1979–1996: Heaven and Hell to The Sabbath Stones

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1979–1982: Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules 

Sharon Arden (later Sharon Osbourne), daughter of Black Sabbath manager Don Arden, suggested former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio to replace Ozzy Osbourne in 1979. Don Arden was at this point still trying to convince Osbourne to rejoin the band, as he viewed the original line-up as the most profitable. Dio officially joined in June, and the band began writing their next album. With a notably different vocal style from Osbourne's, Dio's addition to the band marked a change in Black Sabbath's sound. "They were totally different altogether", Iommi explains. "Not only voice-wise, but attitude-wise. Ozzy was a great showman, but when Dio came in, it was a different attitude, a different voice and a different musical approach, as far as vocals. Dio would sing across the riff, whereas Ozzy would follow the riff, like in "Iron Man". Ronnie came in and gave us another angle on writing."

Geezer Butler temporarily left the band in September 1979 for personal reasons. According to Dio, the band initially hired Craig Gruber (with whom Dio had previously played while in Elf) on bass to assist with writing the new album. Gruber was soon replaced by Geoff Nicholls of Quartz. The new line-up returned to Criteria Studios in November to begin recording work, with Butler returning to the band in January 1980, and Nicholls moving to keyboards. Produced by Martin Birch, Heaven and Hell was released on 25 April 1980, to critical acclaim. Over a decade after its release Allmusic said the album was "one of Sabbath's finest records, the band sounds reborn and re-energised throughout". Heaven and Hell peaked at number 9 in the UK, and number 28 in the US, the band's highest charting album since Sabotage. The album eventually sold a million copies in the US, and the band embarked on an extensive world tour, making their first live appearance with Dio in Germany on 17 April 1980.

Black Sabbath toured the US throughout 1980 with Blue Öyster Cult on the "Black and Blue" tour, with a show at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York filmed and released theatrically in 1981 as Black and Blue. On 26 July 1980, the band played to 75,000 fans at a sold-out Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with Journey, Cheap Trick, and Molly Hatchet. The next day, the band appeared at the 1980 Day on the Green at Oakland Coliseum. While on tour, Black Sabbath's former label in England issued a live album culled from a seven-year old performance, titled Live at Last without any input from the band. The album reached number five on the British charts, and saw the re-release of "Paranoid" as a single, which reached the top 20.

On 18 August 1980, after a show in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ward quit the band. "It was intolerable for me to get on the stage without Ozzy. And I drank 24 hours a day, my alcoholism accelerated". Geezer Butler stated that after the show, Ward came in drunk, talking about the things where "He might as well be a Martian". Ward then got angry, and decided to pack his things, and get on a bus to leave. The group then brought in drummer Vinny Appice to replace Ward.

The band completed the Heaven and Hell world tour in February 1981, and returned to the studio to begin work on their next album. Black Sabbath's second studio album produced by Martin Birch and featuring Ronnie James Dio as vocalist Mob Rules was released in October 1981, to be well received by fans, but less so by the critics. Rolling Stone reviewer J. D. Considine gave the album one star, claiming "Mob Rules finds the band as dull-witted and flatulent as ever". Like most of the band's earlier work, time helped to improve the opinions of the music press, a decade after its release, Allmusic's Eduardo Rivadavia called Mob Rules "a magnificent record". The album was certified gold, and reached the top 20 on the UK charts. The album's title track "The Mob Rules", which was recorded at John Lennon's old house in England, also featured in the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal, although the film version is an alternate take, and differs from the album version.

Unhappy with the quality of 1980's Live at Last, the band recorded another live album—titled Live Evil—during the Mob Rules world tour, across the United States in Dallas, San Antonio, and Seattle, in 1982. During the mixing process for the album, Iommi and Butler had a falling out with Dio. Misinformed by their then-current mixing engineer, Iommi and Butler accused Dio of sneaking into the studio at night to raise the volume of his vocals. In addition, Dio was not satisfied with the pictures of him in the artwork. "Ronnie wanted more say in things," Iommi said. "And Geezer would get upset with him and that is where the rot set in. Live Evil is when it all fell apart. Ronnie wanted to do more of his own thing, and the engineer we were using at the time in the studio didn't know what to do, because Ronnie was telling him one thing and we were telling him another. At the end of the day, we just said, 'That's it, the band is over'". "When it comes time for the vocal, nobody tells me what to do. Nobody! Because they're not as good as me, so I do what I want to do," Dio later said. "I refuse to listen to Live Evil, because there are too many problems. If you look at the credits, the vocals and drums are listed off to the side. Open up the album and see how many pictures there are of Tony, and how many there are of me and Vinny".

