Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath Artistfacts

  • 1967-2017
    Ozzy OsbourneVocals1967-1978, 1997-
    Tony IommiGuitar
    Terry "Geezer" ButlerBass
    Bill WardDrums1969-2012
    Ronnie James DioVocals1979-1982
    Ian GillanVocals1983-1984
  • In 2005, Black Sabbath was finally inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. They had been overlooked seven times, prompting Ozzy to ask that the band be taken off the list, feeling it was a sham because fans don't vote for the inductees. The band's friend and neighbor, Brian May, inducted them.

    In 2006, the band was also inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tony Iommi was almost unable to take his award home with him because airport security told him the large sculpture could be used as a weapon.
  • The band used to rehearse across from a movie theater. They got the idea to make scary music after seeing how much people enjoyed horror movies.
  • There is a 1964 Boris Karloff movie called Black Sabbath, but according to Tony Iommi, none of the band had seen it at the time.
  • Iommi joined Jethro Tull for two weeks in 1968. He appeared with Tull on The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus special, miming "A Song for Jeffrey." Iommi didn't like Jethro Tull's organization, in which he was treated more like an employee than a bandmate. However, he did learn by observing Tull's disciplined rehearsal routines, and brought that professional work ethic back to the band with Ozzy, Geezer, and Bill. Shortly after becoming more structured, the band started writing the songs that would later be recorded for Black Sabbath.

    After working with Jethro Tull, Iommi bought a flute and occasionally played it live. For the most part, it didn't work out.
  • According to music historian William Ruhlmann, they originally called their jazz-blues band Polka Tulk, later renaming themselves Earth, and they played extensively in Europe. In early 1969, they decided to change their name again when they found that they were being mistaken for another group called Earth. Butler had written a song called "Black Sabbath" that took its title from a novel by occult writer Dennis Wheatley called The Devil Rides Out, in which a Satanic ritual called a Black Sabbath is described. The group adopted it as their new name and often played up the demonic angle, even though it was mostly an act. Ozzy once said: "The only black magic Sabbath ever got into was a box of chocolates."
  • Butler wrote most of the song lyrics by borrowing phrases from Ozzy's stream-of-consciousness vocal melodies and fleshing them out. Ozzy did very little writing until he left the band.
  • They were one of the first bands to be considered "heavy metal." The phrase was introduced musically by the 1968 Steppenwolf song "Born To Be Wild," but in literature it showed up in the 1961 William Burroughs novel The Soft Machine.
  • Ozzy Osbourne's solo work did much better than the Black Sabbath material after he left.
  • Iommi used to date Lita Ford. Ozzy did a duet with her in 1989 - "Close My Eyes Forever."
  • Osbourne and Dio hated each other. One of Ozzy's tours featured a dwarf who Ozzy would call "Ronnie," referring to the vertically challenged Ronnie James Dio. Dio in turn refused to appear at any date in which Black Sabbath was slated to open for Ozzy's act, calling Ozzy a clown.
  • Their music is rather aggressive, but their worldview is not. Ozzy explained: "Sabbath were a hippie band. We were into peace."
  • Prior to the group truly coming together, Iommi worked in an industrial factory. He eventually decided to quit and become a full-time working guitarist. During the last few hours of his last day on the job, his hand became caught in a piece of equipment, severing the tips of his fingers on his right (fretting) hand.

