of gigs across the whole country before the band delved into Hungary, Yugoslavia and Italy. Regrettably a trip to Mexico for what was to be the band's inaugural live performances in that country disintegrated into chaos, with dates cancelled due to dis-organisation and illness. By October the upward curve for the band had been re-established as they made a welcome return to Japan, limbering up before the undoubted highlight of the world tour - Russia. Mikhail Gorbachov's 'Glasnost' had opened the former Soviet union up to western artists for the first time. Supported by GIRLSCHOOL, the band performed at the gigantic Moscow Olympic Hall before moving onto the Leningrad (later St. Petersburg) EKS Hall. A Mexican concert, set for October 28th at Estadio Nou Camp in Guanajuato, was cancelled. The band arrived to find the originally scheduled date moved and the substitute so makeshift they decided to cancel, provoking the wrath of local fans.

Another superb album 'Tyr', loosely based on Norse mythology, Tyr being the Viking War God, found BLACK SABBATH solidifying their return. The 'Tyr' world tour got rolling in the hometown West Midlands gig of Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 1st September 1990, ably supported on this trek by the American biker Rock CIRCUS OF POWER. By the close of September Black Sabbath was back in Italy for an extensive run of dates before winding through Switzerland and Austria then launching into a full two weeks worth of shows in Germany. Concerts in the Philippines and Singapore closed the tour. Unfortunately, in late 1991, the band suffered a serious setback when Powell was badly injured. The drummer's horse, Pip, suffered a heart attack and fell on Powell, fracturing his hip.

1992 to 1993

BLACK SABBATH continuously kept negotiating with OZZY OSBOURNE for his return, but in 1992, following many false starts Iommi and Butler opted finally for the next best thing by teaming up once more with Ronnie James Dio. On August 28th 1990 Geezer Butler had jammed with DIO on the 'Lock Up The Wolves' tour at the Minneapolis Forum performing 'Neon Nights', after which the proposal to join forces once more was mooted. The idea was a necessary step for both parties as DIO had suffered from less than capacity attendances on their North American tour and BLACK SABBATH were in limbo following Ozzy's opt out of reunion plans.

With Dio rejoining, TONY MARTIN pursued a solo project, releasing a 1992 album 'Back Where I Belong' for Vertigo in Germany. He would also appear to contribute lead vocals to two MISHA CALVIN albums, although these recordings had in actual fact been made much earlier, whilst a a pre-SABBATH Martin was still with THE ALLIANCE.

With COZY POWELL still in recuperation from his horse rising accident, his position was taken by Vinnie Appice. The resulting album was the Mack produced 'Dehumaniser', which, despite being a heavyweight offering, failed to capture previous Dio-era glories, mainly due to a clutch of mediocre songs. Of the stronger material it would transpire that 'Master Of Insanity', although uncredited, had in fact been written by guitarist JIMI BELL for Geezer's earlier solo venture the GEEZER BUTLER BAND.

BLACK SABBATH, with Ronnie James Dio back at the helm, used South America as the first staging post in the 'Dehumanizer' world tour. During June the band performed to enormous audiences in Sao Paulo, Porte Alegre and Rio De Janeiro just upfront of the album release. Stalling at number 44 in the Billboard charts in mid July it was hardly the much vaunted resurrection Warner Bros. had hoped for. The group used Florida as an inception point from which to launch their first leg of the USA, the Gothic Rock n' Roller DANZIG lending suitable support. Chuck Billy's Thrash vets TESTAMENT provided the guest honours for a round of British shows in September. BLACK SABBATH provided their fans with yet another dose of Thrash as they got stuck into the second round of US shows in October as San Francisco's EXODUS paired up with German's SKEW SISKIN to act as support.

In parallel, Ozzy was nailing the lid on his live work by performing his last two shows at Costa Mesa. The Oz invited BLACK SABBATH to play on the same bill then reunite for a few songs one last time following his performance. The idea was anathema to Dio, who promptly announced he was quitting once more. This was not before another ugly war of words had ensued, including a fax to journalists from the Ozzy management camp detailing the paltry attendance figures DIO the band had mustered last time they played the Costa Mesa venue. Remarkably, BLACK SABBATH did play at the Ozzy shows with JUDAS PRIEST vocalist Rob Halford fronting the band, the singer having learnt the entire set in two days. However, when it was initially learned that Dio was not going perform TONY MARTIN's services were requested - but then nixed by the Osbourne camp.

