Core members of Black Sabbath in 2013 (left to right): bassist Geezer Butler, singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi. Photo: RollingStone.com
HEAVY METAL ‘PRINCE OF DARKNESS’ MEETS THE BIBLE
AN OZZY OSBOURNE QUIZ …
By David Buckna, guest blogger
On June 16, 2013, reunited heavy metal veterans Black Sabbath achieved their first No. 1 album in the UK in almost 43 years – with a recording entitled 13, produced by seven-time Grammy Award-winning producer Rick Rubin. The band last took the top spot in 1970, with Paranoid.
Wikipedia offers the following capsule description: “Originally formed in 1968 as a heavy blues rock band named Earth, the band began incorporating occult themes with horror-inspired lyrics and tuned-down guitars. Despite an association with occult and horror themes, Black Sabbath also composed songs dealing with social instability, political corruption, the dangers of drug abuse and apocalyptic prophecies of the horrors of war.”
What may come as a surprise to many music fans is the affirmation of belief in the God of the Bible in some of the group’s lyrics. Band members have made ambiguous statements on the subject. In June, frontman Ozzy Osbourne told The Guardian: “I’ve done a good job of trying to kill myself for 64 years. But something’s kept me alive. I don’t know if it’s God, fate or whatever. I’m open-minded. But I don’t believe in organized religion at all.” However, in the liner notes of 13, he is more explicit: “To all the Black Sabbath fans who have always shown us their undying support. Thank you for everything you’ve brought to my life. God bless you all … Ozzy.”
Below, you can test your knowledge of some of the biblical connections to Ozzy, his family, and Sabbath’s music with this 13-question quiz. But first, take a look at what all the musical fuss is about:
God is Dead?
The making and burning of 13
1. According to Ozzy, what kind of black magic did the band have?
2. Who suggested the name Black Sabbath after seeing an ad for a horror film starring Boris Karloff?
3. What harsh anti-war song on Black Sabbath’s 1970 album, Paranoid, refers to the judgment of God?
4. On the band’s 1971 album, Master of Reality, Ozzy sings: “Could it be you’re afraid of what your friends might say / If they knew you believe in God above? / They should realize before they criticize / That God is the only way to love.” Name the song.
5. A huge painting of two biblical cities hangs in the Osbournes’ Beverly Hills mansion. Name the cities.
6. What song did Ozzy sing on Rick Wakeman’s 1999 concept album, Return to the Centre of the Earth?
7. When Ozzy’s daughter Kelly was asked in 2002 to name her favorite recent film, she replied: “This is really sad and kind of embarrassing, but I saw that Mandy Moore film, and I cried four times.” Name the film.
8. At Washington’s National Press Club (May 13, 2002), who said The Osbournes show affirms family values, once you “get beyond the dysfunctional aspects” – George W. Bush, James Dobson or Dan Quayle?
9. Ozzy on spouse Sharon: “Whoever said women are the weaker sex never met my wife. She never stops. She’s an absolute completely lunatic workaholic. I say to her, ‘Even God had a day off.’ But I love her madly.” Why does the Bible say God created woman?
10. What singer reprised Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train’ for The Osbournes’ Family Album, released in June 2002?
11. What words of Jesus are printed on a bookmark given to Ozzy by his mother?
12. In the 2012 documentary, God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, who does Ozzy say is the first person you should learn to love?
13. What was the first single from 13, Black Sabbath’s 2013 album?
1. “We never practiced … black magic; the only black magic we had was chocolates.” – Ozzy Osbourne (Spinner, June 18, 2010)
In 1969, a group of Satanists asked Black Sabbath to play at their ‘Night of Satan’ at Stonehenge. The band refused, only to hear that the Satanists then placed a hex on them. Ozzy asked his father to make an aluminum cross for each band member, and then had the crosses blessed.
According to The Complete Ozzy Osbourne FAQ, band members “wore these crosses 24 hours a day for protection. The cross remains a well known Black Sabbath symbol even to this day. You see, Black Sabbath – as Satanic and dark as the name sounded – had nothing to do with the devil when they chose their name.”
From a 2011 interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan:
Osbourne: This is the original, original, original Sabbath cross. My father made that when he was at work, and then when he come back with it, everyone in the band wanted one … I always wanted a man-to-man conversation with my father, but I was too into drugs and alcohol before he died. I miss my father a lot …
Morgan: One of the nice … poignant moments [in the film] is when you talked about your father. And you talked about [how] he made the very first cross. We’ve got it here, a simple silver cross, but meant so much to you.