    Losing the tips of the fingers on your hand is a debilitating accident for a guitarist, but Iommi found a unique way to soldier on. After battling depression over the accident for quite some time, he was visited by his supervisor from the factory, who brought along some Django Reinhardt records. Reinhardt was a jazz guitarist from the mid-20th century who had a disability - several of his fingers had been fused together in a fire. When Iommi heard Reinhardt play (and after receiving a pep talk from his supervisor) he decided that he could overcome his misfortune. He tried various ways to cover and/or extend his fingertips, to dull the pain he now had when trying to play and to make the tips themselves move more easily over the strings. What he finally came up with was taking a plastic detergent bottle, melting it, shaping it into thimble-like prosthetics, sanding them down, and covering them with leather from several jackets until he found one with the right feel. After taking care to form the new tips to snugly fit his fingers, and experimenting with various bonding agents to secure them, Iommi found that he could play again with minimal pain. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jim - Watertown, MA
  • All original members were from Aston, which is a suburb of Birmingham. They all lived in a one-mile radius from each other. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    John - Oslo, Norway
  • Dio helped popularize the "Rock Hand Symbol" of the two middle fingers and thumb in to the palm of the hand and the pinky and index finger out as a symbol to "Rock On." He got it from his grandmother because she used it towards what she believed to be evil people. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bryan Risk - Hamilton, Canada
  • In their early embryonic days as the Polka Tulk Blues Band, the group also featured a slide guitarist and saxophone player. The rest of the band eventually reformed stealthily without them.
  • Despite going to the same (violent) school in Birmingham, Ozzy and Iommi never spoke to each other much until several years afterward, when they connected through an ad Ozzy had circulated about needing a band.
  • Early rejected band names included: "Fred Carno's Army" (suggested by manager Jim Simpson) and "Jimmy Underpass and the Six-Way Combo" (Ozzy's suggestion).
  • Upon writing their first original songs, the band immediately knew they had something good. It was dark and menacing and made extensive use of the tritone, a musical interval of notes that sound particularly tense, almost evil. The band soon grew tired of playing cover tunes, especially because their original material didn't mesh well with the blues that they'd been playing up until that point.
  • At one point Tony Iommi played an upside down Gibson SG. Someone saw him doing it and said "I have a [right-handed] friend who plays a left-handed one upside down"! That guy and Tony swapped guitars, and both were happy.
  • In April 1989, while the band was touring in support of Headless Cross, a gig in Mexico was shut down and crew members were arrested on arrival. The Catholic Church in Mexico had protested the Sabbath show, and the mayor banned the event last-minute.
  • Vocalist Ronnie James Dio died of metastasized stomach cancer in 2010.
  • On 11-11-11 the band's original lineup announced that they were reuniting for a new album and tour in 2012, having already written several new songs. The album, titled 13, emerged in 2013.
  • Black Sabbath's debut album in 1970 began with the sound effects of a church bell and thunder. Forty-three years later, in 2013, their final album ended with the same sound of a church bell and thunder.
  • Unlike Ozzy, Dio played an instrument - bass - which allowed him to be more involved in the overall songwriting process. "With Ozzy, we'd play and come up with a format for a song, and then he'd listen to it and start coming up with a melody," Tony Iommi told Songfacts. "With Dio, he was a little bit more involved because he played an instrument and was more musical. And that's not knocking Ozzy, because Ozzy was great at what he did, but Dio was a little more involved."
  • Geezer Butler got arrested in 2015 for punching a Nazi in a bar. He hit the Nazi in the face after he spewed some antisemitic remarks to Butler.

Comments: 39

  • Dan Gillespy from Courtenay CanadaThe ultimate legends of heavy metal.
  • Rob Clough from Plymouth Michigan UsaThe album cover Stephen/Liverpool inquired about, the Greatest Hits disc 1977/1978 is the painting entitled 'The Triumph of Death' by Pieter Bruegel the elder c.1562
  • Sky from Newark, CaBoris Karloff did star in a movie titled Black Sabbath for it's English release. This is an indisputable fact. I own the DVD. It is a 1963 Italian movie directed by the famous horror movie director Mario Bava. For it's Italian release the movie is titled I Tre Volti Della Paura. In English, the title means The Three Faces of Fear. The movie contains a trilogy. It's basically three movies in one. It is narrated by Boris Karloff and he stars in the episode titled the Wurdeuak. I never read anything which stated that Black Sabbath named the band after the movie. I did read excerpts from an interview, where they talked about having a practice room, which overlooked a movie theater. The band was struggling to find an identity and a sound which stood out and made them unique from all of the other quality rock bands at the time. Upon seeing big crowds lined up for a horror movie across the street, one band member, possibly Geezer Butler commented that people will pay good money to be scared. It was never stated in the interview that the film playing across the street was Black Sabbath or that Butler's scary music idea instantly changed the band's name and it's sound. Geezer Butler began reading a books about the occult, which was a very popular subject in England at the time and he began dabbling in black magic. Shortly afterward, he had a terrible vision of a figure in black standing at the foot of his bed and pointing a warning finger at him. Butler told Ozzy of his vision. Ozzy was very amused and he told Butler it was a great idea for a song. I'm not sure how much writing input Ozzy had on that particular song. Ozzy wrote a few Sabbath songs, but he was mostly a singer, front man and an idea man in Sabbath and much less of a song writer. The song was named Black Sabbath and that is most likely the origin of the band's name.
  • Jorge from Bronx, NySo sorry,it came out 2 times this often freezes on me,my bad!
  • Jorge from Bronx, NyThe only 2 albums [LP'S] i had and treasured of Black Sabbath is Paranoid and Master of Reality.When i was growing up,I was some sort an anti military guy,and when discover War Pigs,it became to be my favorite,That i had the lyrics written in my school books and bookbag,lol,,Into the void,After Forever,Solittude and children of the grave were the one's i'd played the most.Most of Black Sabbath stuff was distorted in sound,but then made my list much bigger.When Ronnie James Dio came along as frontman,i was very pleased,Voodo and the Mob Rules were my fav's.
  • Stephen from Liverpool, United Kingdomwho did the original painting/artwork for sabbath's circa 1977/78 greatist hits album... the one with the skeletons etc... what is the picture called and where does it come from?
  • Vince from Long Island, NyActually losers,Black Sabbath got there name from Geezer's experience.He woke up to see a black mass at the edge of his bed pointing to him.Also partly from the 1964 movie Black Sabbath.
  • Lester from New York City, NyThey didn't list Tony Martin or Glenn Hughes as former lead singers of Black Sabbath. "Headless Cross' with Tony Martin as lead singer is a VERY good Black Sabbath album.
  • Ben from Baltimore, MdBryan Risk, thank you, you actually are correct. I mistyped when I put in the fact about Iommi's rock hand symbol. The true story is what I typed, except it was Ronnie James Dio. His grandmother is the one who he saw doing it. I believe it was called Maloi or something along those lines.
  • Ben from Baltimore, MdOne problem with your thing about the horns pz. The Longhors symbol is the same hand symbol, but the hand is facing out. The rock hand sybmbol is with the hand facing in. Its a little mistake people make when they compare the two. Oh, and by the way, the first link doesn't work.
  • Wayne from Saskatoon, Saudi ArabiaBlack Sabbath with the original members is the only Black Sabbath I love. I'm 50 years old now and bought all the earlier albums when they came out.I don't care how they got their name all I know is I still play their albums on a regular
    basis and I still crank them up.Just enjoy their
    songs because they won't be here forever,just their music...W.(animal)A.