During all this activity ex-members Cozy Powell and Neil Murray re-found one of Cozy's old acts COZY POWELL's HAMMER with guitarist MARIO PARGA and singer Peter Oliver. This line up only lasted one gig before the recruitment of another BLACK SABBATH face TONY MARTIN. The band toured Europe billed as TONY MARTIN & FRIENDS. Powell and Murray would stick together to form SAINTS AND SINNERS.

1994

1994 saw another excellent, if overlooked, album 'Cross Purposes' surfacing. Although, according to quotes from Geezer Butler, initially planned as an Iommi / Butler project album, akin to Iommi's 'Seventh Star', record company pressure saw its release under the BLACK SABBATH banner. The album boasted a heavyweight guest in the form of VAN HALEN mainman Eddie Van Halen, an (oddly) uncredited co-writer of the track 'Evil Eye'. There is also speculation as to whether the famed guitarist actually performs on the track itself. A further oddity would be that the album sleeve artwork, an angel with wings on fire, had already been used by the SCORPIONS for their 1991 single 'Send Me An Angel'.

BLACK SABBATH toured America once again, with vocalist Tony Martin and new drummer Bobby Rondinelli, a veteran of RAINBOW, this time in a heavyweight Metal package with MOTÖRHEAD and MORBID ANGEL throughout February and March, prior to Japanese shows and a well received European jaunt with 70's BLACK SABBATH idolising support act CATHEDRAL and Americans GODSPEED. Still, in August 1994, Rondinelli was jettisoned prior to dates in South America for the 'Monsters Of Rock' shows partnered with KISS and his place on the drum stool was once more in the hands of original member BILL WARD. The ousted New Yorker soon came back to the fore as a member of BLUE ÖYSTER CULT.

The BLACK SABBATH 'tribute' album 'Nativity In Black' was launched at the Los Angeles Foundations Forum. Essentially a selection of up and coming, mainly American acts such as BIOHAZARD, WHITE ZOMBIE and TYPE O NEGATIVE paying homage to their heroes, the album nonetheless featured some interesting combinations; such as OZZY OSBOURNE and THERAPY?'s rendition of 'Iron Man' and MEGADETH performing 'Paranoid' . Also included was a track by the BULLRING BRUMMIES, a studio outfit consisting of JUDAS PRIEST and FIGHT vocalist Rob Halford, Geezer Butler, FIGHT guitarist Brian Tilse and OBSESSED guitarist Wino.

1995

With one more original BLACK SABBATH member back in the line-up another one departed, with Butler quitting in September and going on to work on a solo album under the band handle of G/Z//R. By the following month it was announced that the group had reinstated the 'Headless Cross' / 'Tyr' era rhythm section of Neil Murray and COZY POWELL, alongside Tony Iommi and TONY MARTIN.

Unfortunately, the resulting album, 'Forbidden', did not match the class of its predecessors, sounding rushed and lacking in terms of overall sound quality. The somewhat pedestrian production was handled by BODY COUNT guitarist Ernie C. and the album featured vocalist ICE T. guesting on the lead cut 'Illusion Of Power'.

Still, BLACK SABBATH once more set out on tour in America, co-headlining with MOTÖRHEAD for a second time. As these dates reached California Powell was forced to leave to deal with personal problems and in came Bobby Rondinelli yet again to complete the schedule of a lengthy set of European dates followed up by Far Eastern and South Pacific concerts. With the 'Forbidden' tour fulfilled, negotiations throughout much of the following year centred upon making a return for OZZY OSBOURNE. Rondinelli would join BLUE ÖYSTER CULT in February 1997.

1996 to 2007

In mid 1996 it appeared that Tony Iommi was once more working with vocalist Rob Halford for an album project, although the former JUDAS PRIEST vocalist still had commitments to his new Industrial project TWO. These discussions were subsequently put on hold, no sessions eventuated, and Iommi began recording solo material with his old ally GLENN HUGHES, the veteran keyboard player DON AIREY, longstanding colleague Geoff Nicholls and former TRAPEZE and JUDAS PRIEST drummer Dave Holland for a projected solo album.

Before this project was finalised however, and from out of the blue, BLACK SABBATH with its classic line-up relented to fan pressure and reunited.

OZZY OSBOURNE wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne, had put together a touring extravaganza in America, modestly titled 'Ozz-fest'. The bill included his own band together with PANTERA, COAL CHAMBER and POWERMAN 5000 to which the classic BLACK SABBATH were due to headline. Osbourne, Iommi and Butler forged the reunion, but Ward felt unable to commit himself citing health reasons, both physical and mental. BLACK SABBATH undertook the tour, which established itself as one of the biggest draws on the American touring circuit that year, aided by OZZY OSBOURNE and FAITH NO MORE drummer Mike Bordin.

