Formed in 1968 in Birmingham by guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, and bassist Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath is part of a small but exceptional group of music acts that have revolutionized the music industry.
The innovativeness and desire of the band members to constantly push the boundaries made Black Sabbath the legendary band that is today.
The band came to prominence in 1970 with the release of their first two studio albums ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘Paranoid’ which weren’t well-received by the critics. However, the audience loved them and they were a commercial success.
Black Sabbath was disbanded in 2017 after nineteen studio albums, multiple line-up changes, and five decades of rocking.
To honor their legacy, in this article we’ll go through 10 interesting facts about Black Sabbath. Enjoy!
10 Interesting Facts About Black Sabbath
1. Black Sabbath wasn’t the original band name
Similar to pretty much every band in existence, Black Sabbath was also formed under a different name which was later changed.
In 1967-68, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward were part of a band named Mythology that broke up, so the two decided to form a new band. Shortly afterward they formed a new band with Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler called – The Polka Tulk Blues Band.
However, that name didn’t last for long and they changed it to Earth. The new name stood for a while and the band began recording songs and playing at shows billed as Earth. But to their disappointment, there already was a group of the same name in England that they didn’t know of. That’s when they decided to change the name of the band to avoid confusion.
The name Black Sabbath was inspired by the eponymous horror film starring Boris Karloff that played in the cinema nearby the band’s rehearsal studio.
2. Heavy Metal Pioneers
For the older fans of heavy metal and hard rock music, this Black Sabbath fact is general knowledge. But younger and newer fans of the genres probably aren’t that familiar with their origin.
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Black Sabbath, alongside Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin revolutionized the music industry by introducing a heavier sound, unheard before then. These bands are also known as the “Unholy Trinity”.
However, while Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin did indeed play hard, no one was as hard as Black Sabbath. That’s why out of the three pioneering bands, they are the most synonymous with heavy metal.
Black Sabbath‘s music has influenced the likes of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Soundgarden, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Megadeth, Pantera, Anthrax, Nirvana, Slayer, and hundreds of other music acts.
3. “Paranoid” wasn’t in the band’s plans at first
The name of Black Sabbath‘s second studio album and the now-iconic title track ‘Paranoid’ wasn’t in the works at first.
Namely, the band finished recording their second studio album and planned to release it with ‘War Pigs’ as the leading single. However, their label forced them to make some changes at the last moment.
Why? Because ‘War Pigs’ is an anti-war protest song and the records label thought that it would harm the sales amid the Vietnam war. They also didn’t have enough songs for the album.
As a result, the band members got together and wrote and recorded ‘Paranoid’ as an afterthought in less than two hours. It was so good that even the album was named after it. This just speaks volumes of their immense talent and innovativeness.
The album became the first No.1 hit for Black Sabbath in the UK. The single peaked at No.4 in the UK, but it topped the charts in Denmark and Germany.
4. “Iron Man” was inspired by an Ozzy Osbourne comment
Another signature song of Black Sabbath‘s second studio album ‘Paranoid’ has an interesting origin story worth sharing.
Apparently, the idea for ‘Iron Man’ was born during a practice session in 1970 when Tony Iommi was rehearsing a riff he came up with. And while Iommi played the riff, impressed Ozzy Osbourne commented that it sounded ‘like a big iron bloke walking about’.
The comment immediately prompted Geezer Butler to write the lyrics of the song which tell the story of a man turned to steel in a magnetic field who travels through time to save mankind.
‘Iron Man’ became Black Sabbath‘s best-charting single on the US Billboard Ho 100 chart where it peaked at No.52.
5. Brian May played lead guitar on a Black Sabbath record
Queen‘s guitarist and founding member Brian May was one of the many guest musicians who featured on a Black Sabbath album.
Brian May played lead guitar on the song ‘When Death Calls’ which featured on the band’s fourteenth studio album ‘Headless Cross’.
6. Bandmembers wear aluminum crosses to protect themselves from a curse
Yes, you read that right. This is one of the craziest Black Sabbath facts that you will ever read. It involves Satanists who put a curse on the band.
The incident happened in the early days of the band when they were perceived as occultists in the public which brought an unwanted crowd into their fanbase.
Apparently, Black Sabbath was invited by an organization that practiced black magic and wanted them to play at a stone circle. As expected, the band refused the offer because they didn’t want to be associated with them. The rejection angered the organization and they cast a curse on the band.
To ward off the spell and evil spirits, Ozzy‘s father who worked at a metal factory at the time, made aluminum crosses for the lads.
7. Only Tony Iommi has never left Black Sabbath
Out of the four founding members of Black Sabbath, only Tony Iommi has stayed with the band from the beginning until the end and played on every album.
However, Iommi did briefly leave the band in 1968 while it was still called Earth, so technically he never left Black Sabbath.
In 1968, dissatisfied with the direction the band was heading, Tony left Earth and joined Jethro Tull. But his stint with the English rock band was short-lived and he returned to his former bandmates.
8. Ozzy’s wife Sharon recommended Ronnie James Dio
The legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio was the one who replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the frontman of Black Sabbath in 1979.
But what’s interesting, is that Ozzy‘s wife Sharon was the one who introduced Dio to the band at a party and praised his great voice, hinting that he would be a great fit for them.
After Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne parted ways, Tony Iommi contacted Ronnie and the rest is history.
Dio and Black Sabbath produced three great studio albums ‘Heaven and Hell’, ‘Mob Rules’, and ‘Dehumanizer’. And in 2006, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio, and Vinny Appice formed the heavy metal supergroup Heaven & Hell.
9. Black Sabbath has sold over 75 million records worldwide
One of the most impressive facts about Black Sabbath is that they have sold over 75,000,000 records worldwide. This makes them one of the biggest-selling bands in music history.
The band has released nineteen studio albums through the decades, and seven of them have exceeded the one million sales mark.
Best-selling Black Sabbath albums
- Paranoid (1970) – 12,000,000+
- Master of Reality (1971) – 2,200,000+
- We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘N’ Roll (1975) – 2,100,000+
- Vol 4 (1972) – 1,200,000+
- Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) – 1,200,000+
- Black Sabbath (1970) – 1,200,000+
- Heaven and Hell (1980) – 1,100,000+
10. Members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame is somewhat of a controversial topic in the metal community and for a good reason. For instance – the HoF’s refusal to acknowledge heavier-sounding bands and artists who dare to be different than the mainstream.
Black Sabbath became eligible for induction in 1995 which marked 25 years since the release of their first album. However, they were inducted eleven years later in 2006, subsequently becoming the first proper first metal band to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Well, that was it for the Black Sabbath facts. Hopefully, you found this post interesting and we didn’t miss anything crucial. Keep rocking \m/
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