Ronnie James Dio left Black Sabbath in November 1982 to start his own band, and took drummer Vinny Appice with him. Live Evil was released in January 1983, but was overshadowed by Ozzy Osbourne's platinum selling album Speak of the Devil.

1983–1984: Born Again 

The two original members left, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, began auditioning new singers for the band's next release. Samson's Nicky Moore, and Lone Star's John Sloman were considered. The band settled on former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan to replace Ronnie James Dio in December 1982. While the project was not initially set to be called Black Sabbath, pressures from the record label forced the group to retain the name. The band entered The Manor Studios in Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire, in June 1983 with a returned and newly sober Bill Ward on drums. Born Again was panned upon release by critics. Despite the negative reception of the album, it reached number four on the UK charts, and number 39 in the US. Even a decade after its release Allmusic's Eduardo Rivadavia called the album "dreadful", noting that "Gillan's bluesy style and humorous lyrics were completely incompatible with the lords of doom and gloom".

Although he performed on the album, drummer Ward was unable to tour because of the pressures of the road, and quit the band after the commencement of the Born Again album. "I fell apart with the idea of touring," Ward later said. "I got so much fear behind touring, I didn't talk about the fear, I drank behind the fear instead and that was a big mistake." Ward was replaced by former Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan for the Born Again '83 -'84 world tour, (often unofficially referred to as the 'Feigh Death Sabbath '83 – '84' World Tour) which began in Europe with Diamond Head, and later in the US with Quiet Riot and Night Ranger. The band headlined the 1983 Reading Festival in England, adding the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water" to their set list.

The tour in support of Born Again included a giant set of the Stonehenge monument. In a move that would be later parodied in the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, the band made a mistake in ordering the set piece. As Geezer Butler later explained:

We had Sharon Osbourne's dad, Don Arden, managing us. He came up with the idea of having the stage set be Stonehenge. He wrote the dimensions down and gave it to our tour manager. He wrote it down in metres but he meant to write it down in feet. The people who made it saw fifteen metres instead of fifteen feet. It was 45 feet high and it wouldn't fit on any stage anywhere so we just had to leave it in the storage area. It cost a fortune to make but there was not a building on earth that you could fit it into.

1984–1986: Hiatus and Seventh Star 

Following the completion of the Born Again tour in March 1984, vocalist Ian Gillan left Black Sabbath to re-join Deep Purple, which was reforming after a long hiatus. Bevan left at the same time, and Gillan remarked that he and Bevan were made to feel like "hired help" by Iommi. The band then recruited an unknown Los Angeles vocalist named David Donato. The new line-up wrote and rehearsed throughout 1984, and eventually recorded a demo with producer Bob Ezrin in October. Unhappy with the results, the band parted ways with Donato shortly after. Disillusioned with the band's revolving line-up, bassist Geezer Butler quit Black Sabbath in November 1984 to form a solo band. "When Ian Gillan took over that was the end of it for me", Butler later said. "I thought it was just a joke and I just totally left. When we got together with Gillan it was not supposed to be a Black Sabbath album. After we had done the album we gave it to Warner Bros. and they said they were going to put it out as a Black Sabbath album and we didn't have a leg to stand on. I got really disillusioned with it and Gillan was really pissed off about it. That lasted one album and one tour and then that was it."

Following Butler's exit, sole remaining original member Tony Iommi put Black Sabbath on hiatus, and began work on a solo album with long-time Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls. While working on new material, the original Black Sabbath line-up were offered a spot at Bob Geldof's Live Aid benefit concert; the band agreed, performing at the Philadelphia show, on 13 July 1985. The event marked the first time the original line-up appeared on stage since 1978, and also featured reunions of the Who and Led Zeppelin. Returning to his solo work, Iommi enlisted bassist Dave Spitz, drummer Eric Singer and initially intended to use multiple singers, including Rob Halford of Judas Priest, ex-Deep Purple and Trapeze vocalist Glenn Hughes, and ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio. This plan didn't work as he forecasted. "We were going to use different vocalists on the album, guest vocalists, but it was so difficult getting it together and getting releases from their record companies. Glenn Hughes came along to sing on one track and we decided to use him on the whole album."

The band spent the remainder of the year in the studio, recording what would become Seventh Star. Warner Bros. refused to release the album as a Tony Iommi solo release, instead insisting on using the name Black Sabbath. Pressured by the band's manager, Don Arden, the two compromised and released the album as "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi" in January 1986. "It opened up a whole can of worms really," Iommi explained, "because I think if we could have done it as a solo album, it would have been accepted a lot more." Seventh Star, which sounded little like a Black Sabbath album, incorporated more hard rock elements popularised by the 1980s Sunset Strip hard rock scene, and was panned by the critics of the era, although later reviewers such as Allmusic gave the album favourable reviews, calling the album "often misunderstood and underrated".