Whilst the American dates were under full steam Butler put out his second, and highly commendable, solo affair with his band now dubbed GEEZER, in the form of 'Black Science'. Enterprising bootleggers had also got hold of the Iommi / Hughes / Holland studio recordings and cheekily issued them as 'Eighth Star'.

The BLACK SABBATH legend was kept alive by the release of Ozzy's compilation album, 'The Ozzman Cometh'. Alongside more familiar solo Ozzy outings the CD also boasted four early unreleased BLACK SABBATH tracks with demo versions of 'Fairies Wear Boots', 'Behind The Wall Of Sleep', 'War Pigs' and 'Black Sabbath'.

The band, fronted by Ozzy, announced two shows at the Birmingham NEC in early December 1997, bringing FEAR FACTORY as support. Both shows sold out with a live album issued in October 1998 titled 'Reunion'. However, on May 19th during pre-European tour rehearsals, Ward, who had been suffering chest pains for some time, suffered what was later discovered to be a mild heart attack. With Ward's health still a subject of concern Vinny Appice was pulled from the ranks of DIO to occupy the drum stool. As BLACK SABBATH gigged across Europe and embarked upon further summer US 'Ozzfest' shows, Ward took most of the summer out recuperating after checks in order to resume his rightful position. 'Ozzfest' was back bigger and better, spanning the United States from its inception in New Jersey on the 5th of July to its grand finale in the nation's capitol Washington D.C. on the 2nd of August. The drummer did attend the BLACK SABBATH headlined 'Ozzfest' at Milton Keynes in June, joined by such contemporaries as the FOO FIGHTERS, KORN, PANTERA, SOULFLY, SLAYER, FEAR FACTORY, COAL CHAMBER, LIFE OF AGONY, LIMP BIZKIT, ENTOMBED, HUMAN WASTE PROJECT, PITCHSHIFTER and NEUROSIS. To everyone's amusement Osbourne welcomed him on stage then pulled Ward's trousers down in front of 60'000 bemused onlookers.

BLACK SABBATH put in their, supposed, last ever live gigs dubbed 'The last Supper' at Birmingham's NEC in late December 1999 with Ward back behind the kit. Appice created his own act HUNGER FARM.

2000 found Iommi taking time out to perform with impromptu club act BELCH, a band that featured his ex-SABBATH friend Bev Bevan and comedian Jasper Carrott on vocals. Osbourne himself was hard at work on a further solo album. Tony Iommi, after three decades, finally got around to issuing his first solo album proper simply credited to IOMMI. Both Osbourne and Ward were included on the track 'Who's Fooling Who'. The Iommi solo album also featured a multitude of guest artists including Osbourne, PANTERA's Phil Anselmo, SMASHING PUMPKINS Billy Corgan, FOO FIGHTERS Dave Grohl, HENRY ROLLINS, TYPE O NEGATIVE's Pete Steele, ex-SOUNDGARDEN drummer Matt Cameron and former WHITE ZOMBIE drummer John Tempesta. Ward meantime was still endeavouring to complete his third solo album provisionally titled 'Beyond Aston'. A projected reissue of his first album 'Ward One- Along The Way' was shelved when two songs that featured Ozzy on lead vocals created business complications.

BLACK SABBATH did reunite for a summer 2000 show although after the event they probably wished they hadn't. A surprize performance after an OZZY OSBOURNE gig at the Anaheim 'Weenie Roast' festival ended in debacle when a revolving stage snagged the band's gear resulting in a long embaressing silence and lengthy delays. Undaunted, BLACK SABBATH would rise yet again during 2001 demonstrating renewed vigour as the main act at the California ESPN Action, Sports & Music Awards ceremony on April 7th.

This showing would provide a taster for another fullblown 'Ozzfest' global touring festival. Backing up the steadfast brummies were contemporary acts such as SLIPKNOT, TOOL, PAPA ROACH, AMEN, SOULFLY, DISTURBED and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. MARILYN MANSON would also figure but only for the American dates. Even Geezer Butler's son got involved with his act APARTMENT 26. Also announced was that Ozzy's plans for a solo album would be put on hold whilst recording of a brand new BLACK SABBATH album was undertaken.

