Black Sabbath are one of the most influential bands of all time. Hard rocking to the core, their dark take on music helped create the multi-faceted genre we know today as metal. The oppressive sounding music was unlike anything anyone had ever heard at the dawn of the 1970s, and through drawing on lyrical themes such as sci-fi, the occult and the supernatural, they laid down some key blueprints of metal moving forward.
Sabbath knew their music was totally different, and this only spurred them on further. The original lineup of Black Sabbath is one of the most iconic in all of rock. Frontman Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward are all widely revered for their efforts in Sabbath. Each was a vital cog in the titanium machine, and together they injected rock with the necessary shot of adrenaline to carry it through the ’70s, effectively giving it a longer life span than many would have expected.
One key element of Sabbath’s classic lineup was camaraderie. In the early days, the band endured soaring highs and crushing lows, creating a bond that fuelled their output until 1975. On record and in live shows, the brotherhood shared between the four Brummies shone, giving their work the endurance to still be admired some 50 years later.
Notably, the band shared some rather odd experiences in the early days, and we don’t just mean those involving drugs and alcohol. During a recent interview with Metal Hammer, Ward recalled that the band all shared a strange dream during the early years and that it involved a haunting apparition visiting the band in their sleep.
A believer in the supernatural, Ward admitted: “I love ghosts – I’m a ghost person and have been most of my life.” Elsewhere, he also explained that he felt his guardian angel was visiting him.
The drummer expressed: “When we finished Black Sabbath rehearsals at the Aston community centre. I had feelings inside telling me a few things; we were different, and it didn’t matter if we became famous. I knew what we’d made would cause a few problems. But also earn us great affection. I’m so fucking proud of that.”
“Black Sabbath were so tight, we’d have the same dreams,” he remembered. “It happens when you’re in a room transferring things to each other musically all day, so we’d end up having similar dreams. One of the dreams we had was being visited by a priest, or a spectre, and I just saw that as a guardian angel.”
This wasn’t the only encounter with the spirit world that Black Sabbath experienced. As a teenager, Iommi endured a severe car crash. He revealed in his memoir, Iron Man, that “three angels” saved him and altered the course of his life. The guitarist said: “Seeing those three figures, it was so vivid. It made me think, Christ, I’ve been saved here. And saved for a purpose: to do something. Someone once suggested it was to invent heavy metal. What a great purpose. The angels must have said to each other: ‘Oops, that went wrong!'”
It seems as if the themes of Black Sabbath‘s music managed to permeate their subconscious, creating the shared dream, although it is unusual. As for the “three angels” that saved Iommi, surely a knock on the head played a part in their appearance. I wonder if any other metal bands have had experiences with the ghostly realm? We’d wager that there’s more than a few.