Guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward first appeared at Ozzy Osbourne’s doorstep in 1968. The pair arrived in response to an old “Ozzy Zig Needs a Gig” advertisement that had lingered even after Ozzy had given up on becoming a singer. Ozzy’s mother, Lillian, answered the door as Tony recalls. Ozzy remembers that Tony initially tried to storm off as he vented to Bill: “… his name ain’t Ozzy Zig. And he ain’t no singer, either. He’s [John Michael] Ozzy Osbourne and he’s an idiot… He was the school clown! I’m not being in a band with that fucking moron.” Ozzy and Bill placated Tony, and the three aspiring musicians chatted.
A few days later, Ozzy and bassist Geezer Butler, whose real name is Terrence, turned up at the shop and home owned by Tony’s parents. That was when Tony and Bill finally agreed to join forces with Ozzy and Geezer. — Ozzy and Geezer Butler had already worked together in an outfit called Rare Breed. — The new band christened themselves The Polka Tulk Blues Band while staring at a tin of Ozzy’s mother’s “Polka Tulk” talcum powder. On August 30th, 1969, the “Core Four” officially became Black Sabbath. Since then, Black Sabbath has revolutionized music. They have inspired the very best that the industry has to offer.
There are so many colorful Black Sabbath anecdotes from the time Ozzy painted himself purple — he lived with the results on his nose for weeks — to the time the band threw a paint fight. Ozzy he opened the door to the homeowner of the mansion that Sabbath was renting while drenched in the hues of the rainbow. Who would rent their house to Black Sabbath? John du Pont, a renaissance man who was later convicted of murderer. Did you know, for example, that Ronnie James Dio, whose actual surname is Padavona, adopted his “Dio” epithet in honor of a famous gangster Johnny Dio? Ronnie’s impulsive fib that he was Johnny’s nephew caused him much paranoia over the years. Things changed one evening when Ronnie took Wendy out to celebrate “Heaven and Hell.” After a mysteriously lavish meal accompanied by vintage champagne, the maître d’ informed Ronnie: “That’s on your Uncle Johnny!”
The next time that you listen to “Changes” from Vol. 4 (1972), try to picture Black Sabbath in the state in which they recorded it — doped up and naked. To alter the way that you listen to everyone’s favorite band, enjoy these 20 surprising facts about Black Sabbath.
1. The baby on the cover of Born Again was decided upon by Don Arden.
Don had chosen the demonic baby design out of a batch presented by cover artist Steve Joule. Joule told Black Sabbath Online that he had submitted bad images hoping for a rejection from Don. Joule did not want to damage his professional relationship with Ozzy and Sharon. By this point, Sharon and Ozzy already had a searing rivalry with Don Arden, Sharon’s mafia-connected father. Don, whose motto was “Legs do break,” had gone berserk when Tony and Geezer decided to replace Ozzy. In truth, Ozzy had caused problems for the bad, such as when he quit Black Sabbath before Never Say Die! (1978). This forced the band to recruit vocalist Dave Walker. Ozzy returned two or three days before the band entered the disappointing Toronto studio space that they had booked. When Sabbath axed Ozzy, Don asked Sharon to continue managing Ozzy’s solo career under his label, whereas Sharon and Don had previously managed Black Sabbath together. Don sold Black Sabbath’s contracts to Blue Öyster Cult’s manager Sandy Pearlman. Eventually, Sharon and Ozzy split with Don. Don rekindled his relationship with Sabbath for a time — Don’s 1986 arrest would be his undoing — once Ronnie James Dio was out of the picture.
In regard to the Born Again cover, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were ambivalent, yet amused by this bad joke. Geezer weighed in: “It’s shit. But it’s fucking great!” Bill Ward, on the other hand, was quite angry. Sabbath’s vocalist Ian Gillan, Sabbath’s vocalist became livid: “I saw the cover then puked. Then I heard the record then puked.” Ian was also upset that Geezer had remixed the album, which had been recorded in a manor house belonging to Richard Branson during a prank-filled stay. Furthermore, Don’s decision to release Born Again (1983) as a Black Sabbath record went against the wishes of all band members who hoped to promote themselves as a supergroup. Similarly, Seventh Star (1986) was not supposed to be a Tony Iommi solo record. It didn’t matter what the band thought in relation to Born Again or anything else. Don believed that the horned baby with claws would create a buzz. He loved the Born Again cover so much that he immediately began concocting another surprise, which we will reveal later.