A warm-up show just prior to the UK Ozzfest was held at the Birmingham Academy on May 22nd with the band donating all proceeds from the gig to the homeless persons charity St. Basils. Another display of nostalgia came in October with the long overdue officially sanctioned release of archive live material. Divine Recordings, the label established by Sharon Osbourne, would announce the release live tapes culled from the 'Sabotage' world tour entitled suitably 'Live in '75'. However, just after a track listing and release had been set the album was cancelled.

May of 2001 also witnessed a treat for fans when ex BLACK SABBATH men TONY MARTIN and Neil Murray joined RONDINELLI, the band spearheaded by another Sabbath veteran Bobby Rondinelli. Martin also found time to tour the Britisch clubs fronting BAILEY'S COMET as well as promote the 'Cage 2' album, his second in league with Italian guitarist Dario Mollo. Meantime BLACK SABBATH keyboard player donated two of his compositions, 'Facing Hell' and 'Black Illusion', to OZZY OSBOURNE's 2001 album release 'Down To Earth'.

Quite surreally an Estonian outfit RONDELLUS made quite an impact upon the BLACK SABBATH faithful in March of 2002. The group of classically trained medieval folk artists re-interpreted an entire album of Sabs classics sung in operatic played on original medieval instruments with lyrics translated into Latin!

BLACK SABBATH would hit the music TV shows once again in the summer of 2002 courtesy of ex-member Ronnie James Dio and the video for his current single 'Push' from the DIO album 'Killing The Dragon'. A lavish Bill Schacht directed promo film would include appearances from the unlikely TENACIOUS D duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass. TENACIOUS D had already signalled their respect for the band with the inclusion of the track 'Dio' on their current album. The video concept, in which a multitude of special effects would be employed, involved TENACIOUS D jamming BLACK SABBATH's 'Heaven And Hell' as an intro. The Dio era BLACK SABBATH would be kept in the media too with the announcement that artist Greg Hildebrandt's 'Mob Dream', used as the cover art for the classic 1981 album 'Mob Rules' was up for sale at a cool $35'000.

The previously mooted live album would also rear its head again, re-titled 'Past Lives' and now set for for release through Sanctuary Records. The album would comprise the 'Live At Last' album alongside further archive recordings.

Following in the wake of the enormous underground success of medieval music act RONDELLUS' radical re-interpretations of BLACK SABBATH music the CZECH STRING QUARTET weighed in with a classical tribute in September. Yet another BLACK SABBATH tribute album gave a unique spin on the genre, with Martin Atkins of KILLING JOKE's project OPIUM JUKEBOX publishing 'Bhangra Bloody Bhangra', giving classic tracks a distinct Indian flavoured slant, mixing traditional Eastern instrumentation with trance beats and electro. BILL WARD returned to solo action, making available his new single 'Straws' in October.

As OZZY OSBOURNE unveiled a somewhat more traditional flavoured 'Ozzfest', including the reformed JUDAS PRIEST, for the Summer of 2004 the rumour mill soon sparked up once more in regard to a full blown BLACK SABBATH reformation. By March Tony Iommi was in negotiation with Osbourne and as the month closed speculation arose that Geezer Butler had supplanted Rob Nicholson as bassist in Ozzy's band. On May 19th BLACK SABBATH announced the reformation, Osbourne, Iommi and Butler, seemingly once again being joined by Mike Bordin on the drums. However, an outpouring of protest and some heartfelt words from BILL WARD saw the original drummer soon re-instated. In a further surprise move it would be learned that keyboard player Geoff Nicholls was not being invited to play keyboards, thus ending his 24 year unbroken tenure with the band. In his place would be none other than Adam Wakeman, son of legendary YES keyboard player RICK WAKEMAN.

Marking the return of BLACK SABBATH to the live stage the Argentine label Blackstar Records issued a tribute album 'Sabbath Crosses: Tribute To Black Sabbath'. Besides donations from major South American acts such as NATIVO, BARILARI, SAURON, LOS NATAS, HORCAS and BETO VAZQUEZ INFINITY this collection would be noted for a take on 'No Stranger To Love' from veteran act RATA BLANCA featuring a guesting GLENN HUGHES on vocals.

BLACK SABBATH's opening show of the 'Ozzfest' dates in Hartford, Connecticut on 10th July witnessed a hour long set of classics, controversially including a film backdrop for the track 'War Pigs', which included president George W. Bush wearing a superimposed red clown nose cruelly juxtaposed with images of Adolf Hitler. BILL WARD was quick to distance himself from the film, stating that it did not represent his personal views towards President Bush and claiming the video was made without the drummer's "prior knowledge or consent." The offending segment of film would shortly afterwards be removed.

