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01-14 Black Sabbath's farewell gift
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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 group took theblues. rock sound of late-'60s acts like Cream, Blue Cheer, and Vanilla Fudge to its logical conclusion,slowing the tempo, accentuating the bass,and emphasizing screaming guitar solos and howled vocals full of lyrics expressingmental anguish and macabre fantasies. If their predecessorsclearly came out of an electrified blues tradition, Black Sabbathtook that tradition in a new direction, and in so doing helped give birth to amusical style that continu ...read 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 group took theblues. rock sound of late-'60s acts like Cream, Blue Cheer, and Vanilla Fudge to its logical conclusion,slowing the tempo, accentuating the bass,and emphasizing screaming guitar solos and howled vocals full of lyrics expressingmental anguish and macabre fantasies. If their predecessorsclearly came out of an electrified blues tradition, Black Sabbathtook that tradition in a new direction, and in so doing helped give birth to amusical style that continued 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. July 17, 1949), bass.They originally called their jazz-blues band Polka Tulk, later renaming themselvesEarth, and they played extensively in Europe. In early 1969,they decided to change their name again when they found thatthey were being mistaken for another group called Earth. Butler had written asong that took its title from a film directed byMario Bava, Black Sabbath, and the group adopted it as their name as well. As they attractedattention for their liveperformances, record labels showed interest, and they were signed to Philips Records in 1969. In January 1970, thePhilipssubsidiary Fontana released their debut single, "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games with Me)," a cover of a song that hadjust become aU.S. hit for Crow; it did not chart. The following month, a different Philips subsidiary, Vertigo, released BlackSabbath's self-titled debut album,which reached the U.K. Top Ten. Though it was a less immediate success in the U.S. --where the band's recordings were licensed to Warner Bros.Records and appeared in May 1970 -- the LP broke into theAmerican charts in August, reaching the Top 40, remaining in the charts 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 the relativelyhomogenous secondhalf of the 1960s. As exemplified by its most popular act, the Beatles, the '60s suggested that manydifferent aspects of popular music could beintegrated into an eclectic style with a broad appeal. the Beatles were as likely toperform an acoustic ballad as a hard rocker or R&B-influencedtune. At the start of the '70s, however, those styles began tobecome more discrete for new artists, with soft rockers like James Taylor and theCarpenters emerging to play only balladmaterial, and hard rockers like Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad taking a radically different course,while R&B musicturned increasingly militant. The first wave of rock critics, which had come into existence with the Beatles, was dismayedwiththis development, and the new acts tended to be poorly reviewed despite their popularity. Black Sabbath, which took aneven more extreme tackthan the still blues- and folk-based Led Zeppelin, was lambasted by critics (and though theyeventually made their peace with Zeppelin, theynever did with Sabbath). But the band had discovered a new audience eagerfor its uncompromising approach.

Black Sabbath quickly followed their debut album with a second album, Paranoid, in September 1970. The title track, releasedas a single inadvance of the 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 just begun to sell,Paranoid was held up for release until January 1971, again preceded by the title track,which made the singles charts in November; the albumbroke into the Top Ten in March 1971 and remained in the charts overa year, eventually selling over four million copies, by far the band's best-selling effort. (Its sales were stimulated by thebelated release of one of its tracks, "Iron Man," as a U.S. single in early 1972; the 45 got almosthalfway up the charts, theband's best 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 a million copies.Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 (September 1972) was another Top Ten million-seller. For Sabbath BloodySabbath (November 1973), the band brought inYes keyboard player Rick Wakeman on one track, signaling a slight change inmusical direction; it was Black Sabbath's fifth straight Top Ten hitand million. seller. In 1974, the group went throughmanagerial disputes that idled them for an extended period. When they returned to action inJuly 1975 with their sixth album,Sabotage, they were welcomed back at home, but in the U.S. the musical climate had changed, making thingsmore difficultfor an album-oriented band with a heavy style, and though the LP reached the Top 20, it did not match previous sales levels.BlackSabbath's record labels quickly responded with a million-selling double-LP compilation, We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll(December 1975), andthe band contemplated a more pronounced change of musical style. This brought about disagreement,with guitarist Iommi wanting to addelements to the sound, including horns, and singer Osbourne resisting any variation in theformula. Technical Ecstasy (October 1976), whichadopted some of Iommi's innovations, was another good -- but not great -- seller, and Osbourne's frustration eventually led to his quitting theband in November 1977. He was replaced for some livedates by former Savoy Brown singer Dave Walker, then returned in January 1978. BlackSabbath recorded their eighth album,Never Say Die! (September 1978), the title track becoming a U.K. Top 40 hit before the LP's release and"Hard Road" makingthe Top 40 afterwards. But the singles did not improve the album's commercial success, which was again modest,andOsbourne left Black Sabbath for a solo career, replaced in June 1979 by former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio (b. July 10,1949, d. May 16,2010). (Also during this period, keyboardist Geoff Nichols became a regular part of the band's performingand 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. The result was acommercial resurgence. In the U.S., the album was a million-seller; in Britain, it was a Top Ten hit thatthrew off two chart singles, "NeonKnights" and "Die Young." (At the same time, the band's former British record label issued afive-year old concert album, Black Sabbath Live atLast, that was quickly withdrawn, though not before making the U.K. TopFive, and reissued "Paranoid" as a single, getting it into the Top 20.)Meanwhile, drummer Bill 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 the U.K. itreached the Top 20and spawned two chart singles, the title track and "Turn Up the Night." Next on the schedule was a concert album, butIommiand Dio clashed over the mixing of it, and by the time Live Evil appeared in January 1983, Dio had left Black Sabbath, takingAppice withhim.

