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They were formed in Birmingham England in 1968, it was guitarist Toni Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne known at the time as The Polka Tulk Blues Band. They decided to make a dark turn in 1969, and rename the band Black Sabbath. They distinguished themselves through occult themes and horror inspired lyrics, and down-tuned guitars. They signed to a label and their first single “Evil Woman” was released in January 1970.
A month later their debut album Black Sabbath was released. The band continued to define the genre with the Paranoid album also released in 1970. That was followed by Master of Reality in 1971. Critically they weren’t liked very much, but commercially they did very well. By 1973 with the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album the bands popularity grew and the critics were coming around.
Ozzy was obsessed with drugs and was fired in 1979, many personnel changes happened after that, with Toni Iommi being the only constant member throughout the band's history. Ronnie James Dio replaced Ozzy until 1993. After many changes and a few more albums, the original lineup of Black Sabbath reunited in 1997 for a live album called Reunion the following year.
The band then continued to tour occasionally until 2005. There was no further recording activity with the band until 2011 when they released their final album 13, all the original lineup was involved in that album other than Bill Ward. During their farewell tour, Black Sabbath played their final concert in their home city of Birmingham on February 4, 2017.
As of 2013 Black Sabbath have sold over 70 million albums worldwide. That ranks them as one of the most commercially successful Heavy Metal bands. MTV honored them as “Greatest Metal Band” of all time, they took 2nd place in VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. They were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. They have two Grammys for Best Metal Performance, and in 2019 they were presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
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