Black Sabbath is an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.
Osbourne’s regular use of alcohol and other drugs led to his dismissal from the band in 1979. He was replaced by former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. In 1992, Iommi and Butler rejoined Dio and drummer Vinny Appice to record Dehumanizer (1992). The original line-up reunited with Osbourne in 1997 and released a live album Reunion (1998). 13 (2013) featured all of the original members but Ward, who declined to participate. Following an intense tour in support of 13, Butler left Sabbath once again in 1984, being replaced by former Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber. Butler rejoined Black Sabbath for the reunion tours in 1997 and 1999. Ward again sat out these reunions, with drummer Eric Singer taking his place.
In 2006, Iommi was diagnosed with cancer and began undergoing treatment. Afterward, all four original members reunited for a world tour that culminated in a live album, Iron Man: The Live Anthology (2007), and a documentary film titled God Is Dead? (2013).
Black Sabbath toured sporadically until 2011 when they embarked on what was intended to be their final tour, entitled The End. In November 2017, it was revealed that Iommi had commenced writing new material with Geezer Butler.
The band’s influence on heavy metal has been profound, with Rolling Stone magazine listing them as “the heaviest band of all time”, and MTV calling them the “Godfathers of Heavy Metal”. They have sold over 70 million records worldwide. Black Sabbath were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. They have also won two Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance.
1) Sabbath Bloody Sabbath- One of the most important albums to come out of not just Black Sabbath, but also to help pioneer heavy metal as a whole, is 1973’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. This was the first album to feature new keyboardist Rick Wakeman from Yes, and is often cited as the best Sabbath album by many fans and critics.
2) Ozzy Osbourne- While all of the members of Black Sabbath are important, it’s hard to deny that without Ozzy Osbourne, Sabbath may not have been nearly as successful as they were. His unique voice and onstage antics helped propel the band to new heights, and while he was eventually fired from the band due to his drug use, he has since rejoined them on multiple occasions.
3) “Iron Man”- One of Black Sabbath’s most iconic songs is “Iron Man” from their 1970 album Paranoid. The song is about a superhero who is betrayed and left for dead, but returns for revenge. The song has been covered by many artists, and was even featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Iron Man 3.
4) “Paranoid”- The title track from Paranoid is also one of Sabbath’s most well-known songs. It was written in just minutes before a recording session, and went on to become one of the band’s biggest hits. The song is about someone who is paranoid and paranoid about everyone around them, and the lyrics reflect that feeling of paranoia.
5) “War Pigs”- Another iconic Black Sabbath song is “War Pigs” from their 1970 album Paranoid. The song is a criticism of war, and specifically the Vietnam War. It was written by bassist Geezer Butler, and is one of the band’s most political songs.
6) “Black Sabbath”- The song that started it all is, of course, Black Sabbath’s self-titled song from their 1970 debut album. The song is about a man who has a vision of a dark figure, and is considered to be one of the first heavy metal songs ever written. It set the stage for everything that Black Sabbath would do in their career, and is still one of their most popular songs.
7) “Children of the Grave”- One of Black Sabbath’s most anti-war songs is “Children of the Grave” from their 1971 album Master of Reality. The song is about the children who are left behind after a war, and how they will be the ones to end the cycle of war. It is one of the band’s most powerful songs, and is still relevant today.
8) “Into the Void”- Another classic Black Sabbath song is “Into the Void” from their 1971 album Master of Reality. The song is about someone who is lost in space, and is one of Sabbath’s most atmospheric songs. It features some of Iommi’s best guitar work, and is a fan favorite.
9) “Snowblind”- One of Black Sabbath’s most popular songs is “Snowblind” from their 1972 album Vol. 4. The song is about someone who is addicted to cocaine, and the lyrics reflect that addiction. It is one of the band’s most personal songs, and is a fan favorite.
10) “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”- The final song on this list is “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” from the album of the same name. The song is about the band’s struggles with drug addiction, and how it was affecting their music. It is one of the band’s most honest songs, and is a fan favorite.