Meantime, word of Tony Iommi's shelved 1996 album would be back in the news when earlier plans to release the Iommi / Hughes sessions as an internet download album were revised. Now scheduled as a regular album to be delivered through Sanctuary Records, the sessions had been somewhat re-worked under the IOMMI handle. The guitarist had re-cut some of the main riffs and Dave Holland's drum work had been wiped and replaced by that of the PAUL RODGERS band and M3 credited Jimmy Copley. In addition, two songs had new bass guitar work added by Iommi's former BLACK SABBATH colleague Neil Murray.

Quite sensationally JUDAS PRIEST's Rob Halford took over from OZZY OSBOURNE for BLACK SABBATH's 26th August concert in Camden, New Jersey. Ozzy was forced out of action by an attack of bronchitis. Ozzy resumed his position to close out the remainder of the tour.

As the year closed ex-BLACK SABBATH singer TONY MARTIN set 'Scream' as the title of his solo record, revealing it was to include two archive tracks, 'Raising Hell' and 'Wings Of Thunder', featuring COZY POWELL. Strangely, the official press statement claimed these songs were COZY POWELL's HAMMER tracks wheras in fact they were BLACK SABBATH outtakes from the 'Tyr' and 'Headless Cross' albums.

In 2005 a documentary film was launched to celebrate former BLACK SABBATH singer IAN GILLAN's four decades of Rock n' Roll. Amongst many other luminaries, the movie including contributions from Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio. Working with producer Nick Blagona, the singer travelled to Toronto to cut an album during February to coincide, this featuring re-works of tracks spanning his entire career, including BLACK SABBATH. Iommi featured on a re-make of 'Trashed' from 1983's 'Born Again' opus.

Taking the BLACK SABBATH tribute concept into new realms would be the April 2005 offering 'Everything Comes & Goes' issued through Temporary Residence. Assembled by names unfamiliar in the Heavy Metal world the record included the likes of 'Reversible Sabbath', a composition from Japanese Noise mongers RUINS that involved a mesh of eight different SABBATH songs played in reverse. FOUR TET delivered an acoustic version of 'Iron Man', GRAILS committed an entirely instrumental version of 'Black Sabbath' whilst Electronica duo MATMOS rendered 'F/X' into a "barely audible jumble of electronic chirping".

First signs of BLACK SABBATH activity for 2005 would be confirmation of an appearance at Denmark's Roskilde festival. As further gig announcements rolled in, including an appearance at the UK's 'Download' festival, filmed for DVD release, German shows opened by SOULFLY and Scandinavian shows supported by VELVET REVOLVER, Osbourne dropped hints that another BLACK SABBATH album was probable. Meantime, the band, seeing Adam Wakeman once again installed on keyboards, headed up another series of US 'Ozzfest' events backed by IRON MAIDEN and a supporting cast including VELVET REVOLVER, ROB ZOMBIE and MUDVAYNE.

Tony Iommi hooked back up with GLENN HUGHES to craft the 'Fused' album. This highly commendable effort arriving shortly after Geezer Butler's latest GZR solo outing 'Ohmwork', prompting rumours of a joint tour. In June the Recording Industry Association of America revealed OZZY OSBOURNE as a solo artist had sold over 28 million albums in the USA, incredibly a full 13 million more albums than BLACK SABBATH. 'Ozzfest' ran without a hitch until the 27th July Holmdel, New Jersey PNC Arts Center, which saw BLACK SABBATH cancelling due to illness afflicting Ozzy. The band did perform an abbreviated set at Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, Illinois on 30th July but then pulled out of the Noblesville, Indiana Verizon Wireless Music Center show and a date at the Germain Theater in Columbus, Ohio. With Ozzy revealing he was suffering from "acid reflux" problems, the scheduled 7th August 'Ozzfest' at Float Rite Park in Somerset, Wisconsin was postponed to 10th September. At this juncture it was revealed that the singer was being coaxed through the shows by Ron Anderson, a retired opera singer, who monitored Ozzy's diet, lifestyle and even spoke directly to him on stage through an earpiece.