  • Josh from Plainview, NySo much for Black Sabbath NOT being of the list of possible Rock and Roll hall of fame inductees, they're being inducted in 2006. They do deserve given that they practically created metal.
  • Mike from San Pedro, Cai was never too much into sabbath. I liked war pig and some other songs. Then my freind let me borrow "never say die" dvd. F'in amazing! Everyone in that group is amazing there way better than i thought. My favorite was the preformance on the dvd was "black sabbath" absolutly amazing gutair solo and a kick ass bass line
  • Mike from Carmel, MeThe story about Oz being bullied by Iommi when they were teens IS true. Check out some of their commentary during the "Reunion" DVD.
  • Guisseppe from Bradford Uk, EnglandBoris Carloff was a director. I have seen all three parts of black sabbath, and although, yes, he does narrate them, he does not appear in them. Also, why are an alarming number of people on this site illiterate (you know who you are!)?? I often ponder the consequences of this?? do you actually speak so incoherently?? Or are you all stoned? with love Rev Sexton.
  • Danny from Sydney, AustraliaDio is one of the greatest heavy metal singers to ever live, but the atmosphere that Ozzy brings is enough to make Dio perish in a Blizzard of Oz
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Sci always heard that the group got their name from the movie Black Sabbath, with carloff in it, and not the book. bTW, great band!
  • Dave from Greer, LaTed Nugent is a good guitarist and is a rock icon, but the guy who said Iommi is not a great guitar player above is a fool. Iommi is God. Of the four members of Sabbath, he is the one who truly created metal and kept the torch burning when others gave up. IOMMI!
  • John from Oslo, NorwayGeezer wrote 95% of the lyrics.
  • Thomas from Hartford, DcBlack Sabbath are the first metal band in my opionion, although Ive heard that Iggy and the stooges were the first to be referred to as "heavy metal" in Cream magazine in the late 60's. I havent confirmed this one way or the other. The devil horns thing was not in any way invented by dio although he may have been the first to show it on stage. Now its common place and has become synonymous with metal.
  • Wolmar from Warsaw, PolandWhat is great about sabbath is their variety of songs. Apart from a volcano guitar solos their are pearls like Laguna Sunrise, FX or Planet Caravan. This gives them the same position as Led Zeppelin. Instant development and a search of new sounds makes Black Sabbath exceptional.
  • Rick from St.louis, MoBoris Karloff did in fact star in a movie called "Black Sabbath". It's a trilogy of horror stories and he's the host/narrator. He's in the last story "Wuderdalak". It is the only time that Karloff portrayed a vampire. The movie was released in 1963 under the title "Tre Volti Della Paura,I".
  • Susan from Richmond, VaOK---do I have to beat you guys silly??? The "devil horns" thingee is sooooo not original. Although I am a fan, I am also of Italian heritage, and can tell you that the horns are an old Italian curse, called "cornuto", or the evil eye. Holding the horns up is a curse, while holding the same hand in the same position, with the fingers pointing downward instead of up is actually a way to ward off evil. EVERY ITALIAN KNOWS THIS..they even have the Italian horns (actually, a pepper) and the downward pointing hand as a charm for wearing. I'll guess that you have seen these if you know any Italian from Jersey....
  • John from Oslo, NorwayActually, it was Geezer who wrote most of the Black Sabbath lyrics... But its right that ozzy wrote very little.
  • Ian from Boise, Iddio did NOT come up with the devil horns. the first to use them in a metal context, yes. he, however, attributes the horns to his grandmother--saying that she had told him once that holding them up to another person was a sign to ward off evil and waving it at another person was akin to casting a spell.
  • Brady from Fort Stockton, Txjosh, the gesture you're referring to is called the metal horns, and yes dio did come up with it. since i'm bored, i'll diagram it out-\nn//
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Ctyeah ac dc was also thinking about michael bolton replacing bon scott, boy for a ballad singing prepi he sure was loved by heavy metal!
  • Jim from Grand Rapids, MsThe movie "Black Sabbath" came out in the 1930's....I've seen is very good. Boris Karloff was in it. The guy who wrote that he doubts the movie exists is mistaken. It was a scary flick. Geezer Butler suggested "Black Sabbath" become Earth's new name after seeing the movie. And so that's how Black Sabbath was named. And the movie was very good.
