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Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath have been so influential in the development of heavy metal rock music as to be a defining force in the style.The grouptooktheblues-rock sound of late-'60s acts like Cream, Blue Cheer, and Vanilla Fudge to its logical conclusion,slowing the tempo, accentuatingthebass,andemphasizing screaming guitar solos and howled vocals full of lyrics expressingmental anguish and macabre fantasies. Iftheirpredecessorsclearlycame out of an electrified blues tradition, Black Sabbathtook that tradition in a new direction, and in so doing helpedgivebirth to amusical style thatcontinued to attrac more

Black Sabbath have been so influential in the development of heavy metal rock music as to be a defining force in the style.The grouptooktheblues-rock sound of late-'60s acts like Cream, Blue Cheer, and Vanilla Fudge to its logical conclusion,slowing the tempo, accentuatingthebass,andemphasizing screaming guitar solos and howled vocals full of lyrics expressingmental anguish and macabre fantasies. Iftheirpredecessorsclearlycame out of an electrified blues tradition, Black Sabbathtook that tradition in a new direction, and in so doing helpedgivebirth to amusical style thatcontinued to attract millions offans decades later.

The group was formed by four teenage friends from Aston, near Birmingham, England: Anthony "Tony" Iommi (b. Feb 19,1948),guitar;William"Bill"Ward (b. May 5, 1948), drums; John "Ozzy" Osbourne (b. December 3, 1948), vocals; and Terence"Geezer" Butler (b. July17,1949), bass.Theyoriginally called their jazz-blues band Polka Tulk, later renaming themselvesEarth, and they played extensively in Europe.Inearly 1969,they decidedto change their name again when they found thatthey were being mistaken for another group called Earth. Butlerhadwritten asong that took its titlefrom a film directed byMario Bava, Black Sabbath, and the group adopted it as their name as well. Astheyattractedattention for theirliveperformances, record labels showed interest, and they were signed to Philips Records in 1969. In January1970,thePhilipssubsidiary Fontanareleased their debut single, "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games with Me)," a cover of a song thathadjustbecome aU.S. hit for Crow; it did not chart.The following month, a different Philips subsidiary, Vertigo, released BlackSabbath's self-titleddebut album,which reached the U.K. Top Ten. Though itwas a less immediate success in the U.S. --where the band's recordings werelicensedto Warner Bros.Records and appeared in May 1970 -- the LPbroke into theAmerican charts in August, reaching the Top 40, remainingin thecharts over a year,and selling a million copies.

Appearing at the start of the '70s, Black Sabbath embodied the Balkanization of popular music that followed therelativelyhomogenoussecondhalf ofthe 1960s. As exemplified by its most popular act, the Beatles, the '60s suggested that manydifferentaspects of popular musiccould beintegrated intoan eclectic style with a broad appeal. the Beatles were as likely toperform an acoustic balladas a hard rocker or R&B-influencedtune. At the start ofthe '70s, however, those styles began tobecome more discrete for new artists, withsoft rockers like JamesTaylor and theCarpenters emerging to playonly balladmaterial, and hard rockers like Led Zeppelin and Grand FunkRailroad taking a radicallydifferent course,while R&B musicturned increasinglymilitant. The first wave of rock critics, which had come intoexistence with the Beatles,was dismayedwiththis development, and the new acts tendedto be poorly reviewed despite their popularity. BlackSabbath, which took anevenmore extreme tackthan the still blues- and folk-based Led Zeppelin,was lambasted by critics (and thoughtheyeventually made their peacewith Zeppelin, theynever did with Sabbath). But the band had discovered anew audience eagerfor itsuncompromising approach.

Black Sabbath quickly followed their debut album with a second album, Paranoid, in September 1970. The title track, releasedas asingleinadvance ofthe LP, hit the Top Five in the U.K., and the album went to number one there. In the U.S., wherethe first album had justbegun tosell,Paranoid washeld up for release until January 1971, again preceded by the title track,which made the singles charts inNovember; thealbumbroke into the Top Tenin March 1971 and remained in the charts overa year, eventually selling over four million copies,by far theband's best-selling effort. (Its sales werestimulated by thebelated release of one of its tracks, "Iron Man," as a U.S. single in early1972; the45 got almosthalfway up the charts, theband'sbest showing for an American single..

