Pi­o­neer­ing metal band heads into the void

Black Sab­bath­call­ing it quits af­ter fi­nal tour fu­elled by tea

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE - By Erin Le­bar Erin.le­bar@freep­ress.mb.ca Twit­ter: @NireRa­bel

IN Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land, in 1968, a quar­tet of rock­ers be­gan the ca­reer of a life­time. Now, nearly 50 years, nu­mer­ous lineup changes and 19 al­bums later, Ozzy Os­bourne, Geezer But­ler, Tony Iommi and tour­ing drum­mer Tommy Clufe­tos are about to em­bark on their last tour as Black Sab­bath, aptly ti­tled The End.

But­ler and Os­bourne say it was a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion this would be the pi­o­neer­ing metal band’s last ad­ven­ture on the road, and are adamant the tour is in­deed a fi­nal farewell to Black Sab­bath — when The End is done, that’s it; there will be no new mu­sic re­leased and no more shows.

“We’re all get­ting up there in age, and while we’re still at the top of our pro­fes­sion, both mu­si­cally and es­thet­i­cally, we wanted to go out on the top and we feel that this is the right time to do it,” says bassist But­ler, 66, dur­ing a con­fer­ence call.

“(2013 al­bum) 13 was our first No. 1 ever in the United States and we wanted to end it on a high note,” adds Os­bourne, 67.

Life has changed a lot for Black Sab­bath since their early, more mis­chievous days. They have been open about the drug- and al­co­hol-filled an­tics of their past, but in­sist life on the road is much tamer than it used to be.

“We don’t go and do bags of pow­der and f---ing al­co­hol any­more and smoke our brains out,” Os­bourne says. “We’ve got­ten bet­ter. I’ve gone past it, what­ever ev­ery­body else says... If you want to carry on, you’ve got to take care of your­self or you won’t. You know, it was great, but it’s over for me now.”

“We have nice cups of tea to­gether now,” But­ler says with a chuckle.

“And cook­ies,” adds Os­bourne. “Be­lieve me, I never thought that they’d be call­ing me and say, ‘Let’s have tea.’ That’s crazy, you know. What’s hap­pened to rock ‘n’ roll?”

Time was a large theme of the dis­cus­sion, as it is when any­thing of great length and in­flu­ence comes to an end, but Os­bourne and But­ler aren’t the type to drown in nos­tal­gia. They are ap­pro­pri­ately proud of what they have ac­com­plished, but are sur­pris­ingly mod­est when asked about their in­flu­ence on metal and rock mu­sic.

“When I used to go to the Oz­zfest, fans would come to me and go, ‘I love Sab­bath.’ And you don’t re­al­ize the im­pact you have,” says Os­bourne. “I sup­pose that’s a good thing... it took me awhile to get my head around the fact that peo­ple ac­tu­ally love what we do, what you did as kids, be­cause you don’t think that.”

Mor­tal­ity, too, was some­thing Os­bourne touched on nu­mer­ous times, both in the con­text of be­ing glad he and his band­mates man­aged to make it through their “wild life­style” rel­a­tively un­scathed, and, of course, in re­la­tion to the re­cent deaths of a few mu­sic leg­ends, in­clud­ing his good friend Lemmy Kilmis­ter of Motör­head.

“He lived the life­style to the end, you know?” Os­bourne says of Kilmis­ter. “I lost a dear friend there. He was a good guy. And, when you look at him, you wouldn’t think that he’s got a sen­si­ble brain, but he was very well-read. He was a very clever guy and was a re­ally good mate of mine. He’s cer­tainly missed. I mean I won’t for­get Lemmy Kilmis­ter.”

Kilmis­ter died last month of can­cer, a dis­ease Black Sab­bath is all too fa­mil­iar with, as gui­tarist Iommi has been bat­tling non-Hodgkins lym­phoma since 2012. How­ever, Os­bourne says Iommi is do­ing well, look­ing great and “ready to go.”

But­ler and Os­bourne say The End tour will con­sist of a col­lec­tion of their favourite songs from over the years, fo­cus­ing less on newer tracks from 13 and more on clas­sics they know the fans want to hear dat­ing back to their 1970 self-ti­tled de­but.

“Para­noid never gets old. Iron Man never gets old. You would think af­ter 40 years I would be say­ing, ‘Oh no, not

Iron Man again,’ but it’s not... ev­ery­time I play, I play it like it’s the first time,” says Os­bourne.

“The re­sponse from the au­di­ence that we get al­ways keeps them fresh, any­way,” But­ler says.

The pair haven’t thought too much about what life will be like af­ter Black Sab­bath has come to an end. Os­bourne notes he will con­tinue work on his solo ca­reer, per­haps go­ing out on small tours here and there. For But­ler, get­ting through this tour is enough of a task to fo­cus on.

Some­thing both mu­si­cians can agree upon is it feels good to have Black Sab­bath end on good terms.

“Black Sab­bath has been through the mill over the years. To come back and be friends with my bud­dies who I started up with all those years ago, it’s clo­sure for me to have a chap­ter of my life, which I can say, ‘Well we came, we saw, we had a good time, and now it’s over,’ ” says Os­bourne.

“I mean it’s good that, at the end of my days on this planet, I can say, ‘Well, we ended OK.’ ”


Ozzy Os­bourne (above), Tony Iommi (pro­jected on screen in back­ground), Geezer But­ler and tour­ing drum­mer Tommy Clufe­tos are get­ting close to The End.

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