The new line-up rehearsed for six weeks preparing for a full world tour, although the band were eventually forced to use the Black Sabbath name. "I was into the 'Tony Iommi project', but I wasn't into the Black Sabbath moniker," Hughes said. "The idea of being in Black Sabbath didn't appeal to me whatsoever. Glenn Hughes singing in Black Sabbath is like James Brown singing in Metallica. It wasn't gonna work". Just four days before the start of the tour, vocalist Glenn Hughes got into a bar fight with the band's production manager John Downing which splintered the singer's orbital bone. The injury interfered with Hughes' ability to sing, and the band brought in vocalist Ray Gillen to continue the tour with W.A.S.P. and Anthrax, although nearly half of the US dates would eventually be cancelled because of poor ticket sales.

One vocalist whose status is disputed, both inside and outside Black Sabbath, is Christian evangelist and former Joshua frontman, Jeff Fenholt. Fenholt has insisted that he was a singer in Black Sabbath between January and May 1985. Tony Iommi has never confirmed this. Fenholt gives a detailed account of his time with Iommi and Sabbath in Garry Sharpe-Young's book Sabbath Bloody Sabbath: The Battle for Black Sabbath.

1986–1990: The Eternal IdolHeadless Cross and Tyr 

Black Sabbath began work on new material in October 1986 at Air Studios in Montserrat with producer Jeff Glixman. The recording was fraught with problems from the beginning, as Glixman left after the initial sessions to be replaced by producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven. Bassist Dave Spitz quit over "personal issues", and ex-Rainbow and Ozzy Osbourne bassist Bob Daisley was brought in. Daisley re-recorded all of the bass tracks, and wrote the album's lyrics, but before the album was complete, he left to join Gary Moore's backing band, taking drummer Eric Singer with him. After problems with second producer Coppersmith-Heaven, the band returned to Morgan Studios in England in January 1987 to work with new producer Chris Tsangarides. While working in the UK, new vocalist Ray Gillen abruptly left Black Sabbath to form Blue Murder with John Sykes. The band enlisted ex-Alliance vocalist Tony Martin to re-record Gillen's tracks, and former Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan to complete a few percussion overdubs. Before the release of the new album Black Sabbath accepted an offer to play six shows at Sun City, South Africa during the apartheid era. The band drew criticism from activists and artists involved with Artists United Against Apartheid, who had been boycotting South Africa since 1985. Drummer Bev Bevan refused to play the shows, and was replaced by Terry Chimes, formerly of the Clash.

After nearly a year in production, The Eternal Idol was released on 8 December 1987 and ignored by contemporary reviewers. On-line internet era reviews were mixed. AllMusic said that "Martin's powerful voice added new fire" to the band, and the album contained "some of Iommi's heaviest riffs in years." Blender gave the album two stars, claiming the album was "Black Sabbath in name only". The album would stall at No. 66 in the UK, while peaking at 168 in the US. The band toured in support of Eternal Idol in Germany, Italy and for the first time, Greece. Unfortunately, in part because of a backlash from promoters over the South Africa incident, other European shows were cancelled. Bassist Dave Spitz left the band shortly before the tour, and was replaced by Jo Burt, formerly of Virginia Wolf.

Following the poor commercial performance of The Eternal Idol, Black Sabbath were dropped by both Vertigo Records and Warner Bros. Records, and signed with I.R.S. Records. The band took time off in 1988, returning in August to begin work on their next album. As a result of the recording troubles with Eternal Idol, Tony Iommi opted to produce the band's next album himself. "It was a completely new start", Iommi said. "I had to rethink the whole thing, and decided that we needed to build up some credibility again". Iommi enlisted ex-Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell, long-time keyboardist Nicholls and session bassist Laurence Cottle, and rented a "very cheap studio in England".

Black Sabbath released Headless Cross in April 1989, and it was also ignored by contemporary reviewers, although Allmusic contributor Eduardo Rivadavia gave the album four stars and called it "the finest non-Ozzy or Dio Black Sabbath album". Anchored by the number 62 charting single "Headless Cross", the album reached number 31 on the UK charts, and number 115 in the US. Queen guitarist Brian May, a good friend of Iommi's, played a guest solo on the song "When Death Calls". Following the album's release the band added touring bassist Neil Murray, formerly of Whitesnake, Gary Moore's backing band, and Vow Wow.

