The darkness around Black Sabbath was not just a horror-movie put-on to help the then-struggling Brummie rock band establish a USP in a busy late-’60s marketplace. As Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler admits in the latest MOJO magazine (in UK stores from Tuesday, December 20) there was some real anguish behind their tormented riffs and portentous lyrics.
For instance, there was more to the group’s trademark Paranoid – a Top 20 UK hit in 1970 – than initially met the ear.
“It was originally called ‘The Paranoid’,” says Butler. “The song was about myself. I was getting really down, and gloomy, and dark – and the doctor said, ‘Go down the pub and have a pint, you’ll be all right.’ I said, I’ve tried that. ‘Well, go and have two pints then.’ So I was really in despair when I wrote those lyrics. They were true feelings. Of course, Ozzy didn’t have a clue what ‘paranoid’ meant.”
As Black Sabbath play their last ever shows, the group’s three remaining original members convene for MOJO, taking the bonnet off their 10 Most Significant Songs and cover ground both serious and not-so.
There’s the time the group threw the Beach Boys’ Al Jardine out of their dressing room in LA (“We all hated The Beach Boys,” says Butler). And the furore caused at Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi’s wedding by legendary Led Zeppelin party animal John Bonham.
“Tony knew if he’d served champagne they’d have been stealing shit from him, punch-ups on the lawn… It was nuts.”
“One side of the church was all gakked up and the other side were all, ‘What’s wrong with them?’” recalls singer Ozzy Osbourne. “It was half a white wedding! Tony had married this high class woman, and at his house for the reception Bonham was like, ‘Ah (rubs hands together) here comes the champagne…’ It was apple juice! Bonham went, ‘FUCKING APPLE JUICE! WHAT KIND OF FUCKING WEDDING IS THIS?!’ Tony knew if he’d served champagne they’d have been stealing shit from him, punch-ups on the lawn… It was nuts.”
Meanwhile we learn of Sabbath’s little known impact on The Clash, while Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl weighs in with his assessment of Ozzy’s frontman factor and influence on his Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain.
“Kurt really liked Ozzy,” Grohl tells MOJO. “Growing up in a town like Aberdeen [WA] and hearing a band like Black Sabbath – it’s a sweet release. Suddenly there’s something outside your small-town world you can relate to.”
This month, MOJO’s FREE CD also gets heavy, as Volume 4 from our popular Heavy Nuggets stable delivers mindblowing tracks from Wolf People, Boris, Sleep and more, plus Charles Bradley’s immense cover of Black Sabbath’s Changes.
Also in the new issue: Sylvie Simmons (and Bono) hymn the greatness of Leonard Cohen; Aretha Franklin’s 1967 soul coronation; Steve Van Zandt remembers saving Paul Simon’s life; the sociopathic soundquake that was New York’s No Wave. Plus: Traffic; John Cale rebooting the Velvet Underground, Buzzcocks, Tony Bennett, The Go-Betweens, Michael Chapman, Leon Russell, The XX, Temple Of The Dog. And: our essential music tips for 2017!