Black Sab­bath put pedal back to metal.......

The re­union and tour has come to­gether, writes Kathy McCabe

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - NEWS -

IT was the stuff of fan­boy turned mid­dle-aged man dreams – the orig­i­nal Black Sab­bath would re­unite to record a new al­bum and tour the world.

Any­one who had fol­lowed the che­quered four-decade ca­reer of one of the world’s most in­flu­en­tial heavy metal bands sus­pected it wasn’t go­ing to be as easy as it all seemed at the Los Angeles press con­fer­ence a year ago.

Their plans re­ceived a body blow in Jan­uary when gui­tarist Tony Iommi was di­ag­nosed with lym­phoma. The fol­low­ing month, drum­mer Bill Ward dropped out of the re­union be­cause of a con­trac­tual dis­pute. De­spite con­tin­ued ne­go­ti­a­tions, he stated in May that the par­ties had failed to reach an agree­ment.

Front­man Ozzy Os­bourne and bassist Geezer But­ler kept the stu­dio fires burn­ing while Iommi un­der­went treat­ment and en­listed Tommy Clufe­tos, who plays in the front­man’s solo band, to step in for Ward.

With suc­cess­ful – if oc­ca­sion­ally be­mus­ing – gigs in their home­town of Birm­ing­ham, the Down­load Fes­ti­val and Lol­la­palooza un­der their belts and at least five new songs com­pleted with pro­ducer Rick Rubin, Os­bourne is in high spir­its at their Mal­ibu stu­dio.

‘‘Oh yeah, oh yeah, it’s great to be back record­ing with the guys and play­ing with them,’’ he says.

‘‘It didn’t work out with Bill Ward and Tony had lym­phoma and was hav­ing treat­ment so it’s been start and stop and start and stop but he’s mak­ing a good re­cov­ery so far. That knocked us for a six but he’s han­dling it very well, to be hon­est with you.’’

At Lol­la­palooza in Chicago in Au­gust, Os­bourne jumped up and down as he fronted Sab­bath, com­mand­ing his ador­ing fans to ‘‘scream moth­erf...ers’’ and pump their arms in the air.

Os­bourne had the tens of thou­sands of fans in front of the stage – a sea of black t-shirts, old and young, fathers, sons and daugh­ters – in the palm of his hand.

For all Sab­bath’s songs about war, cor­rup­tion and the oc­cult, Os­bourne says he just wants to have fun.

‘‘I have never wanted to be se­ri­ous, to have solemn mu­sic; it’s meant to be fun,’’ he says.

‘‘In ac­tual fact, the way that all hap­pened with the mu­sic and the name and ev­ery­thing, if I can re­mem­ber, is we used to re­hearse in a movie the­atre so we de­cided to try to write songs in­spired by scary movies. Back then it was all flower power and love but for us, liv­ing in the in­dus­trial town of Birm­ing­ham, we liked scary movies.’’

Os­bourne says he strug­gles with the con­cept that Black Sab­bath’s mu­sic has in­flu­enced not just teenage boys, but other bands, across the decades.

He first dis­cov­ered the rev­er­ence with which other mu­si­cians re­garded Sab­bath when Me­tal­lica joined him on his 1986 Dam­age tour, the last time the heirs ap­par­ent would be a sup­port act.

‘‘I came past their dress­ing room and had to ask if they were tak­ing the piss out of me be­cause they were play­ing Sab­bath,’’ he says.

‘‘And at Oz­zfest when the other bands would do that ‘we are not wor­thy’ thing, I couldn’t un­der­stand it. For some­one to tell you ‘Black Sab­bath changed my life’ is a weird thing to get your head around,’’ he says.

Black Sab­bath play the Bris­bane En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre on April 25.

Ozzy Os­bourne (left and above, seated) with (from left) Black Sab­bath band­mates Bill Ward, Tony Iommi and Geezer But­ler.

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