There is a stark truth among the pioneers of Heavy Metal: none of them chose to come to music to play rock. With Black Sabbath, whose musical backgrounds were the least spectacular compared to the other two names in the Trinity trio of Heavy Rock - Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, even the reason for coming to music in the first place was just to escape from the heavy and dry life in the town of Aston, Birmingham at that time. Without music, they probably only had two options: went to factories like Tony Iommi used to do, or learned to repair something as a job to work here and there to work "for leisure", like the way that John Osbourne's father tried to force his "crazy" son to do it.
“It was like the Bronx in New York later on” - recalled Tony Iommi. And Black Sabbath became the meeting place of four Aston boys who could not stand a life of boring routines, but they also could not afford their life to escape that small town either. Tony Iommi was working on a steel stamping machine at the time and he had the tip of his middle finger. His entirely ring knuckle of his guitar keyboard was cut off. And on paper, it became “incompetent” even for decades that injury was still just young skin which could not heal completely. Ozzy Osbourne was crazy about installing horns on cars. Just imagine when Ozzy all day fidgeted with his head and fixed the horn for the guy in the car to test day in and day out. Bill Ward was attached to the drums and he started playing jazz at the age of ten. And he decided this would be his life's destiny; Geezer Butler even started playing bass when he joined Black Sabbath.
Perhaps it did not take much to understand what these four guys have been through, especially with the "big brother" Tony Iommi whose journey was to come to music. From the days that when he patiently sat down to smelt and then he poured metal into tiny caps on his fingers so he could continue to play dumb (Tony had tried to switch to playing the right-handed guitar but couldn't). Or when he rummaged around how to fitt a banjo string on a guitar because guitar strings were too heavy and thick for him to be able to wring the strings with those iron-clad fingers. Tony even had to lower all the strings by half to three semitones (played at level of Eb standard, D standard, even Db standard) so he could press and pinch while riffing. The dull guitar sound was not planned, suddenly it became the characteristic sound of Black Sabbath as well as of later Heavy Metal.
To me, there are achievements that Black Sabbath has created that are truly amazing, perhaps surpassing the imagination of even the fans of this band, but it is only the presence of four membersIommi, Ward, Osbourne, and Butler who have been able to create. Here it is, Tony Iommi must have thought about all the riffs needed for Heavy Metal and guitar tuning for all of Metal's subgenres, or for all in the first 10 years of Sabbath. Ozzy Osbourne, whose voice was so languid that it was almost out of breath, was not too high and Ozzy Osbourne did not seem too sure of the beat. He could barely manage the squiggly notes in "Symptom of the Universe". And he also created the "" feeling of” spooky when singing the rhythm like in “War pig” or “Black Sabbath”. Geezer Butler turned out to be the silent author of almost all the lyrics to Sabbath's music, with the other guys barely got involved. As for Bill Ward, maybe he just needed to play with the one snare and one kick drum kit to create all kinds of climaxes that serve as the foundation for Sabbath's music.
However, except for Tony Iommi, the remaining guys, if separated, can hardly be called any sects, let alone weigh in with the great synagogues of Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple. When listening to just one person's play, the sound of Black Sabbath suddenly became normal. Maybe except for Ozzy Osbourne who kept his clam style after splitting and succeeding, the rest of them all try to do better and do more than they did in the first 10 years of Sabbath, but the results are not close to the sound they created at that time. Their sound must be made up of Tony, Geezer, Ozzy, and Bill playing at the same time
In 10 years from 1968 with the quartet, Black Sabbath out Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), Master Of Reality (1971), Vol 4 (1972), Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973), Sabotage (1974) before fading fade with Technical Ecstasy (1976) and Never Say Die! (1978). And every time critics think they've come to grips with the music on one Sabbath album, they come back with more surprises with the next.
But before Black Sabbath became Black Sabbath and released their first album (the band was still called Earth), Tony Iommi was accidentally invited by Ian Anderson to play for Jethro Tull, who was missing a guitar at the time. The brief time with Jethro Tull (in time for a live album Rock'N'Roll Circus) turned out to be fortunate for Tony, because even though his musical aspirations and Anderson's did not meet, Tony still cherished the time. It was the time where he learned how to lead a band. He learned that music also needed to be considered as a job, from the first thing like rehearsals together, it needed to be a schedule and more important, everyone in the band had to follow it seriously. When the other three guys all followed Tony's instructions, Earth progressed very quickly and the success seemed to be in sight.