Despite the heavy fee paid by Don, Joule finished the job for the Born Again album packaging in a night while drunk and on speed. Was it a mere coincidence that Depeche Mode had used the same source photo of an infant on the original cover of “New Life”/”Shout!” 1981? Joule claims that he had not been aware of this. He had selected the photo from a 1968 magazine Mind Alive that his parents had bought for him as a child. Considering that Joule worked for Kerrang!, it is likely that he had seen the Depeche Mode cover.
Joule has said that a pre-release copy of Born Again had been delivered to Sharon while she was in the hospital and pregnant with Aimee, Sharon’s first child with Ozzy. Mick Wall makes the hilarious revelation in Black Sabbath: Symptom of a Universe (2015) that in an act of retaliation against Tony Iommi for referring to the Born Again baby as Aimee, she had a friend who was a Vogue cover girl plan a date with Iommi. When Tony arrived at the West Hollywood restaurant Le Dome, co-founded by Elton John, he was presented with a box of two turds — one from Sharon and one Ozzy.
2. The giant Stonehenge prop mistake…
By Ian Gillan’s account, the Stonehenge props for the 1983 tour of Born Again, which began in Europe and ended in North America, were meant to constitute a full-scale replica. The real Stonehenge is 18 feet high. Multiple sources implicate Geezer Butler as the mastermind behind the concept. Sabbath had denied the request to play at Stonehenge years earlier, so this might have inspired Geezer's choice of imagery. Supposedly, Geezer sent in the dimensions for the Stonehenge model in centimeters and the company sent back the 3D results in inches. Who submits such large measurements in centimeters anyway? Geezer denies involvement: “… I was the one who thought it was really corny. We had … Don Arden managing us. He came up with the idea of having the stage set be Stonehenge. He wrote the dimensions down and gave it to our tour manager. He wrote it down in meters, but he meant to write it down in feet.” Iommi has written that the columns were 13 feet high and says that they were supposed to be smaller. Others have offered the unlikely estimate, probably in jest, that Sabbath’s Stonehenge was 45-50 feet. Ian has explained that there were two Stonehenges — the gigantic version and a corrected life-sized version. In any case, the Stonehenge props could not be transported into many venues. Iommi says the band only used the entire Stonehenge once in Reading. Whether or not the band dumped their Stonehenge set into the ocean as fabled, the world may never know.
Eerily, Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap (1984) incorporates a joke wherein Spinal Tap mistakenly orders a Stonehenge prop in inches instead of feet. The widespread myth that Spinal Tap copied Black Sabbath seems to be refuted by an even earlier 20-minute demo that attracted the attention of producer Norman Lear. An argument over the prop — it arrives as 18 inches by 18 inches instead of 18 feet by 18 feet — begins just after the 14 minutes mark. This is followed by Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge” song, which features the puny prop again. Rob Reiner called the band “idiotic… numbskull rock n’ rollers” for accusing the team of copying their story. These are awfully nasty comments coming from someone whose screen nickname was “meathead.”
3. Bill Ward and Geezer Butler are actually vegans.
That’s right. Bill Ward and Geezer Butler are vegans. Although Geezer first gave up meat once he learned where it comes from, he would not hear the word “vegetarian” until he visited Hamburg with Black Sabbath. There were occasions when Geezer was forced to eat meat while on tour. The band was so poor that when Tony Iommi’s family wasn’t feeding them, they often shared rice with curry. Geezer currently enjoys fooling his guests with delicious vegan meals. Bill joined in on this lifestyle later. He owes this decision to his wife.