Osbourne: Yeah …
Morgan: Do you think he would have been very proud of you, of what you’ve now done with your life?
Osbourne: I know he would. I know he would. I have a picture of him and my mom in my room there. And actually when I look at this cross today, I sorta go, “Hi, dad.”
2. Bassist and primary lyricist Geezer Butler.
From the Dec. 13, 2011 Q interview with guitarist Tony Iommi:
Jian Ghomeshi: Did you have a sense that this darker, moodier rock would set your future path at that point?
Tony Iommi: Well, not really, but we knew that it was something we wanted to do, and you never know for sure what’s gonna happen … We had a lot of people against us. When we came out with that first album, it was very hard for us because there was nothing round at that time like it. And so you can imagine, you know, that we had problems with the church, and with getting – being able to play in certain cities. And then of course the other side – the Satanists – would come to shows and see we were wearing crosses and run out, and it was very odd. We had real strange early days, you know …
Ghomeshi: So along with this popularity comes this widespread perception that you and Black Sabbath were in league with Satan. This is partly because of the artwork your record label came up with. And you did call yourselves Black Sabbath. What was it like when you first got that Satanist label attached to your band?
Iommi: Difficult. Um, because of course, yes, it came from the song – the name of the song Black Sabbath – and calling ourselves Black Sabbath of course opened a whole new can of worms, and then the artwork on the album … It created a mood, but it also created some people that were frightened to come and see us because they thought we’re gonna turn them into a frog or something, you know. So we had all sorts of weird things happening in the early days.
Ghomeshi: But Tony, it became part of the band’s calling card – I guess especially in America, whether you wanted it to be or not. Did you embrace that image, or was it always something you reluctantly lived with?
Iommi: Well, let’s put it this way. We had an interest, I certainly did and Geezer did, in what goes on beyond. It wasn’t sort of trying, you know, [to] be Satanic or anything like that. It was just an interest in what happens when you die, and where you go, and all that sort of stuff. And we also liked a lot of horror films. We used to go and see a lot of – we used to – it just created a great mood for us, and I think within our music that created the same sort of thing as the horror film would create, to the fans.
BBC HARDtalk: Tony Iommi
3. ‘War Pigs’. Butler said the song was “totally against the Vietnam War, about how these rich politicians and rich people start all the wars for their benefit, and get all the poor people to die for them”.
“Now in darkness world stops turning / Ashes where the bodies burning / No more war pigs have the power / Hand of God has struck the hour / Day of judgment, God is calling / On their knees the war pigs crawling / Begging mercy for their sins / Satan laughing spreads his wings / Oh Lord yeah!”
War Pigs - Dresden Dolls
Verres Militares (War Pigs) - Rondellus
4. ‘After Forever’, which continues: “Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone / Open your eyes, just realize that he’s the one / The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate / Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it’s too late.”
Video of the original song, with full lyrics in the description:
5. Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24-25) http://www.formerthings.com/ebla_tablets.htm
Flopping onto the couch beneath the painting, Ozzy said: “Every time I sit in this room, I want a cigarette. This is where I used to smoke. Actually, every time I eat, I want a cigarette. Every time I wake up in the morning, I want one. Every time I go to sleep, I want one. And they say it’s not addictive.”
6. ‘Buried Alive’, with the lyric: “The devil no longer has all the best tunes.” The album is a sequel to Journey to the Centre of the Earth, released in 1974.
Wakeman told Dan Wooding in a 1999 interview: “I chose Ozzy because he has a great voice, is a great friend, and was the right man for the song … I worked with Ozzy on his Ozzmosis album a few years ago in New York, and really thought it was a tremendous recording. There is so much more to Ozzy than meets the eye, or the ear … Ozzy and I have discussed many things in the 30 years we’ve known each other, and that has included God. I’m not going to say any more on this subject, as the things we discussed were pretty personal. Whilst my faith is well-known and I am always happy to discuss it openly whenever asked, I don’t think it’s right to talk about where another person is on their personal spiritual path, for in many cases only God is aware of it.” http://www.assistnews.net/strategic/s0000028.htm
Adam Wakeman (Rick’s second son) is the current keyboardist for both Ozzy’s band and Black Sabbath.
7. A Walk to Remember. See: http://www2.warnerbros.com/walktoremember.
The film is based on the 1999 novel by Nicholas Sparks.