The unsuccessful Headless Cross US tour began in May 1989 with openers Kingdom Come and Silent Rage, but because of poor ticket sales, the tour was cancelled after just eight shows. The European leg of the tour began in September, where the band were enjoying chart success. After a string of Japanese shows the band embarked on a 23 date Russian tour with Girlschool. Black Sabbath was one of the first bands to tour Russia, after Mikhail Gorbachev opened the country to western acts for the first time in 1989.

The band returned to the studio in February 1990 to record Tyr, the follow-up to Headless Cross. While not technically a concept album, some of the album's lyrical themes are loosely based on Norse mythology. Tyr was released on 6 August 1990, reaching number 24 on the UK albums chart, but was the first Black Sabbath release not to break the Billboard 200 in the US. The album would receive mixed internet-era reviews, with Allmusic noting that the band "mix myth with metal in a crushing display of musical synthesis", while Blender gave the album just one star, claiming that "Iommi continues to besmirch the Sabbath name with this unremarkable collection". The band toured in support of Tyr with Circus of Power in Europe, but the final seven UK dates were cancelled because of poor ticket sales. For the first time in their career, the band's touring cycle did not include US dates.

1990–1992: Dehumanizer 

While on his own Lock Up the Wolves US tour in August 1990, former Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio was joined on stage at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium by former Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler to perform "Neon Knights". Following the show, the two expressed interest in rejoining Black Sabbath. Butler convinced Iommi, who in turn broke up the current line-up, dismissing vocalist Tony Martin and bassist Neil Murray. "I do regret that in a lot of ways", Iommi said. "We were at a good point then. We decided to [reunite with Dio] and I don't even know why, really. There's the financial aspect, but that wasn't it. I seemed to think maybe we could recapture something we had".

Ronnie James Dio and Geezer Butler joined Tony Iommi and Cozy Powell in autumn of 1990 to begin working on the next Black Sabbath release. While rehearsing in November, Powell suffered a broken hip when his horse died, falling on the drummer's legs. Unable to complete work on the album, Powell was replaced by former drummer Vinny Appice, reuniting the Mob Rules era line-up, and the band entered the studio with producer Reinhold Mack. The year-long recording process was plagued with problems, primarily stemming from writing tension between Iommi and Dio. Some songs were re-written multiple times. "Dehumanizer took a long time, it was just hard work", Iommi said. "We took too long on it, that album cost us a million dollars, which is bloody ridiculous". Dio later recalled the album as difficult, but worth the effort. "It was something we had to really wring out of ourselves, but I think that's why it works", he said. "Sometimes you need that kind of tension, or else you end up making the Christmas album".

The resulting album, Dehumanizer was released on 22 June 1992. In the US, the album was released on 30 June 1992 by Reprise Records, as Ronnie James Dio and his namesake band were still under contract with the label at the time. While the album received mixed reviews, it was the band's biggest commercial success in a decade. Anchored by the top 40 rock radio single "TV Crimes", the album peaked at number 44 on the Billboard 200. The album also featured the song "Time Machine", a version of which had been recorded for the 1992 film Wayne's World. Additionally, the perception by many fans of a return of some semblance of the "real" Black Sabbath provided the band with some much needed momentum.

Black Sabbath began touring in support of Dehumanizer in July 1992 with Testament, Danzig, Prong, and Exodus. While on tour, former vocalist Ozzy Osbourne announced his first retirement, and invited Black Sabbath to open for his solo band at the final two shows of his No More Tours tour in Costa Mesa, California. The band agreed, aside from vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who told Iommi in no uncertain terms "I'm not doing that. I'm not supporting a clown." Dio spoke of the situation in an interview years later:

I was told in the middle of the tour that we would be opening for Ozzy in Los Angeles. And I said, "No. Sorry, I have more pride than that." A lot of bad things were being said from camp to camp, and it created this horrible schism. So by [the band] agreeing to play the shows in L.A. with Ozzy, that, to me, spelled out reunion. And that obviously meant the doom of that particular project.

Dio quit Black Sabbath following a show in Oakland, California on 13 November 1992, one night before the band were set to appear at Osbourne's retirement show. Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford stepped in at the last minute, performing two nights with the band. Iommi and Butler also joined Osbourne and former drummer Ward on stage for the first time since 1985's Live Aid concert, performing a brief set of Black Sabbath songs.