Ozzy remembers that Dr. Bill has always held idiosyncratic ideas pertaining to nutrition. The Prince of Darkness penned in his wonderful memoir I Am Ozzy (2011): “Every morning, for example, Bill would have a cup of coffee, a glass of orange juice, a glass of milk, and a beer. Always in the same order. I asked him why he did it once. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘the coffee’s to wake me up, the orange juice is to give me some vitamins to stop me getting sick, the milk’s to coat my stomach for the rest of the day, and the beer’s to put me back to sleep again.’”
Bill recently told Eddie Trunk that he has been sober since 1984. Kidney stones and hepatitis respectively plagued Geezer and Bill early on with Sabbath. Bill dropped out of Black Sabbath for the final time in 2012, mainly due to contractual objections. Others have questioned Bill’s health. It would have been great to see Bill participate in The End Tour (2016-2017). Nevertheless, Tommy Clufetos did an amazing job on drums. His never-ending solos allowed his bandmates a break. Both Bill and Geezer are working on autobiographies. Bill is writing his story with the novel intention to avoid causing harm. He has several books in the making.
As far as a vegan living is concerned, the Bill and Geezer duo clearly have not proselytized Ozzy. The closest that Ozzy has probably come to becoming a legume lover may have been his fondness for a certain vegetable dealer while he was still married to Thelma Riley. While living at his cottage in Ranton Green where he massacred countless animals, Ozzy was firing shots one day through his roof when Charles Clapp the dealer suggested that he shoot the church clock tower instead. That is not completely true — Ozzy’s aversion to veganism anyway. He tried to go vegan in 2012 and failed after less than a month.
3. Conflict with Ronnie about alleged tampering in the studio…
In 1982, Black Sabbath’s lineup consisted of drummer Dio, Geezer, Tony, and Vinny Appice — a very different musician stylistically from Bill and the younger brother of Vanilla Fudge’s Carmine Appice. Rumor has it that when Black Sabbath began mixing Live Evil (1982), Dio and Vinny snuck into the studio each day to turn up their parts. They purportedly turned down Geezer and Tony’s contributions as well. This made the music sound less heavy. Dio stated that when he and Vinny entered the studio at 2:00 p.m. as scheduled, Geezer and Tony simply were not there. The latter pair preferred to work at night.
After about 10 days of confusion, the sound engineer, Lee De Carlo — brother of the actress who portrayed Lily Munster — shifted the course of rock n’ roll history when he told Tony and Geezer: ”… you’re going away at night and then Ronnie comes in and alters everything.” That had been going on for roughly 10 days. In consequence, Tony tried to ban Ronnie from the studio. Meanwhile, Ronnie did not understand why his bandmates would listen to De Carlo who had been “… drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels a day.” Ronnie recollects that Geezer phoned him to pass on the indirect hint that he was no longer welcome in the band. Ronnie interpreted Black Sabbath’s choice to credit him on Live Evil as Ronnie Dio, as opposed to Ronnie James Dio, as a cheap insult. The following year, Vinny and Dio “returned to prove them wrong,” in the words of Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon,” with Holy Diver (1983). Retrospectively, the Sabbath team seems to agree that there had been no wrong on Ronnie’s behalf.
5. Geezer actually started flashing the Devil’s Horns before Ronnie.
Dio is celebrated as the musician who popularized the Devil’s Horns hand sign. Ronnie claims that he is the one who introduced the gesture to metal. Dio was searching for a way to connect with the audience as Ozzy did by waving the peace sign. According to Dio’s posthumous Rainbow in the Dark: The Autobiography (2021), the answer to his prayers one night while he was in his hotel room. Ronnie recalled that his grandmother Anna Padavona, who hailed from Sicily, had a “… strange hand gesture when strangers would come near or pass by too close. It was the raising of the index finger and little finger while folding the middle and ring finger into the palm where they were held in place by the thumb. I did not discover until years later that this was the Maloik, a.k.a. the Horns, a.k.a. the Devil Sign, a.k.a. the Mano Carnuto. Something my Gramma used for protection against the evil eye.” Ronnie had extolled Anna Padavona’s angelic temperament.
