Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath's Rocky Road

(Gibson) The news that Ozzy Osbourne has again reunited with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward as Black Sabbath is one of the biggest metal stories of the year. Bigger than Slipknot's return to the stage minus the late Paul Gray, bigger than Dream Theater's chart smash without Mike Portnoy heck, even bigger than Metallica and Lou Reed's Lulu collaboration. The metal pioneers are at work on an album of new material with megaproducer Rick Rubin, and are already booking dates in 2012.

But this is not the first time Iommi, Butler, Osbourne and Ward have patched up their differences to share the stage together, and Sabbath's various reunions, break-ups and re-reunions make for a pretty interesting story. In fact, Ozzy actually quit the band in 1977 after the album Technical Ecstasy and had begun working with a new band featuring ex-Dirty Tricks members John Frazer-Binnie, Terry Horbury and Andy Bierne. The new band were three days away from going into the studio to record an album when Ozzy got cold feet and decided he wanted to go back to Sabbath. The problem was, Sabbath had already hired a new singer, Dave Walker, and they'd begun working on new songs, too. They even performed "Junior's Eyes" on the TV show Look Hear in 1978. But the lads patched things up with Ozzy and recorded 1978's Never Say Die before ultimately parting ways during the drawn-out writing sessions for the planned follow-up.

It was six years before Iommi, Butler, Osbourne and Ward would play together again. This first reunion of Ozzy and Sabbath occurred during the Live Aid concert at the JFK Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1985. Introduced by comedian Chevy Chase and performing a short set consisting of "Children of the Grave," "Iron Man" and "Paranoid," it was obvious at even a quick glance at the footage that this show took place during the height of the glitzy '80s. Sabbath were never more studded and bedazzled. The Live Aid telecast made the sacrilegious error of spelling Ozzy's name "Ozzie." Although well received, it wasn't Sabbath's finest hour, musically. The tale continues here.

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Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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