And Finally Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #76: Black Sabbath v The Birmingham Mail

By | Published on Friday 19 August 2011

Black Sabbath

Reports began circulating earlier this week that Black Sabbath’s original line-up – Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward – had reunited to record a new studio album and to tour.

This is nothing new, really. These rumours, as for most aging bands whose members are still active in music, circulate from time to time, though for Sabbath they have picked up since the death of Ronnie James Dio last year. Dio’s departure brought about the end of Heaven & Hell, a band consisting of the band’s 1981 line-up, featuring Dio, Iommi, Butler and drummer Vinnie Appice.

Earlier this year, after Butler said in an interview on Californian radio station 95.5 KLOS that all four original members were “talking” and “friends”, rumours of a reunion blew up so much that he took to his website to issue a statement, saying: “I would like to make it clear, because of mounting speculation and rumours, that there will be definitely NO reunion of all four original members of Black Sabbath, whether to record an album or to tour”.

So, there you go. But then this week the rumour pops up again, this time on Soon afterwards, the Birmingham Mail had a quote from Iommi confirming it all. It did indeed look like it was happening.

Iommi was quoted as saying: “We’re really looking forward to it and I think the stuff we’ve been writing is really good. It’s more back to the old original stuff. It’s all been very hush-hush. Ozzy’s been the worst at trying to hold it back. He’s doing a lot of TV and he’s being asked stuff about a reunion and he’s going: ‘Well, I never say never’. He told me: ‘I don’t know what to say'”.

That does sound like they’re working on a new album and preparing for a tour. But then Iommi, like Butler before him, issued a statement via his own website, which said: “I’m saddened that a Birmingham journalist whom I trusted has chosen this point in time to take a conversation we had back in June and make it sound like we spoke yesterday about a Black Sabbath reunion. At the time I was supporting the Home Of Metal exhibition and was merely speculating, shooting the breeze, on something all of us get asked constantly: ‘Are you getting back together?'”

He continued: “Thanks to the internet, it’s gone round the world as some sort of ‘official’ statement on my part, absolute nonsense. I hope he’s enjoyed his moment of glory, he won’t have another at my expense. To my old pals, Ozzy, Geezer and Bill, sorry about this, I should have known better”.

He seems to be saying that, in fact, when he spoke to the Mail, he was role-playing a hypothetical situation in which the band were getting back together, but this was mere fantasy. Which is an odd thing to do.

I think we need a bit more clarification on the situation. How about something from Iommi’s manager Ralph Baker? He’ll surely clear everything up.

On Wednesday, Baker told The Birmingham Mail: “[Tony] was not saying that it wasn’t true. We haven’t got anything in place. He’s not denying that the guys have been talking but there’s nothing in the way that’s been implied in the statements that you made. He made them to you in June and he felt that he made them to you off the record. A very insignificant little website put something out about Sabbath getting back together and being in the Midlands. End of story”.

He added: “When you went online, that’s when it went around the world because [it appeared that] it was official. Tony’s website virtually crashed and it took off. That’s why Tony’s pissed off, because the story would have died a death. I don’t consider some dodgy little website a trigger [to publish]. It was picked up by everybody because a lot of these kids have nothing better to do than simply pick up a story from one site and run with it and see what happens”.

Hmm, that doesn’t really clear it up at all, does it? Oh well, we can definitely confirm that Black Sabbath either will or will not release a new album featuring the original line-up at some point. And they may or may not tour. Of course, you may or may not care.