Master of Reality, the third album, followed in August 1971, reaching the Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic and sellingover amillioncopies.BlackSabbath, Vol. 4 (September 1972) was another Top Ten million-seller. For Sabbath BloodySabbath (November 1973), thebandbrought inYeskeyboard player Rick Wakeman on one track, signaling a slight change inmusical direction; it was Black Sabbath's fifthstraightTop Ten hitand million-seller. In 1974, the group went throughmanagerial disputes that idled them for an extended period. Whentheyreturned to action inJuly 1975 withtheir sixth album,Sabotage, they were welcomed back at home, but in the U.S. the musical climatehadchanged, making thingsmore difficultfor analbum-oriented band with a heavy style, and though the LP reached the Top 20, it did notmatchprevious sales levels.BlackSabbath's record labelsquickly responded with a million-selling double-LP compilation, We Sold Our Soul forRock'n' Roll(December 1975), andthe band contemplated a morepronounced change of musical style. This brought aboutdisagreement,withguitarist Iommi wanting to addelements to the sound, including horns, andsinger Osbourne resisting any variation intheformula. TechnicalEcstasy (October 1976), whichadopted some of Iommi's innovations, was anothergood -- but not great -- seller, andOsbourne's frustrationeventually led to his quitting theband in November 1977. He was replaced for somelivedates by former Savoy Brownsinger Dave Walker,then returned in January 1978. BlackSabbath recorded their eighth album,Never Say Die!(September 1978), the titletrack becoming a U.K.Top 40 hit before the LP's release and"Hard Road" makingthe Top 40 afterwards. But the singlesdid not improve thealbum's commercialsuccess, which was again modest,andOsbourne left Black Sabbath for a solo career, replaced in June 1979 byformerRainbow singer RonnieJames Dio (b. July 10,1949, d. May 16,2010). (Also during this period, keyboardist Geoff Nichols became a regularpartof the band'sperformingand recording efforts, though he was notofficially considered a bandmember until later..

The new lineup took its time getting into the recording studio, not releasing its first effort until April 1980 with Heaven andHell. Theresultwasacommercial resurgence. In the U.S., the album was a million-seller; in Britain, it was a Top Ten hit thatthrew off two chartsingles,"NeonKnights"and "Die Young." (At the same time, the band's former British record label issued afive-year old concert album, BlackSabbathLive atLast, that wasquickly withdrawn, though not before making the U.K. TopFive, and reissued "Paranoid" as a single, getting itinto theTop 20.)Meanwhile, drummerBill Ward left Black Sabbath due toill health and was replaced by Vinny Appice. The lineup of Iommi,Butler, Dio,and Appicethen recorded Mob Rules(November1981), which was almost as successful as its predecessor: In the U.S., it went gold,and in theU.K. itreached the Top 20and spawned twochart singles, the title track and "Turn Up the Night." Next on the schedule was a concertalbum,butIommiand Dio clashed over the mixing of it, andby the time Live Evil appeared in January 1983, Dio had left Black Sabbath,takingAppicewithhim.

The group reorganized by persuading original drummer Bill Ward to return and, in a move that surprised heavy metal fans,recruitingIanGillan(b.August 19, 1945), former lead singer of Black Sabbath rivals Deep Purple. This lineup -- Iommi, Butler,Ward, and Gillan --recordedBornAgain,released in September 1983. Black Sabbath hit the road prior to the album's release,with drummer Bev Bevan (b.November25,1946)substituting for Ward, who would return to the band in the spring of 1984.The album was a Top Five hit in the U.K. but onlymade theTop 40inthe U.S. Gillan remained with Black Sabbath until March1984, when he joined a Deep Purple reunion and was replaced bysingerDave Donato,whowas in the band until Octoberwithout being featured on any of its recordings.

Black Sabbath reunited with Ozzy Osbourne for its set at the Live Aid concert on July 13, 1985, but soon after theperformance,bassistGeezerButlerleft the band, and with that the group became guitarist Tony Iommi's vehicle, a factemphasized by the next album,SeventhStar, releasedin January1986 and credited to "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi."On this release, the lineup was Iommi (guitar);anotherformer DeepPurple singer, GlennHughes (b. August 21, 1952)(vocals); Dave Spitz (bass); Geoff Nichols (keyboards); and Eric Singer(drums).The albumwas a modestcommercialsuccess, but the new band began to fragment immediately, with Hughes replaced by singer RayGillen forthepromotional tourin March1986.

With Black Sabbath now consisting of Iommi and his employees, personnel changes were rapid. The Eternal Idol (November1987),whichfailedtocrack the U.K. Top 50 or the U.S. Top 100, featured a returning Bev Bevan, bassist Bob Daisley, andsinger Tony Martin. BevanandDaisleydidn'tstay long, and there were several replacements in the bass and drum positionsover the next couple of years. HeadlessCross(April 1989),theband's first album for I.R.S. Records, found veteran drummerCozy Powell (b. December 29, 1947, d. April 5, 1998)andbassist LaurenceCottlejoining Iommi and Martin. It marked a slightuptick in Black Sabbath's fortunes at home, with the title songmanaging aweek in thesinglescharts. Shortly after itsrelease, Cottle was replaced by bassist Neil Murray. With Geoff Nichols back onkeyboards, thislineup madeTYR(August1990), which charted in the Top 40 in the U.K. but became Black Sabbath's first regular album to missthe U.S. charts.

