"My flared jeans fluttered as if I were standing outside in the wind," Alex Wilson remembers the effect of his first Black Sabbath concert in November 1969 in Dumfries, Scotland. After that his life would have changed, says the Brit, because he had never heard such heavy powerriffs before. The contemporary witnesses of Sabbath's first gigs in Germany report similar things. Although the jazz part of the group was still immense at that time and Tony Iommi unpacked the flute, it was his ominous guitar riffs that brought heavy metal to the provinces, be it Dumfries, Göppingen, Schorndorf or Schwäbisch Hall.
After a short intermezzo with Jethro Tull in December 1968 (including Tull's guest appearance at the Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus), Iommi had returned to Earth, as Sabbath was officially called until August 1969. When asked about the end of this episode, he answers succinctly: "I wanted to play with my buddies again". He would have been better off financially with the Tulls, who were already successful at the time. But Iommi was too attached to his buddies from Birmingham. They went through the hard school of miniclubs and bizarre venues together without earning much money. In West Germany, Earth quickly had a fixed port of call, the Star Club in Hamburg, which was a magnet for English bands. An engagement there, however, was not a piece of cake for the young formation, as they usually played two to three sets of about 45 minutes each for several days in a row. And the accommodation in the neighborhood was anything but luxurious. An experience that the Beatles had also made eight years earlier. After gigs in Hamburg in April and June, Earth returned in August, October and November as Black Sabbath.
The Songs Remain The Same
Whether at the last Deutschlandgig on 17 January 2017 in Cologne or at the concerts in Hamburg or Baden-Württemberg - a large part of the setlist was identical: "Paranoid", "Black Sabbath", "Hand Of Doom", "Fairies Wear Boots", "War Pigs", "Behind The Wall Of Sleep", "N.I.B.", "Rat Salad", everything was already there in 1969 and sometimes even a year earlier. All the more understandable that the visitors of the early Sabbath gigs were holding their breath. Despite heavy bands like the Jeff Beck Group, Cream or The Jimi Hendrix Experience, nobody had heard such an extreme sound before. "When we renamed ourselves and I came across the name Black Sabbath, it gave us another push in the heavy direction," remembers drummer Bill Ward, who had read the concise name on a movie poster. "That was the image we had always instinctively followed, but with the horror connection everything suddenly made more sense and our sound became more and more threatening
The musicians turned down the name Earth, because at the same time another band was leading it. "Our luck, because I think that was the missing piece to our sound." Ozzy often and gladly emphasizes that "Black Sabbath" was the first song that Black Sabbath had written as a band. "Which, of course, is not true," intervenes Butler. "It was the first track we wrote after the renaming, but the majority of the songs on the first two albums had been in our set for ages. In addition some cover versions."