Ozzy is God!!! Ok, maybe not a God, but Iron Man, he is definitely Iron Man! It's hard to believe The Oz-Man has survived almost 70 years on the planet that he named his first band after- Earth.
As great as Mr. Osbourne is he is only a quarter of equals who make Black Sabbath the Second Greatest Hard Rock Group of all time, behind only the mighty Zeppelin.
Much as been said about how "The Godfathers of Metal" came upon their unique sound thanks to an unlikely accident to Riff-God Tony Iommi. An accident that gave birth to dozens of genres.
Dark Metal, Death Metal, Stoner Rock... The list goes on. But it's not just a de-tuned sound that makes Sabbath so influential in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. The secret lies within the Riff-God himself, Mr. Iommi! If you were ever blessed to have witnessed the mighty Sabbath in concert you will know what I'm talking about. Hundreds, even thousands of people all humming and singing along in unison, not to lyrics, but to Tony's riffs!
I remember my friend Leslie and I were just getting into heavy rock, and for some reason, there was another younger kid down the block who had a "Master Of Reality" album. It was probably his dads or his older sisters. Ok, on second thought, probably definitely his dads! Chic's don't dig Sabbath! Ha!
Anyway, I wasn't sure what it was going to take to get this slab of Sabbath from the little brat. I sure wasn't giving up any Kiss or Aerosmith for it, and Leslie wasn't for sure giving up anything. Hey, what are friends for anyway?
So, instead of quality we went with quantity and offered him some old Chicago, Three Dog Night and Bee Gee records my Mom had given me. Success! I couldn't understand why he would give up an actual Sabbath album for all those "weak" bands!
And then I played the album for the first time...
What we heard next blew our minds... but not in a good way! I swear it sounded like the album was recorded in a toilet or something. The sound was dark, thuddering, and the tempo was all slowed down in speed. I literally thought something was wrong with the record player. Did I have it on the right setting? Maybe putting it to "45" would make it sound better. Nope, now it sounded like a bunch of chipmunks, Hey Alvin!!!
As was the case with Led Zeppelin's Light and Shade, it would take me a few years to really get a grasp of the "Stoner Sound" of Sabbath. In high school I picked up the 8-track of "We Sold Our Souls For Rock And Roll" and reconnected with that familiar toilet bowl sound again. This time out my mind was blown again, but in a very positive way, as those Iommi riffs were like peanut butter to my ear jelly. Plus, I didn't need to be stoned to get the munchies for this type of music!
Then In the 90's I scarfed up every Sabbath CD I could find and was surprised at how well the digital age enhanced that "toilet bowl" sound. I could then realize that it wasn't just the Ozzy and Iommi show. Geezer Butler is probably the greatest lyricist in Rock, and his playful bass lines help keep Tony's guitar riffs moving forward. I also now appreciate how great a drummer Bill Ward is. For such a dark and gloomy rock band, Bill had a certain "swing" feel in his drumming that was the bread to keep all these incredible talents together.
The older I get the more I can relate to the Soul of Sabbath. I would gladly stick my head in any toilet to hear these Iron Men play again...
NOTE: The cool color photo above of the mighty Black Sabbath was taken by my wife Danette West, The Rocker Chic, during Sabbath's "Reunion" tour in Las Vegas as part of my 50th birthday celebration.