Geezer, however, states that he taught Ronnie to make the gesture upon the latter’s request. Geezer says that he has photos of himself making the Devil’s Horns that date back to 1971. Iommi’s comments are consistent with Geezer’s. Geezer, being well-read, borrowed the gesture from Aleister Crowley. Geezer is also aware that John Lennon had made the Devil’s Horns gesture with and extended thumb in a 1960s photo like Gene Simmons would later start doing in 1974. Lennon’s cartoon even holds out the Devil’s Horns with a folded thumb on the cover of Yellow Submarine (1968).
6. Rob Halford replaced Ozzy in a Black Sabbath show.
During Ozzfest, Ozzy came down with bronchitis in 2004. Rob Halford stepped in for Ozzy on August 26th in Camden, New Jersey. He had just two days’ notice. Judas Priest had been touring with Ozzfest. Rob already knew most of the Sabbath songs. Nevertheless, he studied Sabbath’s material on his bus. After his set with Judas Priest, Rob sang the Sabbath set. Rob’s performance has been described as “heroic.” Rob pulled off a successful concert, even though he had to crouch at times in order to see some of his lyrics. Another hurdle that Rob Halford overcame that day was the fact that the tour manager failed to inform ticket buyers of Ozzy’s absence in advance as Iommi had asked.
7. Despite his cancer battle, Iommi was the only member who never abandoned Black Sabbath.
Loyalty defines Tony Iommi. In 1968, he left his newly acquired position in Jethro Tull to rejoin his Black Sabbath bandmates. That’s pure lunacy! As a parting favor to Jethro, Tony participated in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1968). Iommi and Bill Ward had only landed in the unlikely company of Ozzy and Geezer in the first place, because their previous band had been scandalized. Iommi and Ward had joined Mythology, but everything fell apart after the band allowed a drug dealer to leave a suitcase full of dope at their place. The police arrived, and the media tarnished Mythology’s image. Prior to their involvement in Mythology, Iommi and Ward had been bandmates in a project called The Rest. Bill and Tony’s shared history traces back to 1966 or 1967 when they first became acquainted.
Fans know about the horrific incident that severed the tips of Iommi’s fingers. — That had occurred on what was scheduled to be Tony’s last day of work. He had left the factory midway through his allotted time, but his mother made him return. Tony fashions the thimbles he uses to play out of tips cut from prosthetic arms. He covers these with leather. At the time of his superb memoir Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath (2011), Tony was still extracting his leather from the same jacket that he had first used for this purpose in 1965. The highly complicated process is indicative of Tony’s iron will. Tony never gave up on the guitar, and he certainly never gave up on Black Sabbath. Because of this, Iommi assumed full ownership of the Black Sabbath name. In 2009, Ozzy sued Iommi for 50% interest. In 2010, both parties settled. Geezer and Ward, however, remain excluded from this deal. In the early days, Black Sabbath’s members took pride in their ritual of splitting profits equally all four ways.
8. Ronnie was nearly killed by a cloaked man.
While Ronnie was performing with Sabbath, a cloaked man jumped onstage and tried to murder him with a dagger. The same thing almost happened earlier to Ozzy who didn’t see the weapon and pushed the lunatic towards Tony. Of course, Satanists made life hell for Sabbath. The band insists that Anton LaVey once held a parade in their honor. The Church of Satan denies this. Perhaps this is because Sabbath has expressed their dislike of them. Black Sabbath began wearing crosses to fend off Satanists. Geezer Butler is probably the most religious of Black Sabbath’s members. He is an avid Catholic. Whereas Geezer was formerly intrigued by occultism and painted his room black with inverted crossed, more recently he has credited the Bible as the greatest inspiration for his music. “When I first went to school, we read The Iliad and The Odyssey, and I can’t remember anything of what they were about, but The Bible stuck with me.” Geezer aspired to be a priest as a child.
