50 Years Ago: Black Sabbath’s Debut Album is Released

Its been 50 years since the start of heavy metal. On this day in 1970 Black Sabbath released their debut self titled album.

The band originally went by the name Earth in its early days but changed it when they realized they weren’t the only band in England with the name. They took the name Black Sabbath from the Italian horror movie of the same name from 1963.

The idea to detune the guitars came when guitarist Tony Iommi cut the tips of two fingers off. Iommi used melted down plastic to create two fake fingertips and tuned down to make the strings on his guitar easier to play.

Black Sabbath was recorded in one single day in October of 1969 over the course of a 12 hour session. The album ended up being a great introduction to Sabbath’s sound and the line-up of Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward would become the classic Sabbath line-up that would last for basically the whole 1970s until Ozzy was fired.

The album kicks off with the title track, which has become one of the band’s trademark songs and probably the most influential song in the heavy metal genre. Black Sabbath has an atmosphere like no other. There are few songs that admittedly give me the creeps, but that song is one.

N.I.B, a song about the devil falling in love, and The Wizard, one of the many songs influenced by The Lord of the Rings books were two of the other songs that became two of Sabbath’s definitive songs.

One of the most memorable aspects of the album is the cover, which I’ve talked about on this site before. Its one of the scariest album covers ever. On top of it all the album was released on Friday the 13th. The album was a surprising success considering how heavy and different the album was compared to everything else at the time. They followed the debut up with Paranoid just a few months later, which came with more success.