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Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (L'Olympia, Paris 1970)

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Black Sabbath on Wikipedia
"Black Sabbath"
Song by Black Sabbath from the album Black Sabbath
ReleasedFebruary 13, 1970
June 1, 1970
RecordedJuly 1969 (demo version)
November 1969 (studio version)
GenreHeavy metal, doom metal[1]
Warner Bros.
WriterOzzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward
ProducerRodger Bain
Black Sabbath track listing

"Black Sabbath" is a song by British heavy metal band of the same name, written in 1969 and released on the band's debut album, Black Sabbath. In 1970, it was released as a four-track 12" single, with "The Wizard" also on the A-side and "Evil Woman" and "Sleeping Village" on B-side, on the Philips Records label Vertigo.


According to the band, the song was inspired by an experience that Geezer Butler had related to Ozzy Osbourne. In the days of Earth, Geezer Butler painted his apartment matte black, placed several inverted crucifixes, and put many pictures of Satan on the walls. Osbourne gave Butler a book about witchcraft. He read the book and placed the book on a shelf beside his bed before going to sleep. When he woke up, he claims he saw a large black figure standing at the end of his bed. The figure disappeared and Butler went to get the book, and it was gone.[2]

A version of this song from Black Sabbath's first demo exists on the Ozzy Osbourne compilation album The Ozzman Cometh.[3] The song has an extra verse with additional vocals before the bridge.[4]

It's one of the band's most frequently performed tracks, being featured on every single tour of their career.


The main riff is constructed with a harmonic progression including a diminished fifth.[5] This particular interval is often known as diabolus in musica,[6] for it has musical qualities which are often used to suggest Satanic connotations in Western music.[6][7][8] The song "Black Sabbath" was one of the earliest examples in heavy metal to make use of this interval,[6] and since then, the genre has made extensive use of diabolus in musica.[6][9] It was also loosely inspired by "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets. [10]

Cover versions

"Black Sabbath" has been covered by the following bands:

  • Flower Travellin' Band in 1970, on their album Anywhere.[11]
  • The Throwaways in 1993, on their album Postmadonna Primadonna.
  • Type O Negative in 1994, for the Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black.[12]
  • Vader in 1994, on their albums Sothis[13] and Future of the Past.[14]
  • LA Guns in 1996, on their album American Hardcore (bonus track on Japan release).
  • Iced Earth in 2002, on their album Tribute to the Gods.[15]
  • Van Helsing's Curse in 2004, on their album Oculus Infernum.[16]


  • Ice-T has sampled "Black Sabbath" twice: on 1989's "Shut Up, Be Happy" from the album The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say and 1991's "Midnight" from the album O.G. Original Gangster.[17]
  • Breakcore artist Venetian Snares heavily sampled the vocals and guitar on his dubstep EP Sabbath Dubs.


  1. ^ "Black Sabbath". The BNR Metal Pages. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Osbourne, Ozzy (2010). I Am Ozzy. 
  3. ^ "Overview The Ozzman Cometh". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Black Sabbath". Black Sabbath Online. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Chesna, James (26 February 2010). "'Sleeping (In the Fire)': Listening Room fearless leader faces down fear". WJRT-TV/DT. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d Marshall, Wolf. "Power Lord—Climbing Chords, Evil Tritones, Giant Callouses". Guitar Legends, April 1997, p. 2
  7. ^ Cooke Deryck, The Language of Music, chapter 2 "The Elements of Musical Expression- the Augmented Fourth". Oxford University Press, Oxford New-York, 1959, Reimpression 2001, p. 84.
  8. ^ Sadie, Stanley (1980). "Tritone" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1st ed.). MacMillan, pp.154-155 ISBN 0-333-23111-2.
  9. ^ Dunn, Sam (2005). "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey". Warner Home Video (2006).
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Overview Anywhere". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "Overview Nativity in Black". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Overview Sothis". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "Overview Future of the Past". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "Overview Tribute to the Gods". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Overview Oculus Infernum". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  17. ^ " Rap Sample FAQ: Ice-T". Retrieved 1 July 2009. 

External links

  • Allmusic review of the song

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