The group reorganized by persuading original drummer Bill Ward to return and, in a move that surprised heavy metal fans,recruiting Ian Gillan (b.August 19, 1945), former lead singer of Black Sabbath rivals Deep Purple. This lineup -- Iommi, Butler,Ward, and Gillan -- recorded Born Again,released in September 1983. Black Sabbath hit the road prior to the album's release,with drummer Bev Bevan (b. November 25, 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 only made the Top 40 inthe U.S. Gillan remained with Black Sabbath until March1984, when he joined a Deep Purple reunion and was replaced by singer Dave Donato,who was 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, bassist GeezerButler left the band, and with that the group became guitarist Tony Iommi's vehicle, a factemphasized by the next album, Seventh Star, releasedin January 1986 and credited to "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi."On this release, the lineup was Iommi (guitar); another former DeepPurple singer, Glenn Hughes (b. August 21, 1952)(vocals); Dave Spitz (bass); Geoff Nichols (keyboards); and Eric Singer (drums). The albumwas a modest commercialsuccess, but the new band began to fragment immediately, with Hughes replaced by singer Ray Gillen for thepromotional tourin March 1986.

With Black Sabbath now consisting of Iommi and his employees, personnel changes were rapid. The Eternal Idol (November1987), which failed tocrack the U.K. Top 50 or the U.S. Top 100, featured a returning Bev Bevan, bassist Bob Daisley, andsinger Tony Martin. Bevan and Daisley didn'tstay long, and there were several replacements in the bass and drum positionsover the next couple of years. Headless Cross (April 1989), theband's first album for I.R.S. Records, found veteran drummerCozy Powell (b. December 29, 1947, d. April 5, 1998) and bassist Laurence Cottlejoining Iommi and Martin. It marked a slightuptick in Black Sabbath's fortunes at home, with the title song managing a week in the singlescharts. Shortly after itsrelease, Cottle was replaced by bassist Neil Murray. With Geoff Nichols back on keyboards, this lineup made TYR(August1990), which charted in the Top 40 in the U.K. but became Black Sabbath's first regular album to miss the U.S. charts.

Iommi was able to reunite the 1979-1983 lineup of the band -- himself, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio, and Vinny Appice --for Dehumanizer(June 1992), which brought Black Sabbath back into the American Top 50 for the first time in nine years,while in the U.K. the album spawned "TVCrimes," their first Top 40 hit in a decade. And on November 15, 1992, Iommi, Butler,and Appice backed Ozzy Osbourne as part of what wasbilled as the singer'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 Martin andadding drummer BobRondinelli. Cross Purposes (February 1994) was a modest seller, and, with Iommi apparently maintaining aRolodex of all former members fromwhich to pick and choose, the next album, Forbidden (June 1995), featured returningmusicians Cozy Powell, Geoff Nichols, and Neil Murray, alongwith Iommi and Martin. The disc spent only one week in theBritish charts, suggesting that Black Sabbath finally had exhausted their commercialappeal, at least as a record seller. Withthat, the group followed the lead of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, putting the most popular lineup of theband backtogether for a live album with a couple of new studio tracks on it. Recorded in the band's hometown of Birmingham, 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 reaching the TopTen and went platinum. The track"Iron Man" won Black Sabbath their first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. Theband toured through the end of 1999, concluding theirreunion tour on December 22, 1999, back in Birmingham.

