February 1970: Black Sabbath Debut with BLACK SABBATH

Sunday, February 14, 2021

When it came time for Black Sabbath to record the record that changed the face of rock music forever, they went about it like a bunch of guys shuffling off to work at a local Birmingham, England factory.

"We just went in the studio and did it in a day," Tony Iommi said back in a 2009 interview about Black Sabbath recording the band’s groundbreaking debut album. "We played our live set and that was it. We actually thought a whole day was quite a long time, then off we went the next day to play for twenty quid in Switzerland."

Back then, the group was just trying to make the most of precious studio time: "We thought, 'We have two days to do it and one of the days is mixing,'" Iomni recalled. "So we played live. Ozzy was singing at the same time, we just put him in a separate booth and off we went. We never had a second run of most of the stuff."

"The record cost us 800 quid. If you listen to side two, there's a couple of decent songs on it but the rest is like a f*cking jam session," he told Metal Hammer in 2017. "We recorded it in a room that was hardly bigger than a toilet. But we were naive; we thought: 'That's the way you make records.' We didn't know any better."

Over the course of that 12-hour session, the group churned out an instant classic. Relentless from the foreboding opening bell of "Black Sabbath" through the climatic bombast of "Warning," the foundational building block of heavy metal had been forged. Released on February 13, 1970, rock and roll would never be the same again.

"We were quite disheveled in terms of money, property, and prestige," drummer Bill Ward told Rolling Stone. "We didn't have anything. When I listen to our first album now, I can hear the purity of the oneness of leaving all earthly things aside to come together and create something. It's quite marvelous."

Not exactly a monster on the charts--Black Sabbath peaked at #23 on the Billboard 200 over the week of December 26, 1970--the album's enduring influence ranks it among the most important rock albums ever made.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Sabbath invented what we know as the start of true and pure heavy metal," Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford said to Rolling Stone. "Without them, the genre may never have come to be."