Why Black Sabbath Decided Not To Record A Blues Album

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It’s not difficult to identify bluesy influences in Black Sabbath’s music. It turns out that they once considered creating a full album specifically for the genre.

Then ongoing health problems caused their plans to change. That is just one of the numerous disclosures in bassist Geezer Butler’s new biography, Into the Void.

In 2014, Black Sabbath had just finished a tour when the concept first emerged. The band chose to continue touring despite the 2012 discovery of guitarist Tony Iommi’s cancer. The End tour that followed was “we thought we better put any recording on hold and fit one last tour in – while he was able,” Butler wrote.

In an interview with UCR, Butler provided further insight into this time period in addition to talking about previously unheard Black Sabbath compositions, memories of Eddie Van Halen, and Jack Bruce of Cream.

You describe in your book how there was discussion of recording a blues album following the trip in 2014. It probably never progressed past the idea stage.
No, as we weren’t sure what would happen to Tony. He was at the time seriously unwell. We simply thought,

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, so let’s just do the final Sabbath tour. If everybody is still alive after that, we’ll look at doing another album, but it really took it out of Tony. I just don’t know how he did it. When we were writing the 13 album, he was having chemotherapy and then coming back from the hospital and carrying on writing. Me and Ozzy [Osbourne] were going, “Tony, just have a rest!” He just wouldn’t do it. He refused to rest. He wouldn’t let it beat him. The final tour was originally going to be 100 gigs, and we were supposed to finish in Japan, but halfway through, Tony just said: “I can’t do 100.” We said, “Fair enough.” We were lucky to get 80 gigs on the final tour, you know, so we all understood. That was it. But as far as the blues album, I think that Tony’s still doing stuff in his studio. In fact, he emailed me last week and said, “Do you fancy doing some bass playing?” [Laughs] I went, “Maybe!” But no, there’s nothing in concrete. If something happens, it will happen – but I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

How much is there in the vaults from the later years that we haven’t heard? “Scary Dreams” from the early 2000s is one song that comes to mind.

“Well, if you haven’t heard them, then they’re not good enough to go on the record. I mean, “Scary Dreams,” you know, it wasn’t great. That was when we were trying to throw an album together, I think it was in 2001. It just wasn’t working. It just felt really forced. “Scary Dreams” is probably the best we came out with. I was so disinterested in it that I didn’t want to write the lyrics or anything. Geoff Nichols, the keyboard player, came out with the vocal line and the lyrics. [Laughs] That’s how disinterested everybody was. It was just too forced. We had about five or six songs and I didn’t really like them, but I just went along with it for Tony and Ozzy’s sake. We went to play them to Rick Rubin and I just thought, “God, these are really crap.” I think Tony and Ozzy might have liked them, but they just weren’t up to scratch. I didn’t think so. The four of us have to like something for it to be good. It can’t just be two of us, so that’s as far as it went.”

Looking at albums from the Sabbath catalog, 1992’s Dehumanizer is underrated. What are the memories that stay with you from that period?

“It was great to get back with Ronnie [James Dio] again. After all of the horrible things that happened between us, we’d sort of grown up a little bit by then. We were a little bit more mature and could talk about stuff. On that album, I was actually presenting stuff that I was writing to Tony and Ronnie, which I hadn’t really done before. I’d been doing my own stuff. I wrote lots and lots of solo stuff, but I had quite a lot of things written that I thought were suitable for the band. I felt more a part of the band, being able to bring my stuff that I was writing to them – whether or not they liked it. But quite a bit of it was used on the album, so I was really happy doing that album.”

The Album That Defined a Genre: “Paranoid”

“Paranoid,” Black Sabbath’s second studio album, solidified their position as pioneers of the rock album genre. Released in 1970, it featured iconic tracks such as the title track “Paranoid,” “Iron Man,” and “War Pigs.” These songs not only became anthems for a generation but also pushed the boundaries of what was possible within the rock framework. The album’s success cemented Black Sabbath’s status as trailblazers and laid the foundation for heavy metal as a genre.

The Impact on Music

Black Sabbath’s innovative approach to the blues album left an indelible mark on the music industry. Their fusion of blues, hard rock, and heavy metal elements inspired countless bands and artists who followed in their footsteps. From Metallica to Iron Maiden, the influence of Black Sabbath can be heard in the music of numerous iconic rock acts.

Evolution and Experimentation

As the ’70s progressed, Black Sabbath continued to evolve and experiment with their sound. Albums like “Master of Reality” (1971), “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” (1973), and “Sabotage” (1975) showcased their versatility and willingness to push the boundaries of their own musical identity. These albums incorporated diverse elements such as progressive rock, jazz, and even orchestral arrangements, demonstrating Black Sabbath’s artistic growth and ambition.

The Enduring Legacy

Black Sabbath’s impact on the music landscape extends far beyond the ’70s. Their influence can still be felt today, with bands and artists of various genres paying homage to their groundbreaking style. The band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 further solidified their status as one of the most influential groups of all time.


In conclusion, Black Sabbath’s pioneering spirit and their unique take on the blues album have forever changed the course of music history. Their ability to blend the raw emotion of the blues with the power and intensity of heavy metal set them apart from their peers and established a new standard for musical innovation. Black Sabbath’s legacy continues to inspire and captivate audiences, ensuring that their place in the annals of rock music is forever secure.


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