BLACK SABBATH's 11th August gig at White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, Washington had fans witnessing the severity of Ozzy's ongoing vocal problems when his voice gave way in the midst of the track 'Dirty Women'. Ozzy threw his microphone down in disgust but was eventually coaked out to struggle through the remainder of the set. The following day the singer made an official announcement "After 10 years, the 'Ozzfest''s name and reputation have been established. It's time for me to move on and do other things."

Ronnie James Dio stunned BLACK SABBATH fans in mid October with a casual remark during a BBC Radio 2 "Masters of Rock" radio interview by stating "Tony Iommi and I are going to write a couple of tracks together for a project that I think is called 'Black Sabbath - The Dio Years'." The following month, at a ceremony held at London's Alexandra Palace, BLACK SABBATH was inducted into the UK 'Music Hall of Fame', joining the likes of BOB DYLAN, PINK FLOYD, JIMI HENDRIX, THE WHO and THE KINKS. During BLACK SABBATH's live performance at the ceremony Ozzy made headlines one more time. Disgusted by the apathetic and muted reaction to the evening celebrations by the celebrity guest list he responded in typical fashion by by mooning the audience.

A further, and very much belated, honour was bestowed upon the band when they were finally inducted into the 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'. None other than METALLICA presented the award, the band also putting in BLACK SABBATH cover versions of 'Iron Man' and 'Hole In The Sky' on the night. To coincide, yet another in a long line of compilations, 'Greatest Hits 1970-78', shifted over 11,000 copies in its first week of US sales to land at number 96 on the charts.

In April Ronnie James Dio travelled to the UK to engage in songwriting sessions with TONY IOMMI. This union would rapidly evolve and reports in the summer suggested a Dio / Iommi / Butler / Ward reunion billed as HEAVEN AND HELL. This would be substantiated with a management statement issued on October 24th. However, the very next day OZZY OSBOURNE put out his reaction to the public by way of a press release stating "Tony Iommi and Ronnie Dio are working on a project together which has nothing to do with BLACK SABBATH. There is only one BLACK SABBATH. Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill will be touring late next year along with a new BLACK SABBATH album. However, Ozzy wishes Tony and Ronnie much success in their project together." Interviewed on the 'Opie and Anthony' syndicated radio show on October 26th Sharon Osbourne made mention of a projected 40th anniversary BLACK SABBATH tour for 2008.

In mid November 2006 TONY IOMMI performed at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia as part of the 30 year anniversary of Russian act ZEMLYANE. The guitarist, alongside a guest cast comprising GLENN HUGHES, RICK WAKEMAN, URIAH HEEP's KEN HENSLEY, KINGDOM COME, NAZARETH, THE ANIMALS and BONNIE TYLER, naturally featured on 'Paranoid'. That same month it was revealed that Bill Ward was not to participate in the HEAVEN AND HELL project and in his stead came Vinny Appice, another well known BLACK SABBATH drummer.

Shortly afterwards the first confirmed live date for HEAVEN AND HELL was announced, as headliners of the Sweden Rock festival.

December 2006 had Tony Iommi revealing titles for three new tracks, 'Shadow Of The Wind', 'The Devil Cries' and ''Ear In The Wall'. For live work the band employed Scott Warren from the DIO band on keyboards. HEAVEN AND HELL Canadian dates, backed by MEGADETH and DOWN, were announced for March. The March 30th Radio City Music Hall, New York City concert sold out less than two hours after tickets went on sale. Indeed, ticket sales were so strong that HEAVEN AND HELL topped the listing of tours in Pollstar's ratings for January.

On May 1st the Rhino Handmade label released 'Black Sabbath: Live At Hammersmith Odeon', a live set culled from a December 31st 1981 'Mob Rules' show, as an individually numbered limited edition of 5,000 copies.

In November 2008 it was learned erstwhile BLACK SABBATH members drummer Bobby Rondinelli and keyboard player Geoff Nicholls had teamed up with guitarist Mitch Perry to form a band fronted by ex-BLACK SHEEP frontman WILLIE BASSE. The following month Tony Iommi took legal action against Live Nation, claiming $80 million dollars of royalties owed by the concert giant after it had sold merchandise, despite the receipt of cease-and-desist orders, bearing the band's logo, despite the 2006 expiration of a merchandising deal.

 

2009

 

The BLACK SABBATH back catalogue was made available digitally for the first time in the U.K. from Monday, 30th March 2009 through Universal Music Catalogue U.K. This coincided with the physical release of 'Paranoid' as a deluxe expanded, three disc edition. This upgraded version included the standard album, a 1974 quadrophonic mix and a disc hosting previously unreleased album track alternate takes, as instrumentals and with different lyrics, recorded at Regent Sound Studios between 16th -17th June 1970.

