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Black Sabbath - Heavy Metal Rock Back ~ Biography


Black Sabbath are an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, singer Ozzy Osbourne, and drummer Bill Ward. The band have since experienced multiple line-up changes, with guitarist Iommi being the only constant presence in the band through the years. Originally formed as a blues rock band, the group soon adopted the Black Sabbath moniker and began incorporating occult themes with horror-inspired lyrics and tuned-down guitars. Despite an association with these two themes, Black Sabbath also composed songs dealing with social instability, political corruption, the dangers of drug abuse and apocalyptic prophecies of the horrors of war.

Osbourne’s regular abuse of alcohol and other drugs led to his dismissal from the band in 1979. He was replaced by former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Following two albums with Dio, Black Sabbath endured countless personnel changes in the 1980s and 1990s that included vocalists Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, Ray Gillen and Tony Martin, as well as several drummers and bassists. In 1992, Iommi and Butler rejoined Dio and drummer Vinny Appice to record Dehumanizer. The original line-up reunited with Osbourne in 1997 and released a live album Reunion. Black Sabbath’s 19th studio album, 13, which features all of the original members but Ward, was released in June 2013.

Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970) and Master of Reality (1971). They were ranked by MTV as the “Greatest Metal Band” of all time, and placed second in VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” list. Rolling Stone magazine ranked them number 85 in their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. They have sold over 70 million records worldwide. Black Sabbath were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. They have also won two Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance.

In spite of their name, the crosses erected onstage, and songs dealing with apocalypse, death, and destruction, the band members insisted their interest in the black arts was nothing more than innocuous curiosity, and in time, Black Sabbath’s princes-of-darkness image faded. Eventually, so did its record sales. Aside from a platinum best-of, We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll (1976), not one of three LPs from 1975 to 1978 went gold. Osbourne, reeling from drug use and excessive drinking, quit the band briefly in late 1977 (ex–Savoy Brown and Fleetwood Mac vocalist Dave Walker filled his shoes for some live dates). In January 1979 he was fired. Ronnie James Dio, formerly of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, replaced Osbourne.

Although Dio could belt with the best of them, Sabbath would never be the same. Its first album with Dio, Heaven and Hell (1980), went platinum; its second, Mob Rules (1981), gold. But thereafter, the group’s LPs sold fewer and fewer copies, as Black Sabbath went through one personnel change after another. Ill health forced Bill Ward out of the band in 1980; Carmine Appice’s brother Vinnie took his place. Friction between Iommi and Dio led the singer to quit angrily in 1982; he took Appice with him to start his own band, Dio. Vocalists over the years have included Dave Donato, Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, another ex-member of Deep Purple Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin, and Dio again.

By 1986’s Seventh Star, only Iommi remained from the original lineup. He had to wince when Geezer Butler teamed up with Osbourne, who had since launched a he phenomenally successful solo career, in 1988, though the bassist did return to the fold three years later. Despite bitterness expressed in the press between Osbourne and Iommi, the original foursome reunited in 1985 at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, and again in 1992, at the end of what was supposedly Osbourne’s last tour. Throughout 1993 word had it that Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, and Ward would tour, but by year’s end Osbourne had backed out, allegedly over money.

The indefatigable Tony Iommi went right back to work with Butler, rehiring vocalist Tony Martin and adding former Rainbow drummer Rob Rondinelli. That lineup proved as unstable as the previous one, with drummers coming, going, and returning over the following years. Despite hiring Body Count’s Ernie C to produce 1995’s Forbidden (and inviting guest vocalist Ice-T to sing on a track), Black Sabbath seemed increasingly out of touch with the times, and at the end of the Forbidden Tour, the band unofficially went on hiatus.

But not for long, as Iommi, Butler, and Osbourne reunited to headline 1997’s Ozzfest. Ward was not invited (he was replaced by Faith No More’s Mike Bordin), but he did participate in two shows in the band’s hometown of Birmingham, England, in December 1997. The resulting live album, Reunion (Number 11, 1998), also featured two new studio tracks, including the single “Psycho Man.” The album went platinum in the U.S., and the live version of “Iron Man” earned the band its first Grammy for Best Metal Performance — nearly 30 years after the song was originally released. The ensuing tour lasted two years and ended in December 1999.

Tony Iommi released his first solo album in 2000; a prestigious roster of guest singers (Osbourne, Billy Corgan, Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl) handled the vocals. Among metalheads, Iommi is something of a guitar god, due in part to the fact that he plays spectacularly despite having lost the tips of two right fingers in a welding accident at age 17. His hero was the great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who also lost two fingers and yet continued to play.

In mid-2001 it was announced that all four original members were writing material for a new Black Sabbath album to be produced by Rick Rubin. The band scrapped all the material and the album never materialized, although Sabbath performed one new song, “Scary Dreams,” on that year’s Ozzfest. The band was put on hold throughout 2002 as Osbourne refocused on his solo music and new MTV reality show, The Osbournes, in which his family was portrayed as a sort of real-life Munsters. The band came back together for the 2004 and 2005 Ozzfest tours.

In 2005, Black Sabbath was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, and the following year, after many years of eligibility, the band made it into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2007, Iommi and Butler reunited with Appice and Dio to record new material for the compilation Black Sabbath: The Dio Years (Number 54); that configuration of the group toured as Heaven and Hell (to avoid being confused with the Osbourne-fronted Black Sabbath) into the year 2008. On April 28, 2009, Heaven and Hell released its debut album, The Devil You Know.

Studio albums
Black Sabbath (1970)
Paranoid (1970)
Master of Reality (1971)
Vol. 4 (1972)
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)
Sabotage (1975)
Technical Ecstasy (1976)
Never Say Die! (1978)
Heaven and Hell (1980)
Mob Rules (1981)
Born Again (1983)
Seventh Star (1986)
The Eternal Idol (1987)
Headless Cross (1989)
Tyr (1990)
Dehumanizer (1992)
Cross Purposes (1994)
Forbidden (1995)
13 (2013)

Black Sabbath Tour 1970
Paranoid Tour 1970–1971
Master of Reality Tour 1971–1972
Vol. 4 Tour 1972–1973
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Tour 1973–1974
Sabotage Tour 1974–1976
Technical Ecstacy Tour 1976–1977
Never Say Die! Tour 1978
Heaven & Hell Tour 1980–1981
Mob Rules Tour 1981–1982
Born Again Tour 1983
Seventh Star Tour 1986
Eternal Idol Tour 1987
Headless Cross Tour 1989
Tyr Tour 1990
Dehumanizer Tour 1992
Cross Purposes Tour 1994
Forbidden Tour 1995
Ozzfest Tour 1997
European Tour 1998
Reunion Tour 1999
Ozzfest Tour 1999
US Tour 1999
European Tour 1999
Ozzfest Tour 2001
Ozzfest Tour 2004
European Tour 2005
Ozzfest Tour 2005
Black Sabbath Reunion Tour, 2012–2014[218]
The End Tour 2016

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Country GB
Select - State/County/Region West Midlands
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Country United Kingdom
State/Province West Midlands
distance: 3,629 Miles
Address Aston, West Midlands, UK
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