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Black Sabbath: Ozzy Years

Updated on February 23, 2017

Early Names

The band had a slide guitar player and saxophone player when it went under the name The Polka Tulk Blues Band. The name was apparently based on a brand of talcum powder. In 1968 they went by Earth Blues Company which was later abbreviated to just Earth. Another name they considered using was Blues Band Margarine which drew inspiration from Blue Band Margarine a product found in a local supermarket.

Tony Iommi

Tony Iommi learned to play guitar at a young while being confined to his room by his strict parents. At 17 years old Tony decided to quit his job working in a factory and start pursuing a career in music. Interestingly on his last day of work he cut the middle and ring fingers on his right hand. He had to put banjo strings on his guitar, down-tune his guitar and play using thimbles which resulted in the creation of his distinctive guitar playing.

Bill Ward

At the age of 7 he started playing the drums and by age 15 he started playing for audiences. From 1963 on he played in various bands including Mythology, Method 5 and The Rest. In 1964 Bill ward first met Tony, in 1967 Bill first met Geezer, and in 1968 Bill met Ozzy for the first time. His influences, among others, were jazz bands, early rock ‘n roll, and Buddy Rich.

John "Ozzy" Osbourne

Ozzy's first times on stage were for school plays he performed in, but he didn't start singing until he formed Rare Breed with Geezer Butler in fall 1967. The band played for audiences twice before it was terminated .He suffered from dyslexia as a kid, and ended up quitting school at the age of 15. Sometime in his teenage years he got caught for stealing and spent 6 weeks in prison.

Terrence "Geezer" Butler

Reportedly his nickname comes from calling anyone around him "geezer." His first band was Rare Breed, which he founded alongside band mate Ozzy Osbourne in fall 1967. Geezer played rhythm guitar in Rare Breed but the band did not last long and was soon disbanded. Geezer started playing bass guitar after Tony mentioned that the group didn't need 2 guitar players and so he took up bass instead. In response to Tony de-tuning his guitar Geezer also de-tuned his bass guitar, creating a unique style of playing that defined heavy metal.

How the Guys Met

Back in 1964 Bill Ward met Toni Iommi and ended up playing in a band with him, when they quit that band they needed a new singer. They saw an advertisement that said "Ozzy Zig need a gig", which led them to none other than the future Prince of Darkness. Interestingly Tony Iommi had gone to the same school as Ozzy but never knew that he was a singer. So Tony turned to Bill and mentioned to him that he had known Ozzy and that he thought Ozzy couldn't sing and so they gave up on him. Around this time Ozzy had been playing music with Geezer and was looking for a drummer. He happened to go to the grocery store Iommi's family owned and saw Tony and Bill there. They asked Bill to be there drummer and he said no. Then all 4 men eventually decided to be in a band together.

Origin of the Name Black Sabbath

The name Black Sabbath and the song “Black Sabbath” was based on the horror movie released in 1964 of the same name starring BorrisKarloff. Geezer Butler being a fan of horror movies and scary novels decided to write the song about the occult. It’s success was overwhelming, it was so popular they decided to name the whole band after it.

Origin of Heavy Metal and Doom Metal

Initially the guys in Black Sabbath did not like the term "heavy metal" in referring to their music. Tony Iommi himself preferred the term "heavy rock". In the 1970s "heavy metal" was used by people in the media to mock the musicians that played with loud deep drumming. Yet eventually they took the term in stride and along with other metal pioneers gained respect for the emerging genre of music. Also their song “Hand of Doom” is said to be where doom metal came from.

Toni Iommi and Jethro Tull

In 1968 Tony Iommi briefly decided to join Jethro Tull after getting encouragement from his band mates to do so. After rejoining the band, which was still called Earth at the time, Tony Iommi’s view on playing music had changed. From then on he would constantly get the band to practice their instruments more.

Debut Album

Black Sabbath recorded its self named album in just one studio session in November 1969. Although the album did not get praise from critics fans in America and Britain loved the band.

Origins of Vol. 4 Album Title

This album was originally supposed to be called “Snowblind” after arguably the most popular song on the album. Yet their record label, Warner Bros., did not want that to be the name because of it’s cocaine references. Thus the name was changed to Vol. 4. The album linear notes thanks the Coke company, which is a thinly veil salute to cocaine.

Ozzy Quits

In 1977 Ozzy quit the band for a brief amount of time. He was replaced by Dave Walker, who was featured on an earlier version of the song “Junior’s Eyes.” The song was recorded in January of 1978 and is the only song that was recorded by Dave Walker with Black Sabbath. It was later featured on Never Say Die.

Ozzy Gets Kicked Out

Tony Iommi had Bill Ward tell Ozzy that he was no longer in the band. The other 3 members of the band were getting tired of Ozzy constantly being drunk and having to tell the big wigs at Warner Bros. that things were under control and there would be another album made.

Ozzy Trashes His Music

Ozzy has mentioned in an interview after leaving Black Sabbath that he thought using an orchestra in their music was “rubbish” as he called it. He also was not happy about using high quality studio equipment that he felt was not true to the origins of Black Sabbath.


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