Vilified by the press, revered by their fans, Black
Sabbath remains one of the most influential bands in
modern music. I had been a fan of the band for ages, but
it occurred to me that I knew very little of the history
of the band, and its members, aside from Ozzy Osbourne's
well-documented television antics and Tony Iommi's
legendary refusal to talk to the press. The author, Mick
Wall is a former journalist who formed his own PR firm
where he handled press campaigns for Black Sabbath for
several years and remained on friendly terms with band
members for decades, which is reflected in the quotes; we
can almost hear the musicians' voices.
BLACK SABBATH: SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE is an extremely
well-written account of the rise and fall of the band, as
well as the numerous line-up changes. The tone is at the
same time literary and conversational, and I am impressed
at how well the author translates the sound, the mood,
the rhythm, of Black Sabbath's music into words. Mr. Wall
captures the essence of the music scene over the decades,
and most importantly of the band.
BLACK SABBATH: SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE is divided
following the turning points of the band's career: the
first part being the Ozzy years, the second part when the
dizzying line-up changes began when Ozzy left for a solo
career, and Ronnie James Dio joined the band and gave
Black Sabbath a much needed boost. I found Randy Rhoads'
story, the extraordinary guitarist in Ozzy's band,
particularly fascinating. BLACK SABBATH: SYMPTOM OF THE
UNIVERSE is also very informative as regards Sharon
Osbourne's involvement with the band as well as with
Ozzy, both professionally and personally; she is not the
oft maligned interloper she has sometimes been made to
Biographies can often be dry reads, but it is decidedly
not the case with BLACK SABBATH: SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE:
with rock bands, we expect the ubiquitous sex and
groupies, the author does not dwell on peccadilloes but
the mind-boggling amount of drugs did have an influence
on the band's failures. BLACK SABBATH: SYMPTOM OF THE
UNIVERSE is a riveting read: unvarnished, and
unembellished; Mr. Wall praises the band when warranted,
but does he make excuses for the various epic disasters.
Neither does he shine the spotlight on one or two band
members: BLACK SABBATH: SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE is truly
a look at a band and all its members. As Mr. Wall himself
points out he is a fan, but neither is he blind to the
musicians' shortcomings and does not shy away from the
truth, which is not always pretty, but is the mark of an
honest biography. Also included are a useful and
comprehensive index, a bibliography, and several
photographs, not the ones we usually see, of the
musicians through the years.
BLACK SABBATH: SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE is one of the best
biographies I have ever read, regardless of the topic.
Fans will rejoice, as light is shed on some events, which
had been the fodder of entertainment gossip for years. A
most fascinating and riveting book!
Decades before reality television was invented, Ozzy
Osbourne was subversive and dark. Ozzy was the singer in
Black Sabbath, and they meant business. In an era when
were measured by how 'heavy' they were,no one was
than Black Sabbath. All four founding members of the
original Black Sabbath grew up within half-a-mile of each
other in a tiny Birmingham suburb.
Though all shared a deep love of music--The Beatles for
Ozzy, the Mothers of Invention for Geezer, the Shadows and
Chet Atkins for Iommi, and Gene Kruppa for Ward— they
their group "as the quickest way out of the slums." This
the story of how they made that dream come true--and how
then turned into a nightmare for all of them.
At the height of their fame, Sabbath discovered they'd
so badly ripped off by their managers they didn't even own
their own songs. They looked for salvation from Don Arden—
even more notorious gangster figure, who resurrected their
career but still left them indebted to him, financially
personally. It finally came to a head when in 1979 they
sacked Ozzy: "For being too out of control--even for us,"
Bill Ward put it. The next fifteen years were a war
the post-Ozzy Sabbath and Ozzy himself, whose solo career
overshadowed Sabbath so much that a reunion was entirely
his terms. Or rather, those of his wife and manager—to add
further bitter twist for Sabbath, daughter of Don Arden