Unauthorized ‘rockography’ offers details of band’s career
“Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal” by Brian Aberback is a book for anyone who is interested in learning about the group of men that invented heavy metal. The book is “an unauthorized rockography” that introduces the original members of the band, how they invented a new genre of music and how they became superstars in the music industry. This book is unauthorized, meaning Aberback never asked the band if he could publish this book. He doesn’t try to hide this, as it is listed in several different parts of the book.
The four founding members of Black Sabbath are Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitarist), Bill Ward (drums) and Geezer Butler (bassist). The group originally formed under the name Polka Tulk Blues Band before undergoing two name changes, finally settling on an abbreviated form of an earlier name, Earth.
The author highlights a pivotal event that happened in the latter part of 1968 in which Iommi made a decision that could’ve ended the birth of heavy metal. Iommi decided to leave Earth and took residence with the progressive rock group Jethro Tull for a short time. He later said he wasn’t comfortable being in that band and decided it would be best if he returned to Earth, which returned what became Black Sabbath to its true form.
The author planted several interesting bits of information throughout the book. He mentions the band decided on the name “Black Sabbath” after seeing a film of the same name that featured Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein character. This is when Osbourne and his bandmates had a revelation that triggered the heavy metal movement. “[I]sn’t it funny that people like to go and pay money to be scared, to see a horror film,” Osbourne said. “Why don’t we try and put that to some of this heavy stuff we’re playing?”
I don’t want to give away too much of the book, especially if you aren’t well-versed in all things Sabbath, but there are some dramatic moments – internal conflict, drug use and difficulties of incorporating new members into later forms of the band. But the design of the book’s cover may deter fans from picking it up, since the art does not disguise the fact that it is heavily photoshopped.
One pro is that the author included a timeline as an appendix to the core material. It starts at 1948 with the birth of three band members and goes through 2010, when second-generation vocalist Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer at the age of 67. Also included are lists of every band member, the group’s discography and a list of tours embarked on during Sabbath’s career.
Even if you’re not looking for a story about the origins of heavy metal, this is a book that chronicles the trials and tribulations of men who came from English working-class families and went on to achieve worldwide fame. Black Sabbath created a genre of music the came to define the lives of millions and influenced several later generations of musicians.