This is the song that became the name of the band. They were playing clubs in Germany and using the name "Earth" when they realized another band had the same name. "Black Sabbath" was lifted from the title of a 1963 horror movie starring Boris Karloff that was directed by the Italian filmmaker Mario Bava.
The group's lead singer Ozzy Osbourne and bass player Geezer Butler had seen the film, and decided to write a song with that title. When it became clear that the band needed a new moniker, they named themselves after this song.
The name change coincided with a new sound and image for the group. They had been playing blues (mostly covers), but started writing more original material and found a darker, heavier sound that defined them throughout their Hall of Fame career. Eschewing anything resembling R&B or psychedelia, they found a fan base hungry for something fiendish and new. Critics derided the band, but they quickly became one of the most popular and enduring acts of their time.
From Black Sabbath: The Ozzy Osbourne Years
: "While rehearsing new material, the band formerly known as Earth experienced a supernatural experience. Geezer and Tony were playing new riffs for Ozzy and Bill when, much to everyone's surprise, they both strummed the same notes at the same tempo - although neither had ever before heard the other one play the piece! Convinced that this was an omen, Geezer christened the song and the group Black Sabbath (after the movie)."
Brett - Edmonton, Canada
This was the first song on the first Black Sabbath album. The album cost $1200 to make and took about eight hours to record.
Thanks to the "Black Sabbath" moniker, many fans associated the band with Satanism, an image they played up throughout their career
. This song, however, expresses a healthy fear of the devil.
Tony Iommi on "Black Sabbath": "We knew we had something; you could feel it, the hairs stood up on your arms, it just felt so different. We didn't know what it was, but we liked it." "Everybody started putting bits to it and afterwards we thought it was amazing. Really strange, but good. We were all shocked, but we knew that we had something there."
During a July 2001 interview with Geezer Butler, Guitar World magazine explained that "having borrowed a 16th century tome of black magic from Osbourne one afternoon, Butler awoke that night to find a black shape staring balefully at him from the foot of his bed. After a few frightening moments, the figure slowly vanished into thin air." Geezer continued to describe how he "told Ozzy about it. It stuck in his mind, and when we started playing 'Black Sabbath', he just came out with those lyrics. It had to come out, and it eventually did in that song - and then there was only one possible name for the band, really!"
This has been covered by Vader, Widespread Panic, Dance or Die, Flower Travellin' Band, Amber Assylum, Jello Biafra
(with Ice T), Acheron, Mistress, and Cryptal Darkness.
Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for above 2
Type O Negative covered this, but changed the lyrics so that the song is from Satan's point of view. The song was called "Black Sabbath (from The Satanic Perspective)." It was on the albums Nativity in Black: Tribute To Black Sabbath and Type O Negative's The Least Worst of Type O Negative.
Geezer Butler told Jam! Music that this was his favorite cover of a Sabbath song. Said the bassist: "That was outstanding. They definitely got the spirit of that song."
In 2002, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Phil Collins, and Pino Palladino of The Who played Paranoid
at Buckingham Palace in celebration of the Queen's fiftieth year on the throne. The young princes Harry and William asked Iommi why the group hadn't played "Black Sabbath."
Former Black Sabbath manager Patrick Meehan bought a race horse and named it Black Sabbath.
Guitarist Tony Iommi was briefly hired as Jethro Tull's guitarist in 1968, but shortly returned to Earth because in Tull he was treated more like an employee than a bandmate. However, Iommi did learn from Jethro Tull's regimented practice sessions and upon his return to Earth, "Black Sabbath" was one of the first songs to result from their new early-morning (well, okay, 9am) practice sessions.
Godsmack lead singer Sully Erna describes this as "The darkest song ever." Godsmack got a big break when they were invited on the 1999 Ozzfest tour.
In November of 1969, Black Sabbath appeared on John Peel's Top Gear
radio show. The band played "Black Sabbath," "N.I.B.
," "Behind the Wall of Sleep," and "Sleeping Village
Geezer Butler recalled to Uncut magazine: "The first time we played 'Black Sabbath' was in this tiny pub in Lichfield near Birmingham. The whole pub went mental."
The band Coven had a different song called "Black Sabbath" on their 1969 debut album. That band really was into the occult; the album closes with a black mass. Furthermore, Coven's guitarist was named Oz Osbourne (Ozzy's real first name is John).
Coven left their record label, Mercury, that year, and in 1970 a Mercury subsidiary signed Black Sabbath. Coven lead singer Jinx Dawson claimed that the label was looking for a male band to replace them, copying many of their occult themes, but without the verisimilitude.