In May 2009 Ozzy Osbourne filed a lawsuit against his BLACK SABBATH bandmate Tony Iommi, claiming that Iommi illegally took sole ownership of the band's name in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Osbourne sued Iommi for a 50 percent interest in the BLACK SABBATH trademark, plus a portion of Iommi's profits from use of the name. The Manhattan federal court suit also charged that Osbourne's "signature lead vocals" were largely responsible for the band's "extraordinary success," asserting that its popularity plummeted during his absence from 1980 through 1996.

Osbourne released a statement on Friday 29th May, reading "It is with great regret that I had to resort to legal action against my long-term partner Tony Iommi, but after three years of trying to resolve this issue amicably, I feel I have no other recourse.

"As of the mid-1990s, after constant and numerous changes in band members, the brand of 'BLACK SABBATH' was literally in the toilet and Tony Iommi (touring under the name BLACK SABBATH) was reduced to performing in clubs. Since 1997, when Geezer, Bill and myself rejoined the band, BLACK SABBATH has returned to its former glory as we headlined sold-out arenas and amphitheatres playing to upwards of 50,000 people at each show around the world. We worked collectively to restore credibility and bring dignity back to the name 'BLACK SABBATH,' which led to the band being inducted into the U.K. and U.S. Rock And Roll Hall of Fames in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

"Throughout the last 12 years, it was my management representatives who oversaw the marketing and quality control of the 'BLACK SABBATH' brand through Ozzfest, touring, merchandising and album reissues. The name 'BLACK SABBATH' now has a worldwide prestige and merchandising value that it would not have had by continuing on the road it was on prior to the 1997 reunion tour.

"Tony, I am so sorry it's had to get to this point by me having to take this action against you. I don't have the right to speak for Geezer and Bill, but I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally. I hope that by me taking this first step that it will ultimately end up that way. We've all worked too hard and long in our careers to allow you to sell merchandise that features all our faces, old BLACK SABBATH album covers and band logos, and then you tell us that you own the copyright.

"We're all in our 60s now. The BLACK SABBATH legacy should live on long after we have all gone. Please do the right thing."

Osbourne then added in a separate online post, "I am very saddened that I've had to take legal action against Tony. This is something that I've tried to avoid for years. I am not Geezer or Bill's voice. However, 'till the day I die I will not change my mind on this issue. The BLACK SABBATH trademark should be equally owned by Geezer, Bill, Tony and I as the true BLACK SABBATH line-up is Tony, Geezer, Bill and I. We've all been mates since school. I've always said there is an invisible thread that holds us together.

"Tony, let's get this ridiculous issue sorted and move on with our lives. You're 61, I'm 60. I hope that we've got a good 20 years left in us. But if not, God forbid something happens to you. What's going to happen to the BLACK SABBATH trademark? Who's going to oversee it? Don't you think after we're long gone the rights should stay in your family, my family, Bill's family and Geezer's family?"

In mid 2009 former BLACK SABBATH members singer Tony Martin and keyboard player Geoff Nicholls announced the formation of HEADLESS CROSS. This new band was originally set to tour the USA billed as a TONY MARTIN solo band performing tracks from BLACK SABBATH's 1989's 'Headless Cross' album, but upon recommendation from promoters adopted the title of the famous album for the project.

The group included German guitarist Rolf Munkes, of RAZORBACK, bassist Jamie Mallender, from GILLAM and BAILEY'S COMET, and the RAZORBACK and BAILEY'S COMET credited Danny Needham on drums. Dates were scheduled, then postponed. A fresh set of concerts was announced in July and within three days were then finally cancelled, the promoters citing "irreconcilable differences". Martin was quick to reply, stating the reasoning given was "the biggest load of bullocks!!!"

In July it was learned that Tony Iommi had undertaken a deal with reality TV producer Mike Fleiss to priduce a series of horror movies based on the trademark of 'Black Sabbath'.