  • Josh from Hauula, HiRonnie James Dio is known to have been the first to use the devil's horns hand gesture (fist with index and pinkie fingers extended)
  • Don from Pittsburgh, PaI saw them in 1973 in New Haven, Connecticut. I think that was the "Master of Reality" tour, I can't remember,anyway, Ted Nugent opened up and completely blew Tony Iommi offstage, never thought very much of Iommi's guitar playing, however "Black Sabbath" overall was good, but, "Sweatty Teddy" annialated "Sabbath" on that night. I think I wrote run-on sentences, OH well.who cares.
  • Jim from Grand Rapids, MiThe movie, Black Sabbath, came out in the 1930s, not 1960s. I saw the movie, so it is definitely real. And Geezer Butler has said many times that he suggested the name "Black Sabbath" to the other members of the band after watching the Boris Karloff flick. That's how the name was derived. It didn't come from a novel by Dennis Wheatley or any other such nonsense.
  • Josh from Grand Ledge, MiBoris Karloff did play in a movie called Black Sabbath, in 1964. It was released in Italy under the name The Three Faces of Fear. They changed the name to Black Sabbath when they released it in the U.S. to play off of the success generated by Black Sunday. I don't know if this is how Black Sabbath got the name of their group, but it was a movie at the time that they were a band.
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandCould you imagine Michael Bolton in Black Sabbath! It honestly does not bear thinking about!
  • Dave from San Antonio, TxYes, They got there name from the movie Black Sabbath, and Boris Karloff was in it. If you watch the Ozzy biography video called Don't Blame me, it quotes him saying something of like "Geezer though of the name Black Sabbath. We went to see a movie called Black Sabbath and Geezer said isn't it funny how people pay money to get the s**t scared out of them, and the name just stuck." It also shows the movie poster advertisement for the movie with Boris Karloffs name on it.
  • Rick from Melbourne, Australiaheres a link to a poster of the MOVIE Black Sabbath
  • David from Orangeburg, ScBlack Sabbath is awesome! I've heard both stories of the origins of their name, and I personally believe the one about the movie title "Black Sabbath" more than the one about the book. This band completely kicks ass, they invented heavy metal. They are also widely mistaken as being satanists and playing satanic music. Everyone criticizes them for it, but if you look at their lyrics, they actually talk about avoiding satan, and a lot of their songs are quite peaceful with messages of peace. Most of the members were staunch Catholics. They get misunderstood because their music mentions the devil/satan (not actually saying to worship him of kill people or do anything of the sort, but quite the opposite) and because their music and image is so scary, which is because they liked to scare people, just like horror movies. They are like the musical equivalent of a horror movie, but that doesn't make them satanic.
  • Jeff from Haltom City, TxFor information on the 1963 movie "Black Sabbath", including it's original title, please go here: . It turns out that you are both right: there was a movie by that title, but it is very unlikely (In fact, almost impossible) that the band took their name from the movie. And Karloff was in the movie.
  • Josh from Springfield, MaI think there was a Karloff movie called Black Sabbath, but it had a different title outside the U.S.
  • John from South Bend, InBoris Karloff never played in a movie entitled Black Sabbath. In fact I cannot find evidence thata movie by that title was ever made. Boris Karloff was in several movies with Black in the title, The Black Castle (1952), Black Friday (1940), The Black Room (1935), and The Black Cat (1934). So where did Black Sabbath get their name? Accordian to music historian William Ruhlmann, "They originally called their jazz-blues band Polka Tulk, later renaming themselves Earth, and they played extensively in Europe. In early 1969, they decided to change their name again when they found that they were being mistaken for another group called Earth. Butler had written a song that took its title from a novel by occult writer Dennis Wheatley, Black Sabbath, and the group adopted it as their name as well."

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