For that reason, Earth has no qualms with the dense mini-tours across Europe that their manager, Jim Simpson, puts on them. The musical formula was a little sing-along. And the majority of the player mostly played jams for less than a dozen minutes each on the 12-bar blues background with 45-minute set every night, 7 days a week. It has been forged Tony's chemistry with his teammates, sharpened Earth's drum riffs, and Black Sabbath's volume and break were instantly loud enough to drown out people talking in below. By the way, Ozzy still did not know how to sing until now.
His debut album Black Sabbath came out in early 1970, and Earth changed its name to Black Sabbath (after the name of the first track for a quick start), and Tony was also aware that at the same time, Led Zeppelin was doing things that no one reached before with their heavy sound. The metal of Black Sabbath began to be rekindled, especially in the lyrics that talked about the dark arts, the subjugation of the devil on the background music like horror movies. Of course, at the time, Geezer Butler just wanted to avoid singing about love or praising life, and he wrote miscellaneous horror stories to create his own style. He also did not expect that it established many other branches of Metal such as Black Metal that later took Sabbath as the main influence.
If the first album Black Sabbath was still heavily influenced by the Blues with many lengthy tracks that were more jam-oriented than songs, the strongest highlight was probably Tony Iommi's riffs that appeared as a pillar for the audience with two established names, Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page. The good news was that going into the second album, the Sabbath members already knew what they needed to do in the studio. Paranoid was released later that year. And it became a phenomenon and went down in history as one of the most influential albums, with “War pigs”, “Paranoid”, “Planet Caravan”, “Iron Man”, or “Iron Man”. Fairies Wear Boots”, if not all tracks were unique. Ozzy's dispassionate singing of ghastly words written by Geezer Butler on Tony Iommi's riffs has become a recognizable trademark not only in Europe but also boldly the US, Japanese, and Australia internationally.
The release of Master Of Reality (1971) then officially drew all those who were in their teens at the time to their passion for satanic and dark things. And let's not forget tracks like "Children Of The Grave" that gave the kids of the day the idea that they would create what would come to be known as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) for almost a decade after that (with the punk contribution, of course, but wait a few more years). Scored a hat-trick with three albums? No, Sabbath did even more with the 1972 "Poker" completed with Vol 4, the album began to feature many melodic contributions from Ozzy Osbourne, with influences from John Lennon and Paul McCartney from his early days. This young boy began to take shape in his musical personality, and the full experience of all three players produced sounds and noises rarely seen in studios at the time. The progression of Ozzy and the sound effects were also what make Vol 4 so colorful and completely new compared to the previous 3 albums.
Even so, it was not too hard to realize that Black Sabbath has always been Tony Iommi's band even though Ozzy's personality was getting bigger and bigger. Typically, when the band collapsed after running out of ideas (before Bloody Sabbath) or exhausted from performing (before Sabotage), all the brothers turned to look at Tony, expecting an idea. Just imagine, a riff could change, and Tony had a way to respond. He dragged the team to write and record the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in a ghost castle (Bill Ward saw so many ghosts that he had to sleep with a clever knife because he thought ghosts were afraid of knives) with more synth parts than discs prior to. Amidst the horror of recordings but still afraid of ghosts, Tony came up with a "career-saving" riff in the song "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", and Ozzy Osbourne started having his first self-written song with "Who are you". The album Bloody Sabbath released and went platinum for the fifth consecutive year in the US, and Black Sabbath began to receive better management when it was transferred to the legendary Don Arden. With Sabotage after that, Tony even produced albums like his colleague Jimmy Page, and created a series of immortal songs like "Symptom of The Universe", where Ozzy was forced to sing as high as never before , or “Megalomania” with its respectable instrumentals.
But no matter how talented Tony Iommi was, the Black Sabbath's uniqueness must be maintained by the contributions of all four. When Ozzy Osbourne began to debauchery with his harmful addictions, Tony's riffs or Bill Ward's mature drums couldn't save Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die! afterward. Ozzy Osbourne was fired in 1979 as a necessity to save the exhausted squad that didn't even want to see each other, and Black Sabbath suddenly became weak and bewildered on the threshold of entering the new 80s with the rise of NWOBHM and then American glam metal. Tony Iommi accepted the fact that it was impossible to find a singer to replace Ozzy, who had to be both good enough to fill the void and wise enough to face the inevitable comparisons and derision with others predecessors that the world was waiting for.