Black Sabbath’s members have nearly died and/or become murderers themselves on countless occasions. Let’s rattle off some instances. Sabbath came close to accidentally killing Bill Ward when they spray-painted and lacquered him. This blocked his pores. Bill Ward nearly lost his leg one day after Tony’s routine habit of setting him on fire famously went awry. On a later date, Bill suffered from a heart attack in the studio. Tony nearly earned a life sentence when he tried to throw a girl whom he thought had overdosed off a balcony to make her presumed death resemble a suicide. Geezer Butler once pulled a knife on Malcolm Young of AC/DC. Geezer has offered the cheeky explanation that he just so happened to be flicking a knife when a mean-spirited Malcolm entered. On the other side of the stick, Geezer once required 13 stitches when someone in the crowd threw a bottle at his head. The same thing happened to Ronnie at a Rainbow gig. A doctor stitched him up, and his finished his set. Similarly, Muhammad Ali's doctor stitched Tony up after a flying beer can busted his head. Throughout his life, Ronnie braved a lot of tragedy and danger. He was involved in several car accidents. On an early tour with The Electric Elves, a drunk driver caused the death of his friend Nick Pantas. That night, Ronnie and his other two bandmates also suffered horrific injuries. Doug Thaler’s condition was especially grave.
9. Iommi was plagued by lunatics, who hid in the attic of his home.
Tony rented a home in Bel Air after the tour for Born Again. He thought that he was losing his mind when he continued to see and hear people in his home. Frequent calls to the police offered no yield. Eventually, Tony discovered a trapdoor leading up to his attic. People had been living there and spying on his every move through the vents.
10. Black Sabbath took a cue from Ozzy and hired a dwarf.
Iommi wrote in his memoir that Don Arden summoned him and Ian Gillan into his dark office where they saw two red eyes. They turned on the lights. Voilà — Don had hired a dwarf, dressed in a rubber suit, who acted in Star Wars to perform in Sabbath’s stage shows. Ozzy had been suspending a cloaked dwarf named John Edward Allen, whom he nicknamed “Ronnie [James Dio],” from a noose at his stage shows. Whereas Ozzy’s crew locked John in the luggage case, Sabbath’s crew locked their actor in a flight case.
The band found Don’s plan distasteful. The Star Wars actor was meant to resemble the Born Again baby. He dressed in crimson, donned yellow fingernails, and even sported horns. He would crawl, scream, and cry atop the Stonehenge props before falling backwards onto an unseen region. This concert opening was enhanced by dry ice and roadies dressed as druids. The crew’s varied acts of egregious cruelty towards the dwarf could have proved fatal. Gillan remembers that one day the crew removed the mattresses that the dwarf was supposed to land on. The actor was hurt. However, this injury might have resulted because the crew purposely left the back lights off. That is the explanation given by keyboardist Geoff Nicholls. The band and the dwarf eventually parted ways.
11. Black Sabbath auditioned Michael Bolton.
Yes. After Black Sabbath parted ways with Dio in 1982, the band brought in Michael Bolton to sing songs like “War Pigs” and “Heaven and Hell.” Bolton denies this rumor, but we do not think that Tony Iommi is a liar. He has written about this event in his autobiography. Michael Bolton had opened for Ozzy Osbourne with a band he had been asked to front called Blackjack (1979-1980). You might be wondering: Did Michael Bolton have dark side?! Try listening to his debut album Michael Bolotin (1975) or Blackjack’s “Love Me Tonight,” and then say that you have not been the equivalent of Rickrolled.
12. Ronnie refused to open for Ozzy Osbourne with Black Sabbath.
When Black Sabbath told Ronnie that they would like to open in support of Ozzy’s first retirement in 1992, Ronnie refused to accompany them. Ronnie dismissively retorted: “I’m not supporting a clown.” Ronnie wrote in his memoir: “Ozzy was a great frontman, but a great singer? Not so much.” At the time, Black Sabbath did not suspect that Ozzy would go on to have more retirements than quarterback Brett Favre, so this was serious. Tony and Geezer contacted Bill Ward. The three Sabbath mates went forward with their plans to support Ozzy for two nights in Costa Mesa, California. — These were bonus dates added to the tour of No More Tears. — Fortunately, Rob Halford volunteered to sing, which means that he rescued Black Sabbath from “The Hand of Doom” at least twice (1992 and 2002).