 

Copyright Musicdetector Websites 2009

Discography

Album


LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH ODEON 2007

BLACK SABBATH: THE DIO YEARS 2007

PAST LIVES 2002

REUNION 1998

FORBIDDEN 1995

CROSS PURPOSES LIVE 1995

CROSS PURPOSES 1994

DEHUMANIZER 1992

TYR 1990

HEADLESS CROSS 1989

THE ETERNAL IDOL 1987

SEVENTH STAR 1986

LIVE EVIL 1983

BORN AGAIN 1983

MOB RULES 1981

HEAVEN AND HELL 1980

LIVE AT LAST 1980

NEVER SAY DIE 1978

TECHNICAL ECSTACY 1976

SABOTAGE 1975

SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH 1973

VOLUME 4 1972

MASTER OF REALITY 1971

BLACK SABBATH 1970

PARANOID 1970

Single/EP


Black Mass EP 1999

Paranoid (Live) 1998

Get A Grip 1995

Master Of Insanity 1992

TV Crimes 1992

Feels Good To Me 1990

Call Of The Wild 1989

Headless Cross (Single) 1989

Devil And Daughter 1989

The Shining 1987

No Stranger To Love 1986

Classic Cuts From The Vaults 1986

Trashed 1983

Turn Up The Night (Live) 1982

Mob Rules (Single) 1981

Paranoico 1981

Lady Evil 1980

Neon Knights 1980

Die Young 1980

Never Say Die (Single) 1978

Hard Road 1978

4 Top Hits From England EP - Vol. 5 1976

Gypsy 1976

It's Alright 1976

Am I Going Insane (Radio) 1975

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath EP 1973

Wicked World 1972

Changes 1972

Wheels Of Confusion 1972

Tomorrow's Dream 1972

Snowblind 1972

Under The Sun 1972

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Single) 1972

Sweet Leaf 1971

Paranoid 1971

After Forever 1971

Paranoid (Single) 1970

Iron Man (Single) 1970

Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me) 1970

The Wizard 1970

N.I.B. 1970

Compilation


GREATEST HITS 1970 - 1978 2006

MILLENIUM COLLECTION 2005

BLACK BOX: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL BLACK SABBATH (1970-1978) 2004

SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE: THE ORIGINAL BLACK SABBATH (1970-1978) 2002

THE SABBATH COLLECTION 2001

ROCK CHAMPIONS 2001

ROCK MOUNTAINS 2001

BESTSELLER 2000

BEST OF CAPITOL YEARS 2000

THE BEST OF BLACK SABBATH 2000

THE SINGLES 2000

ROCK GIANTS 1997

CHILDREN OF THE GRAVE 1996

THE SABBATH STONES 1996

UNDER WHEELS OF CONFUSION 1996

OZZY OSBOURNE: BEST TRACKS 1996

1970-1983 BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL 1995

IRON MAN 1994

THE ULTIMATE IN HEAVY METAL 1992

THE MASTERS OF HEAVY METAL 1991

THE BLACK SABBATH STORY 1991

THE OZZY OSBOURNE YEARS 1991

BACKTRACKIN' 1990

THE BLACK SABBATH COLLECTION VOLUME II 1990

BLACK SABBATH (COMPILATION) 1989

BLACKEST SABBATH 1989

THE KINGS OF HELL 1987

MASTERS OF ROCK 1986

THE BLACK SABBATH COLLECTION 1985

30 ANOS DE MUSICA ROCK-SALVAT 1984

HAND OF DOOM 1984

BEST OF BLACK SABBATH 1983

THE BEST 1983

ROCK HEAVIES 1980

ROCK LEGENDS 1978

STARGOLD 1978

NUNCA DIGAS MORIR 1978

GREATEST HITS 1977

REFLECTION 1976

THE BEST OF 1976

THE ORIGINAL 1976

ATTENTION VOL. II 1975

WE SOLD OUR SOULS FOR ROCK N' ROLL 1975

THE BEST OF THE BLACK SABBATH 1974

ATTENTION 1974

POP GIANTS 1974

ATTENTION! BLACK SABBATH 1973

ROCK POWER: BLACK SABBATH 2 1971

MASTER OF REALITY 1971

Promotion


Selections From The Black Box 2004

Paranoid (Promo) 2004

Psycho Man 1998

Selling My Soul 1998

Black Sabbath 1970-1987 1996

The Bible According To Black Sabbath 1994

Back To Eden 1994

TV Crimes (Promo) 1992

I 1992

Iron Man (Promo) 1990

The Lawmaker 1990

The Gates Of Hell 1990

Black Moon 1989

4 Songs From The Eternal Idol 1987

No Stranger To Love (Promo) 1986

Heart Like A Wheel 1986

Ningun Extrano Para El Amor 1986

Danger Zone 1986

Trashed (Promo) 1983

Trashed (Mono) 1983

Esta Bien 1976

Children Of The Grave (Promo) 1973