Of course, it didn't wait until the new Sabbath singer was named as soon as Ozzy broke away from a solo career, the music industry rubbed hands with joy at the new pastime aka the unofficial Black Sabbath race and Ozzy Osbourne. Ironically, Don Arden's daughter, Sharon followed Ozzy and became the manager that turned his career upside down (Sharon Arden instigated Ozzy to spend a million and a half pounds to buy back his self-determination with Sabbath music from old father Don).
Meanwhile, Tony had to replace dozens of singers since Ozzy and the most memorable albums were probably Heaven And Hell with Ronnie James Dio (1980), the album that seemed to change Tony's luck into the new decade. But it turned out that no singer could sing like Ozzy, playing between beats and notes because when everyone else sange on the right note, Black Sabbath's music suddenly lost its ghostly charm it. Bill Ward was probably the one who often brought this out the most also because in Sabbath, Bill was a close friend to Ozzy like a brother, while Geezer and Tony often sticked together as a couple. Tony Iommi has always been silent and worried about preserving the Sabbath, accepting all the changes so that the next production could return to the sound of the past. In the 70s, every time Sabbath released an album, they humiliated the critics?
Tony could not keep up with Bill Ward's patience, and Dio demanded Sabbath to take on his drummer, Vinny Appice. Then there were also brief associations with the likes of Ian Gillan, former Deep Purple singer (Born Again 1983), Judas Priest's Rob Halford, or Glen Hughes, another former Purple (Seventh Star 1986), all pointing to adding to the disappointment of the Sabbath brand. Experiments with playing two guitars with Geoff Nichols, or even bringing in the legendary British drummer, Cozy Powell, did not help Sabbath escape the situation of "walking corpses" in the new era. Perhaps all that could be done, stubborn Tony Iommi has tried it all.
There were also a few times when Tony Iommi tried to turn out to do something not for Sabbath (like the 1986 Seventh Star album with strange names) but it was not approved by Don Arden and Warner Bros. Perhaps it was not exaggerated to call Tony Iommi the first ill-fated victim of the music industry's blender, when there was no self-determination about his music products. And here, it seemed that Tony's "naivety" to the music world compared to his colleagues in Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple appeared cruel because it seemed that Tony did not even have the slightest intention of betraying fought for his and Sabbath's interests - he was both in the "bottom door" position in front of the label and management. While at the same time on Ozzy Osbourne's team, musicians came and went, but the quality of the music, the ability to break the charts, and the tactics of public appearances were all highly unified.
Seventh Star with Tony Iommi's own music
And yet, Ozzy's departure probably indirectly made things worse for Tony, as it led to a split in the Arden family, when Sharon Osbourne because of Ozzy became an enemy of her own father, old father Don. “Failing to cooperate means confronting” is also the motto of the Arden family. Many times that evil group hit the weakest point in Tony Iommi's heart, when constantly suggesting reunions with Ozzy Osbourne and Butler, Ward's skeleton. Out of ten times, there were nine times the disappointment and humiliation was still Tony Iommi, when Ozzy repeatedly rejected the idea of reuniting, or Ozzy's crew pulled out of the contract at the last minute. Indeed, in this chaotic and complicated world, we knew almost nothing about the human heart.
It wasn't until 2000, that Tony Iommi "caught up" with his obsession with Sabbath and released his first solo album named after him. It turned out that it wasn't a big deal because Tony went on to release other albums after that, and secretly regretted that Seventh Star was never recognized as a solo album to help the world better understand his guitar talent. Looking to the side, Geezer Butler turns out, after separating, has released his own solo album since 1996, and Bill Ward has his own toys since 1992.
Since Iommi (2000), Black Sabbath has featured a single album with the original skeleton back in 2013.
I wouldn't sit here wondering what the world would be like if Tony Iommi had given up on the guitar back then, or what miracles Tony could have done if his hands had enough fingers. On the contrary, I appreciated that Tony had all the determination in the world plus a little inspiration from Django Reinhart, the jazz guitarist who only had two fingers pressed by the aftermath of an accident. He not only created produces the sound of Metal from groundbreaking riffs and lows, but also created unprecedented things that few people noticed, like making thinner strings out of banjo strings, or creating guitar that could be swapped out to pick up different tones. It was a long ago when people commercialized those products. Tony Iommi has turned the disadvantaged things that were the result of one misfortune to shine brightly in another field.
Only the fact that he was suppressed by the management team, I really can't help it.
See you again.