In 1968 in Birmingham, U.K., Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne formed the band that would become internationally known as a pioneer of heavy metal. They called themselves Black Sabbath.
But according to the marketing materials accompanying an upcoming, “long-lost” album by a band called Jazz Sabbath, the British metal legends were nothing but plagiarizing frauds.
“Jazz Sabbath were considered by many to be at the forefront of the new jazz movement coming out of England at the time,” reads a statement by the band’s label. “The eagerly awaited debut album … was destined never to be released. Until now.”
The story goes that the album was scheduled to be released in 1970, but it was shelved when founding member and pianist Milton Keanes was hospitalized with a heart attack. When Keanes was released from the hospital, “he found out that a band from Birmingham, conveniently called Black Sabbath, had since released two albums containing metal versions of what he claims were his songs.”
Now, “after 50 years,” the tapes will finally be heard.
“The album will prove that the heavy-metal band worshipped by millions around the world are in fact nothing more than musical charlatans, thieving the music from a bedridden, hospitalized genius.”
At this point it should be noted that “Milton Keanes” is actually Adam Wakeman, the longtime guitarist and keyboard player for Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne’s band.
It’s a nice bit of storytelling, but it’s safe to say that Iommi and friends did not steal the riffs to early metal classics like Fairies Wear Boots, Iron Man and Children of the Grave from an obscure English jazz group.
That said, Black Sabbath’s music does translate surprisingly well to jazz. You can listen to the new take on Iron Man right now.
Meanwhile, the link between Black Sabbath’s doom-and-gloom heavy metal and the jazz roots in their playing is well-documented.
The Jazz Sabbath release is accompanied by a mockumentary about Jazz Sabbath, which features interviews with members of Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Faith No More, the Ramones and Yes.
The full album will be released on April 10, and Jazz Sabbath will be supporting it with a tour later in 2020.