Kelly continues: “I saw that and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m such a … idiot, I’m crying in a Mandy Moore film.’ But she was halfway decent in it, and it made me cry. So was the rest of the theater, even the guy sitting next to me that looked all tough in his FUBU and gold chains – he was even crying. It was just like, ‘Oh God, this is so sad!’ That’s kind of embarrassing.” From Christiantimes.com: “Instead of steamy scenes in parked cars or at parentless parties, this film by a major Hollywood studio shows [Jamie] Sullivan, played by Mandy Moore, reading her Bible and living faithfully by it. Unlike the Hollywood stereotype of conservative believers, this pastor’s daughter is sincere, talented and chaste. She’s openly, unmistakably, unashamedly Christian.”
8. Former U.S. vice-president Dan Quayle. Noting that offensive words are bleeped out and the show features two “loving parents,” Quayle said: “I think there are some very good lessons there that are being transmitted, of not doing drugs, of not doing alcohol … In a weird way, Ozzy is a great anti-drug promotion. Look at him and how fried his brains are from taking drugs all those years, and everyone will say, ‘I don’t want to be like that’.”
In 1992, Quayle made headlines with his famous swipe at Murphy Brown, a CBS sitcom about an unmarried TV reporter who decided to raise her child alone.
9. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helpmate suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2:18). See: http://creation.com/noah-and-genetics
On Sept. 11, 2001, after tearfully witnessing the World Trade Center carnage from their mid-town hotel, Ozzy and Sharon sought solace together in a Manhattan church across the street.
10. Pat Boone, who lived next door to the Osbournes for three years. Boone recalls: “I never heard the language that I hear on their show. I don’t know which – whether Ozzy or Sharon said, ‘Don’t use the language [when] Pat Boone’s over here.’ One of my fondest memories, when they lived next door to me, was riding bikes with Sharon in the afternoon on the sidewalks through Beverly Hills. And since Ozzy has a balance problem, she just towed him behind her bike in a wagon … Ozzy’s not going to like my saying this, but he is a very tender, gentle man. This is a guy whose world revolves not so much around music as around his wife.”
In 1997, Boone released In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy – a collection of almost unrecognizable heavy metal cover songs, given the big band jazz treatment.
‘Crazy Train’ begins: “Crazy, but that’s how it goes / Millions of people living as foes / Maybe it’s not too late / To learn how to love / And forget how to hate” https://soundcloud.com/reniazen/pat-boone-crazy-train
Coming Up for Air and Quoting Ozzy
Lazy Brain - ApologetiX (parody)
On April 10, 2003 Boone was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In 2002, Boone said, “There is no other recognition or award in this world that means more to me than this invitation to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. It would only be second to having my name in The Lamb’s Book of Life.”
11. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). Ozzy took the bookmark with him on the 2002 Ozzfest tour. He explained: “My mother gave me that prayer on her deathbed.”
12. Yourself. “Life’s a learning process. I don’t know … what the secret of life is. I think it’s just been – I’ve had a good reign, you know. I love my wife. I love my family. I love my, my – I’m beginning to love me a lot more than I ever used to. So the first person you should learn to love is yourself.”
“To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.” (Proverbs 19:8). “The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, ‘You shall not murder’, ‘You shall not steal’, ‘You shall not covet’, and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13: 9-10)
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne was co-produced by son Jack Osbourne and directed by Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli. “This is the most honest portrait of my father. I set out to tell the truth – regardless of how raw it might be – and I think we accomplished just that,” said Osbourne. The closing moments of the documentary show Ozzy in his dressing room before a concert: skipping rope; using an exercise bike; then, after closing the dressing room door, falling to his knees in prayer.
Ozzy Osbourne and Jesus Christ
Ozzy told ripitup.com.au last March: “Oh, that? That was part of my alcohol and drug recovery. I had to get on my knees and give thanks for what I have, but I don’t do that anymore. I just burn a few witches in the garden and go to bed.”
