Often called the pioneers of heavy metal music, Black Sabbath was a British rock band from Birmingham, England. The band had Ozzy Osbourne as the vocalist and Tony Iommi as the guitarist. Geezer Butler was the band’s bassist and Bill Ward played the drums. Formed in 1968, they tried the names Polka Tulk Blues and Earth before adopting the name Black Sabbath.
They created a distinct identity through their themes of occult and horror. This was made apparent in their down-tuned guitars and lyrics. Black Sabbath played an important role in defining the heavy metal genre with some immensely successful albums. Some of them were Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality.
Band Members of Black Sabbath
1. Ozzy Osbourne
He was the lead vocalist and had adopted the nickname ‘Prince of Darkness’. Born John Michael Osbourne on the 3rd of December 1948, he was called ‘Ozzy’ since his school days. When Geezer Butler formed his first band called ‘Rare Breed’ in 1967, he recruited Osbourne as the vocalist.
The band broke up after playing two shows. They came together along with Tony Iommi and Bill Ward to form Black Sabbath the following year. He was fired from Black Sabbath owing to his drug and alcohol problems in 1979. Later, he went on to have a successful career as a solo artist, songwriter, and television personality.
2. Tony Iommi
Born Anthony Frank Iommi, he was the co-founder and lead guitarist of Black Sabbath. He was also the band’s primary composer and the only continuous member for almost five decades. As a teenager, he had lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers of his right hand.
This happened due to an accident when he was working in a factory. Before forming Black Sabbath, he played in many blues and rock bands. It was after the formation of Black Sabbath that he rose to prominence.
He had detuned his guitar by the 1971 album ‘Master of Reality’. By lowering string tension he avoided causing pain to his fingertips. To match him, the band’s bassist Geezer Butler did the same. The band was among the first ones to detune and this technique became heavy metal’s mainstay.
3. Geezer Butler
He was the primary lyricist and bassist of Black Sabbath. Born Terence Michael Joseph Butler on the 17th of July 1949, he got the nickname ‘Geezer’ at school. Before Black Sabbath happened, he had formed the band ‘Rare Breed’ with Ozzy Osbourne as its lead vocalist.
It soon broke up, but they got together along with Tony Iommi and Bill Ward to form Black Sabbath. He played rhythm guitar during his days with Rare Breed, but moved on to bass later on. He is currently the bassist for a British-American hard rock band called ‘Deadland Ritual’.
4. Bill Ward
He was the drummer of Black Sabbath and also performed lead vocals on two of their songs. They were It’s Alright and Swinging the Chain. Born William Thomas Ward on the 5th of May 1948, he started playing drums as a child. At the time, he was greatly influenced by the jazz drummers Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Louie Bellson. He and Tony Iommi played in a band called ‘Mythology’ before the forming of Black Sabbath.
He left and joined the band several times. Throughout the band’s heyday, his drug and alcohol use had increased considerably. Today, he follows a healthy lifestyle after he adopted a vegan diet and gave up smoking, alcohol and drugs.