In February 2001, Black Sabbath announced that they would reunite once again to headline the sixth edition of Ozzfest,Osbourne's summerconcert festival, playing 29 cities in the U.S. beginning in June. More surprisingly, the group alsoannounced their intention to record a studioalbum of all-new material, the original lineup's first since 1978. By the end of theyear, a failed recording session with producer Rick Rubin provedwhat an unreasonable idea this was, and the band laiddormant while Osbourne enjoyed scoring a hit TV series the following spring. The band splitonce more. Osbourne went onrecording and touring on his own, while the Iommi and Butler reunited with Vinny Appice and Ronnie James Dio toform Heaven& Hell. The band recorded a live album at Radio City Music Hall, performing Sabbath material from the Heaven and Hell andMobRules albums in 2007, before releasing a studio effort entitled Devil You Know in 2009. Dio was diagnosed with cancerand 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 bandwould record newmaterial as well as tour. Iommi was diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma early in 2012, however, and itwas spring before Osbourne, Iommi, andButler took the stage on May 19th at O2 Academy in Birmingham, England for theirfirst show together since 2005. At the end of the summer itwas announced that the band was indeed in the study workingon material for a new album. The long-awaited "13" surfaced in the early summerof 2013; however, drummer Bill Ward wasabsent from the recording process completely. In his stead was Rage Against the Machine drummerBrad Wilk, who provideddrums for the album as well as its accompanying live dates. « hide

Similar Bands: Heaven and Hell, Ozzy Osbourne, Pentagram, Tony Iommi, Dio

LPs
13
06/10/2013

3.6
935 Votes
Forbidden
1995

1.7
477 Votes
Cross Purposes
1994

3
338 Votes
Dehumanizer
1992

3.6
601 Votes
Tyr
1990

3
398 Votes
Headless Cross
1989

3.3
433 Votes
The Eternal Idol
1987

3.1
364 Votes
Seventh Star
1986

2.5
393 Votes
Born Again
1983

2.7
612 Votes
Mob Rules
1981

3.9
920 Votes
Heaven and Hell
1980

4.3
1,592 Votes
Never Say Die!
1978

2.7
714 Votes
Technical Ecstasy
1976

2.8
740 Votes
Sabotage
1975

4
1,221 Votes
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973

4.2
1,738 Votes
Vol. 4
1972

4
1,646 Votes
Master of Reality
1971

4.5
2,568 Votes
Paranoid
1970

4.5
3,726 Votes
Black Sabbath
1970

4.4
2,690 Votes
EPs
The End
2016

3.1
31 Votes
1969 Demos
1969

3.4
32 Votes
Live Albums
Gathered In Their Masses
11/26/2013

3.9
19 Votes
California Jam 1974
01/01/2013

3.4
4 Votes
Live at Hammersmith Odeon
2007

4.3
34 Votes
Past Lives
2002

3.9
99 Votes
Reunion
1998

3.8
140 Votes
Cross Purposes Live
1995

3.1
35 Votes
Live Evil
1982

3.6
132 Votes
Live at Last
1980

3.2
91 Votes
Compilations
The Ozzy Years
2010

4.7
10 Votes
Greatest Hits
2009

3.7
53 Votes
The Rules of Hell
2008

4.2
23 Votes
The Dio Years
2007

4
108 Votes
Greatest Hits 1970-1978
2006

4
170 Votes
Black Box
2004

4.4
46 Votes
Symptom of the Universe
2002

4.2
64 Votes
The Best of Black Sabbath
2000

4.2
67 Votes
The Sabbath Stones
1996

3.2
23 Votes
The Collection
1992

3.3
2 Votes
We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll
1975

4.1
243 Votes

Contributors: forkliftjones, Oswaldo88, Mad., zaruyache, taylormemer, AleksiS, austin888, ThrashingWhiplash, RavenRock, Nagrarok, sabs93, IvanStarr, rockandmetaljunkie, Meatplow, Willie, Iai, Greggers, CrazyFool84, EFFYU, Azazel223, Eliminator, HenchmanOfSanta, Mikesn, Ephemeral, blekzebbed, thislifeissacrifice, Hewitt, Nexion, Alex101, pfc_mike, Thor, power_lutin, BMDrummer, Insurrection, tempest--, BenMorrison, KILL, Nagrarok, MrSirLordGentleman, Achilles32094, taylormemer, KILL10, Deviant., rockandmetaljunkie, RavenRock, IvanStarr, StevenHyde, Mikesn,

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