The Prince of Darkness and Black Sabbath
On December 3rd, 1948, John Michael Osbourne was born in Birmingham, England. This child would suffer many hardships throughout his life, but somehow would force himself to overcome them. This man that came to be known as Ozzy fronted the most famous classic metal bad of all time, Black Sabbath.
After trying work, Ozzy moved to petty theft, and then ended up in jail. Ozzy decided to try music as a career. He began to look for bands to join and soon found one named Music Machine. Due to illness, Music Machine was in need of a singer. Ozzy filled in and was fascinated by the traveling and wild sides of the music lifestyle. Later, he joined a band called Approach, but he disliked the band and quit shortly after.
Ozzy eventually formed a band with Tony Iommi as guitarist, William “Bill” Ward as drummer, and Terence “Geezer Butler” as bassist. The four musicians first called themselves Polka Tulk Blues, and then changed its name to Earth. The Band played a gig at a place called Henry’s Blueshouse(Veinotte). The upper-class people that were at the gig had been awaiting a different Earth and totally different style of music. The night was a disaster and the band knew that a new band name was in order. Geezer suggested that the band change its name to Black Sabbath’, the name of a horror movie during that time.
Black Sabbath got some gigs on its own, but more often the band would wait where other bands were scheduled to perform. If the scheduled band failed to show up, Black Sabbath would take their position on stage. In January 1969, they played the Star Club in Hamburg, a place made famous by The Beatles. The club booked the band for future shows after the outstanding performance. They played seven shows a day and wrote new music and lyrics as they went.
Black Sabbath completed their first album and released it on Friday, February 13, 1970. The album was recorded in only eight hours with a cost of approximately $1200 in United States currency, which was very cheap for the time. During the recording, the band still lacked popularity, but just did what they enjoyed, which was sing about the gloomy side of life. At this point, the four men were having a great time and did not expect to make it very big in the music industry.
Ozzy brought the album home to proudly show his parents. The Osbourne’s were the type of people who would sit around the phonogram with a beer and merrily sing alone to the records. This was not to be though. When Mr. Osbourne heard the album he asked John, “Are you sure you were just drinking alcohol?, this isn’t music, this is weird.” The first song began with a church bell tolling and the sound of rain falling in the background, and was eerie to say the least. Ozzy too had not heard the final product until now. It would reach #8 in the UK charts and #23 in the United States. (Veinotte)
Coming out of nowhere, the band began to make a name for itself. The release of the new album meant they would go on tour. The tour led the group to the United States. The United States of America had a great impact on the band. It was like a world unlike anything the band had ever experienced. The dirty side of rock and roll became prevalent to Black Sabbath with the American experience.
Later in 1970, the band was working on their next album and released the single, “Paranoid”, during the process. Due to the extremely popular single, Black Sabbath had to face wild crowds that would swarm the stage. A great amount of the band’s equipment was stolen or destroyed. These events scared Ozzy and he deemed that the band should not release singles (Langley). The new album entitled “Paranoid” took four days to record. The release date of “Paranoid” was in January of 1971.
Later in 1971, Black Sabbath released “Masters of Reality”. This album reached 5th place in the UK, and 8th place in the US charts (Westenberg). The next year, the band released their fourth album, appropriately entitled “Volume 4”. At this point, each member of the group was getting into heavy drug use, which fueled the band’s lyrical content.
Four years later the band finally released the following album, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. This album was very different from their previous albums. The band took a different approach at writing this album, in which they had a very upbeat and energetic sound compared to the gloomy sound that they were previously known for (Signatures Network Inc). After their fifth album, the band began experimenting with a progressive sound. In 1976, Black Sabbath released “Technical Ecstasy”, which did not do very well (Veinotte).
The death of Ozzy’s father in 1977 took a serious toll on the vocalist, and caused him to leave Black Sabbath. With the help of Dave Walker, a former member of Fleetwood Mac, the rest of the band continued to work on their next album, “Never Say Die”. Ozzy wanted back in soon after he quit. Since he refused to sing anything that was written without him, the band rewrote the whole album. In the winter of 1977, Black Sabbath recorded “Never Say Die” at Toronto, Onterio.
Everything went downhill from that point on. This band that had become the godfathers of metal had cars, houses, success, but lacked the ambition to produce any more albums. Ozzy wanted to release another album for the sole purpose of getting even richer (Langley).
Ozzy began skipping practices for weeks at a time, which was causing the band to deteriorate at an alarming pace. Finally, Ozzy was fired from the band and the original Black Sabbath was gone for the next 19 years.
This band that originated in England has influenced bands and the music industry all over the globe. Anyone that has the slightest interest in the genre of metal knows of Ozzy’s contributions through Black Sabbath and his solo career. It is an undeniable fact that Black Sabbath is one of the main roots of modern heavy metal.
Langley, Michael. “Ozzy Osbourne FAQ/Biography.” (1999). 21 February 2005.
Rolling Stone Magazine. “The Complete Black Sabbath.” (2005). 20 February 2005.
Signatures Network Inc. “Ozzy Osbourne.”(2005). 20 February 2005.
Veinotte, Barry. “Ozzy.” (2004). 20 February 2005.
Westenberg, Kevin. “Black Sabbath: Bio.” (2005). 21 February 2005.