In the meantime, Iommi was thrown in jail in America because his ex-wife Melinda Diaz had falsely alleged that he had not paid child support. Iommi was bailed out right before a show that would prove Black Sabbath’s final gig with Ronnie who has been quoted: “By them agreeing to play the shows in LA with Ozzy, that, to me, spelled out ‘reunion with Ozzy.’” And that obviously meant the end of our particular project.” Soon, the old trio plus Rob hit Costa Mesa to perform their gigs on November 14th and 15th. Ozzy even joined Sabbath for some songs after Rob.
13. Iommi saved Ozzy during physical fights.
Geezer Butler has stated: “Ozzy had been to school with Tony, and they hated each other. Tony had bullied him at school,” At that time, Ozzy befriended the biggest kid on the playground by making him laugh. This was his tactic to evade bullies since fighting has never been Ozzy’s forte. Ozzy’s school and home of Birmingham were rough places with frequent violence and local gang action. Ozzy reminisced in his book: “One kid who never beat me up was Tony Iommi.” Ozzy continued “… he was a big guy, and good-looking, and all the girls fancied him.” The real reason why Iommi was so buff was that he was afraid of a particular local gang. He carried a knife on him at school because there had been stabbings. Iommi was a year older than Ozzy. He had a further had a leg up on most kids, because his family owned a grocery store. His paternal grandparents ran an ice cream shop among culinary ventures. Iommi’s maternal grandfather, who died early in Iommi’s life, had been a vineyard owner from Italy.
As a member of Black Sabbath, Iommi had to use his fists to defend Ozzy on more than one occasion. Iommi was the best fighter in the band. Black Sabbath made themselves easy targets for preying hooligans. Iommi would have to protect the flamboyant Geezer Butler from skinheads as well. Geezer Butler wore dresses, hippie clothes, and platforms. At one point, he only had one pair of trousers and they were lime green bellbottoms. When one pantleg burned, his mother stitched on a black one. During one brawl, even Ozzy launched in against Geezer's foes with a hammer. On another evening, Tony and his friend Albert Chapman burst in while Ozzy was under attack. The assailants shot Albert through the cheek, yet he and Tony ended up in jail. One of the funniest moments in Tony Iommi’s autobiography is when Geezer tries to appease a raging lunatic: “Don’t hit me man, I’m peaceful!!” The downside of Iommi’s alpha status was that he was forced to restore order through unpleasant actions. For instance, Tony once socked a mink-clad Ozzy because he was pummeling Geezer.
14. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Starring Led Zeppelin? Almost!
The two Birmingham bands have always been great friends. Geezer first introduced Ozzy to vocalist Robert Plant in 1968. Much to Bill Ward’s chagrin, drummer John Bonham liked to use Ward’s prized drum kid, yet Tony Iommi attests that Bonham always broke something. Led Zeppelin visited Black Sabbath while they were recording Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973). John Bonham wanted to play a Black Sabbath song, but the group told him… “No”?! Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath proceeded to have a jam session anyway. As Iommi humorously called this brief collaboration “Black Zeppelin.” Iommi reflects: “I know it was recorded, and I’d love to hear it.” Bill Ward believes that this meeting was not taped.
15. Ian Gillan insisted on playing the bongos on stage.
This habit drove Gillan’s bandmates crazy. Bongos certainly did not fit with Black Sabbath’s look. The rigid and eccentric Gillian bemoaned that he didn’t know what to do with hands otherwise. He tried to justify his reliance on his beloved bongos by the fact that he had used them with Deep Purple. Some people dubbed Sabbath with Gillian “Deep Sabbath.” It had also been a struggle to tame Gillan’s flamboyant style of dress. — It was very difficult for Sabbath to find someone who actually fit their style. It is surprising how many musicians did not want to adapt to the band’s style and content. — Before long, the impish Gillan flew off to reunite with his Deep Purple bandmates. The self-proclaimed “worst singer Black Sabbath ever had” was another one of Don Arden’s brilliant ideas. Don put the cart before the horse and pushed Gillan into Sabbath before he was ready to join.
