The clashing of two icons is always a joyful moment for any music fan. When those icons happen to be heavy metal heavyweights, the clash rings out like an industrial jackhammer hitting the liberty bell. Such would have been the sound that rang around the world when Van Halen took on a classic track from Black Sabbath, had Eddie Van Halen and co. been anywhere close to reaching the major heights of fame that would follow in the 1980s. Instead, below, we’ve got a pre-fame Van Halen paying tribute to their heroes.
Of course, looking through the ream of heavy metal artists currently littering the times of musical history, almost every single one of them would attest to Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and the rest of Black Sabbath as foundational stones. However, for Van Halen, the adoration went a little further; in fact, Eddie Van Halen was so enamoured with the band he had toyed with the idea of naming the group Rat Salad after the Sabbath song.
Speaking with Guitar World in 2013, alongside Tony Iommi, Van Halen was quick to share his appreciation for the group: “We played just about every Black Sabbath song. I used to sing lead on every Black Sabbath song we did. Things like ‘Into the Void,’ ‘Paranoid,” and ‘Lord of This World.” Below, we have the moment the group took on ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ from a rare recording in 1976.
The track was released as part of Black Sabbath Vol. 4 and sees the group writing about starting a new life, leaving the difficulties behind and breaking free from their bad relationships. While it might be some of the band’s more introspective subject matter, it still pulsates with the pure and unbridled punch that defined Black Sabbath and would illustrate a path forward for Eddie Van Halen and co.
Van Halen had been touring the toilet circuit since 1972 and had quickly gained a reputation for being a brutal rock outfit. With the introduction of David Lee Roth some years later, the group’s prowess was growing before it really took off in the summer of 1977. The clip below accurately portrays the band just before their breakthrough and showcases how indebted they were to the heavy metal pioneers who had led the way.
Speaking with the rest of the band in 2012, Eddie Van Halen opened up about covering artists in the club: “In the club days, it was difficult to sound like other people. So I think it’s inherently in all of us, not necessarily in every musician. But like you (David Lee Roth), only sound just like you. When we used to play in clubs, we sound pretty silly playing some of that stuff — different. We [didn’t] sound like Black Sabbath playing. It didn’t sound anything like the record.”
We think they don’t do too bad a job in the rarely heard audio below as Van Halen takes on the Black Sabbath song ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’.