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Sunday Old School: Black Sabbath History Month Part 3 - Lost Forever?

Photo of Black Sabbath

Band Photo: Black Sabbath (?)

As so many of our readers are aware, in the United States, the month of February is Black History Month. It’s also the time when we devote the Sunday Old School column to Black Metal history. What many of our readers might not know however, is that Black History Month is also held in the United Kingdom, albeit on a far less noticed scale. Since it doesn’t make sense to dedicate two months of the year to one genre, Metal Underground and Sunday Old School in particular, will focus on a different history, that of arguably the first, and many would say best, heavy metal band of all time. Welcome to Black Sabbath History Month!

After losing three iconic singers in Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan, Black Sabbath were dealt yet another huge blow when Geezer Butler decided to quit, leaving guitarist Tony Iommi as the sole original remaining member. Iommi decided that he should record a solo album and leave Black Sabbath alone, though their name was soon brought back when the original lineup reunited to perform at Live Aid in the United States, however it wasn’t the full time resurgence fans had hoped for, as Ozzy returned to his solo career immediately afterwards. Iommi returned to the studio and continued to work on his solo album, along with vocalist Glenn Hughes, another former member of Deep Purple.

Despite the intentions of a solo album, the record company were absolutely adamant that the effort be released as a Black Sabbath album and so a compromise was met whereby the record, "Seventh Star," was credited to Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi, which arguably hurt the output more than it helped, as the music on show bore very little resemblance to anything Black Sabbath had done before, having much more in common with the glam metal scene which was popular at the time. Singer issues would also come up again as Hughes was fired only five shows into the supporting tour and was replaced by Ray Gillen. Though panned upon release, the album was able to climb into the Billboard top 100 and contained a relatively successful single in, "No Stranger to Love," the video of which featured actress Denise Crosby, who would later find fame as Tasha Yar in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Although replacing Glenn Hughes, Ray Gillen was fired before a new album could be completed and his place was taken by Tony Martin, formerly of the Alliance. Another former Rainbow member, Bob Daisley was also recruited on bass and the band released a new album in 1987 named, "The Eternal Idol." It crept into the American album charts and remained there for six weeks, though reactions to the album were once again more negative than not. The lukewarm reception led to the band being dropped by Vertigo and Black Sabbath were now forced to search for a new home, eventually being picked up by I.R.S. Records.

Cozy Powell, a legendary drummer and another Rainbow alumnus was brought in for the new album, along with bass player Laurence Cottle, who was credited only as an additional musician and the new incarnation recorded the fourteenth Black Sabbath album, "Headless Cross," which was released to mostly good reviews in 1989. It is generally regarded as the best album of the Tony Martin era and is perhaps even an underrated gem amongst a catalogue with brighter stones. In contrast to the album’s reception however, touring proved to be a problem for the band and a North American trek was cancelled due to lack of interest, though they faired better in Europe and Japan, where they performed a headlining tour supported by Girlschool.

The European fan base was not always there for the band however, as was shown after Black Sabbath released their next album, "Tyr," a record which had a recurring theme of Norse mythology, though wasn’t quite considered a concept album. The shows in Europe were, like the American ones before, forced to be called off because of poor ticket sales. With their name no longer carrying the respect it once did, it seemed only divine intervention could save them from obscurity, and maybe it was God who saved the band, even if he did use his Italian name…

Missed the previous parts of the series? You can check them out by clicking the links below.

Black Sabbath History Month Part 1

Black Sabbath History Month Part 2

Black Sabbath - "No Stranger to Love"

Black Sabbath - "The Shining"

Black Sabbath - "Headless Cross"

Black Sabbath - "Feels Good to Me"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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4 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Black Sabbath Part 3"

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deathbringer's avatar

Founder, owner & programmer

1. deathbringer writes:

The Shining definitely has a glam feel to it, but Headless Cross is a solid song. I keep debating if it's worth picking up any of the Tony Martin era Sabbath, and haven't yet...

# Oct 19, 2014 @ 7:13 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
spiral_architect's avatar

Member

2. spiral_architect writes:

I PAY WAY TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO THE OZZY AND DIO ERAS - AND EVEN THE GILLAN AND HUGHES ALBUMS - TO BE LISTENING TO THE WEAK MARTIN ERA. YES, I HAD THE ETERNAL IDOL WHEN IT CAME OUT ON TAPE, BUT I'M REALLY NOT TOO EAGER TO GET ANY MARTIN ERA CD'S.

NP - OZZY OSBOURNE "CIVILIZE THE UNIVERSE"

# Oct 19, 2014 @ 7:52 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. spudalmighty writes:

A great era for the band. Some fantastic musicians, criminally underrated songs and some cool album covers.

Beats the light weight s**t from the late 70s!

# Oct 20, 2014 @ 10:14 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
spiral_architect's avatar

Member

4. spiral_architect writes:

TECHNICAL ECSTASY AND NEVER SAY DIE MAY BE THE OVERALL WEAKEST OF THE ORIGINAL SABBATH RUN, BUT THERE ARE SOME DEEP CUTS ON THOSE ALBUMS THAT CAN STAND UP WITH SABBATH'S FINEST.

# Oct 21, 2014 @ 9:56 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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