Ian attracted crowds, but another strike against him was that he failed to learn Sabbath’s lyrics. Gillian had an especially difficult time with “Iron Man.” One night, Ian spent an entire show bending to his knees at intervals to try to wave away clouds of dry ice that obscured the sheets on which his lyrics were written. Dry ice, which had been used on more than one tour, ice similarly backfired on Vinny Appice, who left Sabbath before Gillan joined, when a piece flew down his pants and into the crack of his rear. He had to finish the show sitting on a pillow. On Appice’s first show with Sabbath, thunder cracked, and rain immediately drenched his drum charts.
In all fairness to Sabbath’s members, the band’s frequent lineup changes and hefty demands often spelled disaster. At one show in Athens in 1987, Tony Martin forgot his lyrics. After he had resumed, the crowd mobbed the stage and began climbing and swinging from the lighting poles. “There were kids hanging like monkeys in the rigging…” Tony tried to kick people away, but the masses pulled at the band. Black Sabbath ran into their dressing room where they were locked away.
16. Black Sabbath and HIM were almost in-laws… sort of.
In 2010, HIM’s guitarist “Linde,” Mikko Viljami Lindström, became engaged to Tony Iommi’s American-born daughter and only child, Toni-Marie Iommi. They eventually separated. In the meantime, however, Linde and Tony worked together in the supergroup WhoCares (2011-2012), which also featured Jason Newsted, Ian Gillan, etc. Even Dio made an appearance on “Smoke on Water” on Ian Gillian & Tony Iommi: WhoCares (2012). WhoCares was a charity project to help rebuild a music school in Gyumri that had been destroyed by the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Iommi had also participated in another star-studded version of “Smoke on Water” with Rock Aid Armenia in 1989.
HIM has always been hugely inspired by Black Sabbath. “Paranoid” is one of vocalist Ville Valo’s favorite songs. HIM even recorded their second studio album Razorblade Romance (2000) in Rockfield Studios in Wales where Sabbath had recorded. — Ozzy appeared in the documentary Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm (2020). — Kelly Osbourne is a HIM fan. The band was set to tour with Ozzfest in 2003, yet plans were cancelled when Ozzy suffered from his horrific nearly fatal ATV accident. Finally, HIM was able to participate in Ozzfest with bands like Velvet Revolver in 2005. HIM has covered Sabbath’s “Hand of Doom.” Early on, HIM contemplated the name Black Earth — Sabbath’s name had been Earth for a time until the saw people filing into one gig in ballgowns and realized that the venue had booked the wrong Earth. — One of Linde’s many projects was called Flat Earth.
17. The band actually asked Ronnie James Dio not to sing about rainbows, dungeons, and/or dragons.
Ronnie responded to his bandmates’ plea for darkness: “I’ve always used rainbows!” Refraining from writing about his mythic “obsessions” was a near impossible task for Ronnie. The ex-Rainbow singer’s internal world was brimming with “kings and queens,” monsters and maidens, etc. Ronnie was very particular in his talents and ways. Although Geezer was also a brilliant lyricist, Ronnie preferred to compose his own lyrics. Ronnie liked to write while watching sports. We wonder if Ronnie ever tried to get into a Sabbath-state-of-mind with the New York Yankees’ or Giants’ announcer shouting the score in the background. Ronnie’s love of dragons was embodied by Dean the Dragon, the famous prop used on his tour for Sacred Heart. Dean symbolically gave way on the last Sacred Heart show in Japan. Dean’s head, Ronnie’s sword collection, and 665 of the star’s prized possessions were auctioned in 2018.