One Drink Away: http://www.ccel.us/dance.chap26.html
13. ‘God Is Dead?’. Rolling Stone reviewer Will Hermes says that Ozzy “rhymes ‘gloom,’ ‘doom’ and ‘tomb’ – metal’s unholy poetic trifecta.” The lyrics include: “I watch the rain / And it turns red / Give me more wine / I don’t need bread / These riddles that live in my head / I don’t believe that God is dead / God is dead.” Full lyrics are in this video:
God Is Dead?: Pianist Vika Yermolyeva
Butler told nme.com: “Ozzy came up with the title ‘God is Dead’ … He came up with that line, and … I was going ‘You can’t sing that!’ So he wanted to keep it in, so I started to write the rest of the lyrics … about a religious fanatic. Someone who’s been told that God is dead, and he wants to prove that God is alive and well. That’s what the song’s about.”
When Osbourne was interviewed by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 (April 18, 2013) he discussed the song: “I was in somebody’s office and there was a magazine on a table and it just said, ‘God Is Dead’, and I suddenly thought about 9/11 and all these terrorist things, and religion, and how many people have died in the name of religion. When you think about the tragedy that’s happened throughout time, it just came in my head. You’d think by now that their God would have stopped people dying in the name of [religion], so I just started thinking that people must be thinking: ‘Where is God? God is dead’ – and it just hit me.”
Ozzy added, “At the end of the thing, there’s still a bit of hope, because there I sing that I don’t believe that God is dead. It’s just a question of when you see so many dreadful people killing each other with bombs, and blowing the tube trains up, and the World Trade Center.”
The song’s protagonist, as voiced by Osbourne, appears to waver back and forth between faith and doubt. The Bible states: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1: 5-8)
The song’s protagonist needs to seek God’s protection: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground – and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6: 10-13)
“The hard work of discernment is needed if we as believers are ever to maintain any sort of meaningful dialog with the world around us. Paul did it at Mars Hill–but we would rather go up to that unmarked statue [of] the ‘God Who Isn’t Known’ and spray paint ‘Satanic’ or ‘Secular’ on it, than engage in the kind of discussion Paul models for us. Sigh. Calling Sabbath a Christian Band is silly. Needing to label every band is even sillier. There is truth out there all over the place – if we only had eyes to see it, or ears to hear it, as the case may be.”
– John J. Thompson, posted at:
Believers can add Ozzy to their prayer list:
Faith & the Music: Ozzy Osbourne 1/2
Faith & the Music: Ozzy Osbourne 2/2
CTV News Video: Ozzy and Black Sabbath make history
CNN’s People In The News profile of the Osbournes
Piers Morgan Tonight: At Home with the Osbournes
Black Sabbath: “We used to have cocaine flown in by private plane”
Black Sabbath In Conversation With Daniel P Carter
Ozzy Osbourne and the Apocalypse
What Does Black Sabbath Mean by ‘God Is Dead?’
Cope, Andrew L. ‘Black Sabbath and the Rise of Heavy Metal Music’
Cope, Andrew L. ‘Audio Presentations: Black Sabbath and the Rise of Heavy
Gilmour, Michael J. ‘Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post-1960s
Popular Music’ - Baylor University Press, 2009.
Held, Jacob M. ‘As the War Machine Keeps Turning: Just War Theory,
Pacifism, and the War on Terror’ - in Black Sabbath and Philosophy:
Mastering Reality, edited by William Irwin, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, pp.
Irwin, William, ed. ‘Black Sabbath and Philosophy: Mastering Reality’
Mann, Rachel. ‘The Joy of Darkness: What the Church can learn from Heavy
Metal’ - Originally posted in Church Times, 25 Aug 2010.
Moberg, Marcus. ‘Religion in Popular Music or Popular Music as Religion? A
Critical Review of Scholarly Writing on the Place of Religion in Metal
Music and Culture’ - Popular Music and Society, 2012.
Moreman, Christopher M. ‘Devil Music and the Great Beast: Ozzy Osbourne,
Aleister Crowley, and the Christian Right Journal of Religion and
Popular Culture, University of Toronto Press, Volume 5, Number 1, Fall
Nekola, Anna. ‘The Devil in Disguise: Evangelical Christian Anti-Rock
Discourse and the Origins of the Culture Wars’ - Popular Music 32:3 (Fall
International Society for Metal Music Studies
Leeds Met Academic Appointed Principal Editor Of New Metal Music Studies
Journal (25 March 2013)
Paranoid - Black Sabbath (Children Orff Cover)
Rock and Theology: Black Sabbath
Sabbatum: Medieval Tribute to Black Sabbath - Rondellus (2003)
THE POP GOSPEL is a column that communicates Judeo-Christian concepts to the postmodern culture using a Q & A format. Questions are gleaned from
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