Iommi was able to reunite the 1979-1983 lineup of the band -- himself, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio, and Vinny Appice -. forDehumanizer(June1992), which brought Black Sabbath back into the American Top 50 for the first time in nine years,while in the U.K.thealbum spawned "TVCrimes,"their first Top 40 hit in a decade. And on November 15, 1992, Iommi, Butler,and Appice backed Ozzy Osbourneaspart of what wasbilled as thesinger's final live appearance. Shortly after, it wasannounced that Osbourne would be rejoining Black Sabbath.

That didn't happen -- yet. Instead, Dio and Appice left again, and Iommi replaced them by bringing back Tony MartinandaddingdrummerBobRondinelli. Cross Purposes (February 1994) was a modest seller, and, with Iommi apparently maintaining aRolodex ofall formermembersfromwhich to pick and choose, the next album, Forbidden (June 1995), featured returningmusicians Cozy Powell, GeoffNichols, andNeil Murray,alongwith Iommi and Martin. The disc spent only one week in theBritish charts, suggesting that Black Sabbath finallyhadexhausted theircommercialappeal, at least as a record seller. Withthat, the group followed the lead of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac,puttingthe most popular lineupof theband backtogether for a live album with a couple of new studio tracks on it. Recorded in the band'shometown ofBirmingham,England,inDecember 1997, the two-CD set Reunion -- featuring all four of Black Sabbath's original members,Iommi, Osbourne,Butler,and Ward --wasreleased in October 1998. It charted only briefly in the U.K., but in the U.S. it just missed reachingthe TopTen andwent platinum. The track"IronMan" won Black Sabbath their first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. Theband touredthrough the endof 1999, concluding theirreunion touron December 22, 1999, back in Birmingham.

In February 2001, Black Sabbath announced that they would reunite once again to headline the sixth edition ofOzzfest,Osbourne'ssummerconcertfestival, playing 29 cities in the U.S. beginning in June. More surprisingly, the group alsoannounced theirintention to record astudioalbum of all-newmaterial, the original lineup's first since 1978. By the end of theyear, a failed recording sessionwith producer RickRubin provedwhat an unreasonableidea this was, and the band laiddormant while Osbourne enjoyed scoring a hit TV seriesthe followingspring. The band splitonce more. Osbourne wentonrecording and touring on his own, while the Iommi and Butler reunited withVinny Appiceand Ronnie James Dio toform Heaven& Hell. The bandrecorded a live album at Radio City Music Hall, performing Sabbathmaterial from theHeaven and Hell andMobRules albums in 2007, before releasinga studio effort entitled Devil You Know in 2009. Dio wasdiagnosed withcancerand passed away in 2010that year.

In late 2011, all four of Black Sabbath's original members announced yet another reunion; this time they claimed the bandwouldrecordnewmaterialas well as tour. Iommi was diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma early in 2012, however, and itwas spring beforeOsbourne,Iommi, andButler tookthe stage on May 19th at O2 Academy in Birmingham, England for theirfirst show together since 2005. At theend of thesummer itwas announcedthat the band was indeed in the study workingon material for a new album. The long-awaited "13"surfaced in theearly summerof 2013; however,drummer Bill Ward wasabsent from the recording process completely. In his stead was RageAgainst theMachine drummerBrad Wilk, whoprovideddrums for the album as well as its accompanying live dates. « hide

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1,065 Votes

546 Votes
Cross Purposes

391 Votes

680 Votes

456 Votes
Headless Cross

492 Votes
The Eternal Idol

422 Votes
Seventh Star

463 Votes
Born Again

704 Votes
Mob Rules

1,027 Votes
Heaven and Hell

1,758 Votes
Never Say Die!

803 Votes
Technical Ecstasy

824 Votes

1,364 Votes
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

1,926 Votes
Vol. 4

1,828 Votes
Master of Reality

2,855 Votes

4,053 Votes
Black Sabbath

2,974 Votes
The End

42 Votes
1969 Demo

34 Votes
Black Mass

2 Votes
Psycho Man

1 Votes
Live Albums
Live... Gathered in Their Masses

19 Votes
Live at Hammersmith Odeon

36 Votes
Past Lives

101 Votes

143 Votes
Cross Purposes — Live

36 Votes
Live Evil

143 Votes
Live at Last

95 Votes
The Ultimate Collection

2 Votes
Iron Man — The Best of Black Sabbath

56 Votes
The Rules of Hell

25 Votes
The Dio Years

112 Votes
Greatest Hits 1970–1978

171 Votes
Black Box

48 Votes
Symptom of the Universe

64 Votes
The Singles

10 Votes
The Best of Black Sabbath

70 Votes
Under Wheels of Confusion

4 Votes
The Sabbath Stones

23 Votes
We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll

246 Votes

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