18. Wendy Dio and Sharon Osbourne were actually friends.
Dio acknowledged that he was introduced to Black Sabbath because of Sharon’s friendship with Wendy. Sharon wrote in Sharon Osbourne Extreme: My Autobiography (2005) that Tony asked her to hook him up with Dio whom she had mentioned years earlier. Sharon and Don had not yet sold Black Sabbath. According to Tony Iommi, Sharon introduced him to Ronnie James Dio with the advice that they start a side project. After their first meeting, Tony approached Dio at the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Hollywood. This was where Ritchie Blackmore first introduced Dio to his future wife, the English-born Wendy Galaxiola who was working as a waitress. Eventually, Ronnie asked Wendy to manage him. Ronnie wrote in Rainbow in the Dark: “I’d rather get screwed by my wife than screwed by my manager.” Wendy probably saved Ronnie’s career with Sabbath when she found him outside the Rainbow in a cop car after he had tried cocaine for the first time. Wendy began cursing. ”You got a job with Black Sabbath and you fucking ruined it!” The cops released Ronnie. They judged that going home to Wendy’s wrath would be the worst punishment. At first, Tony and Ronnie worked well together. The first song they jointly wrote was “Children of the Sea.”
Wendy’s relationship with Sharon also proved instrumental in connecting guitarist Jake E. Lee with Ozzy Osbourne. After Jake E. Lee, then Jake Lou Williams, left Rough Cutt, which Wendy also managed, he joined Dio for three sessions. Dio then broke the news to Jake that he did not feel that he was a fit for his band. It is mind blowing that Dio turned Jake down. Nevertheless, it is also clear that Jake had a completely different style and aura. Wendy told Sharon about Jake and drove him to audition for Ozzy Osbourne. Jake was soon chosen to fill Randy Rhoads’ position. Unfortunately, fans will recall that Jake E. Lee was denied songwriting credits for Bark At The Moon (1983). He wrote the album with help from Bob Daisley. The only song he did not write was “So Tired.” Jake has admitted that he signed away his rights because Sharon threatened to fire him. After The Ultimate Sin (1986), for which Jake received credit, Sharon fired him. It was at this point that Ozzy struck up his collaboration with 21-year-old Zakk Wylde who calls Sharon “mom.” Meanwhile, Jake continues to ask for writer’s credit, although he has given up the idea of monetary compensation. Fans can check out Jake’s band Red Dragon Cartel.
19. Geezer didn’t know what “Paranoid” meant.
Geezer Butler did not know the definition of “Paranoid” when he brainstormed the title of this Black Sabbath classic. He was relieved, however, once he found the definition. The band needed an extra song for their second album, hence Iommi composed “Paranoid” during a lunch break. Geezer came up with the lyrics, and Ozzy created the melody. Allegedly, the whole process transpired within 25 minutes. Geezer reasons that the rush is why the lyrics sound so cryptic. “They’re not; they just had no time to be put together properly.” Therein lies the recipe for genius.
The Paranoid (1970) album was recorded in six days, whereas Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut Black Sabbath (1970) had been recorded in a day. — Fans might not realize that the band had nothing to do with the famous Black Sabbath cover with model Louisa Livingstone. — Most fans know that the band intended for the album to be named after “War Pigs,” the famous opening track that was originally called “Walpurgis.” Fans can see that the Paranoid album cover was designed with “War Pigs” in mind, but the powers that be decided that the latter name would have been too controversial.
The unbelievable success of “Paranoid” has literally turned it into a song fit for the Queen. In 2002, Ozzy, Tony, and Phil Collins performed the hit at the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. We would like to mention another memorable performance of “Paranoid”: In 1985, Black Sabbath’s original lineup reunited for a day for a Live Aid concert. During the private rehearsal for the gig, Black Sabbath booted a girl who turned out to be Madonna. This tale probably would not have gone over well at home. Although Kelly Osbourne was an infant at the time, she publicly declared herself a Madonna fan on The Jones Rivers Show in 1992. Joan and Kelly would later work together on Fashion Police.
20. Black Sabbath only earned critical acclaim once grunge became popular.
David Konow’s Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal (2002) states: “Black Sabbath would gain critical acclaim only after Kurt Cobain and many of the Seattle bands acknowledged their influence in the ‘90s…. In the 1983 edition of The Rolling Stone Record Guide, each Black Sabbath album received one-star reviews. In the 1992 revised edition, several of their albums received three stars.” Critics had indeed eviscerated the band in its youth. They had dismissed Black Sabbath as “necromancy bullshit.” Tony Iommi agrees that grunge helped Sabbath become “the flavor of the month.” Sabbath has become the flavor that has endured.