by Steve Weatherholt

Oh no, no, please God help me…get a ticket, or better yet, a back stage pass to the Mother of All Reunions. Think for a moment about this misfit group of crazies and what they started - the thundering sound they produced, the praise they should have received, the insanity that ensued, the drugs and alcohol, the writs, the exploitations, the internal/external forces grinding them down, the name calling, the finger pointing, and the fact that they all are still alive! Is this for money? Does it just feel right? Who gives a shit! This is the reunion of soulmates the metal crowd has been waiting for. A metalhead's wet dream, right up there with that chic in spandex. I have had the honor of seeing them twice: once on the Mob Rules tour, minus Ozzy and Bill; and this past year at the Danish Roskilde Festival, minus Bill Ward. I have seen Ozzy twice: on the Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Mad Man tours. And barring any unfortunate undertakings, I'll finally get to see the magical foursome together this January.

Tony Iommi - legendary riff master; Geezer Butler - magical lyricist and bassist; Ozzy Osbourne - lyricist and creator of the banshee cry; and Bill Ward - the BEST drummer, period! Go back to bed you Moon fans.

[ black sabbath - 1970 ]

The reunion of the monstrous sound of Black Sabbath has been speculated, theorized, and dreamed of by thousands of peoples the world around for over a decade. Are these old men, believing the old (black) magic is still there, rejuvenated and ready to embark on a world dominating tour? Yes, if you listen to their new double live cd. This is the catalytic kick in the ass that the new-coming millennium needs; the M-80 in the ear of all the past critics; and the unearthing the dying metal scene needs. It would be hard to calculate how many bands this foursome has mutated and spawned, but in their wake many cans of hair spray have been sold. Reunion? Yeah, a reunion of the late sixties and early seventies, whipping boy. Hated by critics and religions of all forms, these were the pioneers of a powerful new sound that blew the flowers out of the hair and the peace signs off the tie-dyed shirts of the flower totin', peace lovin' grass humpers of the late sixties. Blew them off like a bazooka at close range. Sure, other bands thought they were loud and heavy, but no one could match the relentless savage attack these Birmies could produce. Bands like Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, Blind Faith, and all the others could not even carry their drugs - much less their music.

[ black sabbath - 1998 ]

Besides having created a new branch on the tree of music, Black Sabbath always believed in what they were doing and explored many different dimensions in their music, creating new genres and new generations of bands the world over. I would probably guess that any metal band who thought they had balls included a Sabbath cover in their song lists. Their influence can be heard from Van Halen, to Metallica, to the Melvins, to Soundgarden (Badmotorfinger being the lost Sabbath lp); to clone bands Cathedral To Sleep and Fu Manchu; to bands that recorded Sabbath songs: Dickies ("Paranoid" at double-speed), local hardcore heroes The Fartz ("Children of the Grave"), Doom ("Symptom of the Universe"), and 1000 Homo DJs ("Supernaut" with Trent Reznor singing); to the Dayglo Abortions "Acting Like Black Sabbath," a song written about the band. Finally, there are the ultimate fan appreciation tribute albums: Nativity In Black with Therapy? (shitting themselves at having Ozzy sing with them); and Masters of Misery, a tribute released on Earache Records. Shit, if Beethoven were alive he would probably cover a Sabbath song too. All of this and more in honor of four young men from in and around Birmingham, England.
[badmotorfinger - the lost sabbath lp ]

Black Sabbath formed in 1968. Tony Iommi and Bill Ward were hitting the northern roads and playing the blues in a band called Mythology. Bill ran into Geezer - who was literally trying to climb the walls (undoubtedly chemically induced) and not figuring out why he could not do this - backstage at one of these clubs. Geezer was in the band Rare Breed, and Bill took a liking to this psycho and the outrageous clothing that he wore. The three of them formed the band Earth and set out to find a singer. They came upon this nutcase of an ad: "Ozzy Zig," which turned out to be Ozzy Osbourne. These four picked up rhythm guitarist Jimmy Philips and a sax player named Acker. Geezer moved to bass and they set to tour northern England as Ploka Tulk. This was a short lived sextet when Jimmy and Acker were determined by the rest of the band to be "total shit." With their departure Bill suggested renaming the band Earth, and they toured locally, playing the club scene.

Tony, thinking that the grass was greener, quit to join Jethro Tull. His stint in Tull was brief - only long enough to be involved with the taping of the rolling Stones Great Rock 'n' Roll Circus movie and gaining the work ethic needed for a band. He returned to his old pals in Earth and was again they set about touring. After finding out there was another live band by the same name, they changed theirs once again - this time to Black Sabbath. The name comes their second song, "Black Sabbath," which was named after the 1964 Boris Karloff movie. This oddball group was not taken kindly to by the local clubs, whose owners didn't know what to make of all the outrageous clothing and Hell-inspired heavy music.

It was during this time they met their soon-to-be manger Jim Simpson, himself a club owner as well as a jazz musician. Through Jim they got gigs at the famous Star Club in Hamburg, Germany - honing their live performance skills and breaking a few Beatles attendance records along the way. Thinking Sabbathmania, super-stardom was unfortunately not to be had, but this did not deter them from their goal. Believing in what they were doing, they trusted each other and stuck to the road they chose: rebellious, angry young men; violent and extremely loud - a loudness that was used to stop people from talking while they played. Their early demos received rejection after rejection from the major record companies, but through their manager Jim they were one of the first signings to the off-shoot Vertigo label.

[ boris karloff - black sabbath ]

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