As one of the founding bands of heavy metal music, Black Sabbath had a tremendous influence on the nascent genre in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was the band's most prolific era, with commercially successful albums like Paranoid and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. After Ozzy Osbourne was fired in 1979, Sabbath's overall work was more critically mixed and its membership was ever-changing. The band is now mostly back to its original lineup and is going on tour. It is an opportune time to get Black Sabbath tickets, lest the lineup breakup again.
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Though now known as one of pioneers of heavy metal music, Black Sabbath's origins come from the blues rock trend popular in the late 1960s. The group, originally known as The Polka Tulk Blues Band, was formed in 1968 by guitarist Tommy Iommi and drummer Bill Ward, who quickly recruited bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. The band quickly changed the name to Earth and began recording and touring. A year later, it was discovered that another band used the same name, and it was decided to change it again. Taking inspiration from the Boris Karloff film Black Sabbath, and pleased by the darker sound of the new song they were recording at the time, they changed its name to Black Sabbath.
With a new name and a new sound, the band pressed forward with recording its self-titled debut album. However, the prevailing tastes of the time led to the album, released in February 1970, to be panned by critics. However, the album sold well, and later reviews were more positive. Heartened by the record's success, the band began recording its second album, Paranoid. Much like its first album, it received negative reviews at the time, but was a blockbuster hit, and is now recognized as one of the albums most instrumental in defining heavy metal. It helped make them popular in the United States, and following the album's release, the band toured there for the first time.
Black Sabbath's next two albums, Master of Reality and Black Sabbath: Vol. 4, largely followed the same pattern of critical panning but commercial success. However, by the time they began recording Volume 4, substance abuse was starting to become a problem within the band, which caused issues in the record's recording process, as well as that of the next album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. At the time, though, it didn't affect the end product, and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath became the band's first critically acclaimed album.
The band's sixth album, Sabotage, departed from the sound of the previous album. It was released in 1975 to positive reviews. Its next album, Technical Ecstasy, continued the trend, and was the first to receive more negative reviews, following the previous string of critically acclaimed albums. Technical Ecstasy marked the beginning of the constant upheaval that would come to be a characteristic of Black Sabbath going forward. The tour to support the album, featuring Boston and Ted Nugent was successful, but things started unraveling when it came time to record the next album. Disappointed with the previous two releases, Osbourne left Black Sabbath to start his own band, but quickly returned. Continued substance abuse led Never Say Die! to take a long time to record, and when released it faced negative reviews, as did the subsequent tour. The problems continued during recording for the next album, and came to a head in 1979 when Iommi fired Osbourne.
The band continued on, recruiting Ronnie James Dio to replace Osbourne. The new era of Black Sabbath initially went well. The first album with Dio, Heaven and Hell, earned acclaim from critics, as well as being the most commercially successful album since Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Black Sabbath's tenth album, Mob Rules, despite the departure of Ward in 1980, was also successful with fans, though less so with critics. However, a misunderstanding between Dio and Iommi and Butler during the recording of the band's first official live album, Live Evil, led to Dio leaving the band in 1982, along with Vinny Appice, who had replaced Ward.
Now down to two members, Iommi and Butler began looking for another new vocalist, eventually choosing Ian Gillan, formerly of Deep Purple; drummer Bill Ward also returned. The new lineup's first album, entitled Born Again, was not meant to be under the Black Sabbath moniker, until label pressure forced it. Born Again was released in 1984 to a very negative reception, primarily due to the change in style from previous works. Ward left again in 1983, and was replaced by Bev Bevan. However, the lineup would not last long as Gillan and Bevan left in early 1984, and Geezer Butler left later that year.
Now down to only Iommi, Black Sabbath went on hiatus while Iommi worked on a solo album, but he briefly reunited with the other orignial members for the 1985 Live Aid benefit concert. After returning to work on the solo album, Iommi recruited Glenn Hughes to record a track, but Hughes ended up being used for the entire album. Despite the very different nature of the work, Seventh Star was forced by the label to be released as a Black Sabbath album, and the label insisted that the band use the Black Sabbath name for the supporting tour, which was partially cancelled due to poor ticket sales.
The period featuring the band's next three albums proved to be one of commercial and critical disappointment, as well as one with a continually revolving lineup. Notably this era featured former Alliance vocalist Tony Martin, as well as ex-Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell. However, the albums, The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross and, Tyr, were largely panned by critics and sold poorly or only moderately well.
The band's fortunes briefly changed for its 16th album, Dehumanizer. Ronnie James Dio and Geezer Butler rejoined the band after convincing Iommi, and the newly reconstituted lineup got to work on the album. When released in 1992, it received mixed reviews, but was the most successful record since Mob Rules in 1981. However, the arrangement was not to last long. After hearing that Black Sabbath would open for Ozzy Osbourne at a Los Angeles show in late 1992 with former drummer Ward, Dio quit the band. Iommi rehired vocalist Tony Martin and the band got to work on the next album, Cross Purposes. Once again, an album not originally designed to carry another name was released under the Black Sabbath name due to label pressure. Cross Purposes was released in early 1994 to mixed reviews. Following the release, and disappointed with the album, Butler quit Black Sabbath yet again, as did the newly rejoined Bill Ward. Iommi brought back Neil Murray and Cozy Powell, fully reinstating the third major lineup. In mid-1995, the band's 18th album, Forbidden was released, and this time was almost universally panned.
Following the release of Forbidden, the band was effectively inactive for almost seventeen years, except for reunions of the original lineup at Ozzfest in 1997, 2004, and 2005, and a 1998 live album by the lineup, entitled Reunion. There were attempts to write a new album in 2001, but they fell apart. Additionally, Iommi and Dio reunited the Heaven and Hell lineup as a band of the same name from 2006-2010. In 2011, the reunited Iommi/Osbourne/Butler lineup of the band finally announced plans for a new tour and album. The album, 13, was released in June 2013.