1993–1996: Cross Purposes and Forbidden 

Drummer Vinny Appice left the band following the reunion show to join Ronnie James Dio's solo band, later appearing on Dio's Strange Highways and Angry Machines. Iommi and Butler enlisted former Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli, and reinstated former vocalist Tony Martin. The band returned to the studio to work on new material, although the project was not originally intended to be released under the Black Sabbath name. As Geezer Butler explains:

It wasn't even supposed to be a Sabbath album; I wouldn't have even done it under the pretence of Sabbath. That was the time when the original band were talking about getting back together for a reunion tour. Tony and myself just went in with a couple of people, did an album just to have, while the reunion tour was (supposedly) going on. It was like an Iommi/Butler project album.

Under pressure from their record label, the band released their seventeenth studio album, Cross Purposes, on 8 February 1994, under the Black Sabbath name. The album received mixed reviews, with Blender giving the album two stars, calling Soundgarden's 1994 album Superunknown "a far better Sabbath album than this by-the-numbers potboiler". Allmusic's Bradley Torreano called Cross Purposes "the first album since Born Again that actually sounds like a real Sabbath record". The album just missed the Top 40 in the UK reaching number 41, and also reached 122 on the Billboard 200 in the US. Cross Purposes contained the song "Evil Eye", which was co-written by Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, although uncredited because of record label restrictions. Touring in support of Cross Purposes began in February with Morbid Angel and Motörhead in the US. The band filmed a live performance at the Hammersmith Apollo on 13 April 1994, which was released on VHS accompanied by a CD, titled Cross Purposes Live. After the European tour with Cathedral and Godspeed in June 1994, drummer Bobby Rondinelli quit the band and was replaced by original Black Sabbath drummer Ward for five shows in South America.

Following the touring cycle for Cross Purposes, bassist Geezer Butler quit the band for the second time. "I finally got totally disillusioned with the last Sabbath album, and I much preferred the stuff I was writing to the stuff Sabbath were doing". Butler formed a solo project called GZR, and released Plastic Planet in 1995. The album contained the song "Giving Up the Ghost", which was critical of Tony Iommi for carrying on with the Black Sabbath name, with the lyrics: You plagiarised and parodied / the magic of our meaning / a legend in your own mind / left all your friends behind / you can't admit that you're wrong / the spirit is dead and gone ("I heard it's something about me ..." said Iommi. "I had the album given to me a while back. I played it once, then somebody else had it, so I haven't really paid any attention to the lyrics ... It's nice to see him doing his own thing – getting things off his chest. I don't want to get into a rift with Geezer. He's still a friend."

Following Butler's departure, newly returned drummer Ward once again left the band. Iommi reinstated former members Neil Murray on bass and Cozy Powell on drums, effectively reuniting the Tyr line-up. The band enlisted Body Count guitarist Ernie C to produce the new album, which was recorded in London in autumn of 1994. The album featured a guest vocal on "Illusion of Power" by Body Count vocalist Ice-T. The resulting Forbidden was released on 8 June 1995, but failed to chart in the US or the UK. The album was widely panned by critics; Allmusic's Bradley Torreano said "with boring songs, awful production, and uninspired performances, this is easily avoidable for all but the most enthusiastic fan"; while Blender magazine called Forbidden "an embarrassment ... the band's worst album".

Black Sabbath embarked on a world tour in July 1995 with openers Motörhead and Tiamat, but two months into the tour, drummer Cozy Powell left the band, citing health issues, and was replaced by former drummer Bobby Rondinelli. "The members I had in the last lineup – Bobby Rondinelli, Neil Murray – they're great, great characters ..." Iommi told Sabbath fanzine Southern Cross. "That, for me, was an ideal lineup. I wasn't sure vocally what we should do, but Neil Murray and Bobby Rondinelli I really got on well with."

After completing Asian dates in December 1995, Tony Iommi put the band on hiatus, and began work on a solo album with former Black Sabbath vocalist Glenn Hughes, and former Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland. The album was not officially released following its completion, although a widely traded bootleg called Eighth Star surfaced soon after. The album was officially released in 2004 as The 1996 DEP Sessions, with Holland's drums re-recorded by session drummer Jimmy Copley.

In 1997, Tony Iommi disbanded the current line-up to officially reunite with Ozzy Osbourne and the original Black Sabbath line-up. Vocalist Tony Martin claimed that an original line-up reunion had been in the works since the band's brief reunion at Ozzy Osbourne's 1992 Costa Mesa show, and that the band released subsequent albums to fulfill their record contract with I.R.S. Records. Martin later recalled Forbidden as a "filler album that got the band out of the label deal, rid of the singer, and into the reunion. However I wasn't privy to that information at the time". I.R.S. Records released a compilation album in 1996 to fulfill the band's contract, titled The Sabbath Stones, which featured songs from Born Again to Forbidden.

 

Attribution

Black Sabbath - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sabbath http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/