40 Years ago last Saturday


Saturday 13th February saw the 40th Anniversary of the UK release of Black Sabbath, the first album by Black Sabbath. And yes, you will be pleased to hear that February 13th 1970 fell on a Friday.

The common consensus is that the record, particularly the opening track represent some kind of year zero for heavy metal. Articles on this blog have already eloquently described the opening bars so I have saved myself a job and linked to them for you to remind yourselves once more. My only contribution at the time of this 40th anniversary is to ponder just how many bedrooms those opening bells have tolled in? It may have sold XX million, but how many times has it cast its spell?

Chris Ayres, co author of the I Am Ozzy biography goes into more detail about the recording itself and the band’s situation at the time in a recently published piece here. It’s clear from the recollections of the band that they had no idea they were creating rock history at the time. The 12 hour session at Regent Studio, Tottenham Court Road, London where they laid down the 7 tracks on the record was simply something they fitted in on a mid November day in 1969 enroute to Europe.

So, how did you mark this anniversary? I’m pleased to report that I attended a packed out sweaty gig in a room above a pub just up the road from the location of Henry’s Blues House. Earlier in the evening I had enjoyed telling the visiting support band about the history the pub just down the road and what was going down there 40 or so years ago. As is all too often the  case when I relay the story of Henry’s and its roll call of patrons (Plant, all of Sabbath, Halford et al)  to people from other cities they had no idea about the club and its importance in the development of an enduring global music phenomena.

And later that evening as I watched a Sabbath inspired band rock out I reflected on that earlier conversation and the potential for the Home of Metal project to ensure that in future when people visit Birmingham, or think of Birmingham, they will be doing so with a fuller knowledge of  places such as Henry’s and its importance as part of the jigsaw that 40 years ago began to take shape as metal.

Saturday 13th February saw the 40th Anniversary of the UK release of Black Sabbath, the first album by Black Sabbath. And yes, you will be pleased to hear that February 13th 1970 fell on a Friday. The common consensus is that the record, particularly the opening track represent some kind of year zero for heavy metal. Articles on this blog have already eloquently described the opening bars so I have saved myself a job and linked to them for you to remind yourselves once more. My only contribution at the time of this 40th anniversary is to ponder just how many bedrooms those opening bells have tolled in? It may have sold XX million, but how many times has it cast its spell?

Chris Ayres, co author of the I Am Ozzy biography goes into more detail about the recording itself and the band’s situation at the time in a recently published piece here. It’s clear from the recollections of the band that they had no idea they were creating rock history at the time. The 12 hour session at Regent Studio, Tottenham Court Road, London where they laid down the 7 tracks on the record was simply something they fitted in on a mid November day in 1969 enroute to Europe. So, how did you mark this anniversary? I’m pleased to report that I attended a packed out sweaty gig in a room above a pub just up the road from the location of Henry’s Blues House. Earlier in the evening I had enjoyed telling the visiting support band about the history the pub just down the road and what was going down there 40 or so years ago.

As is all too often the case when I relay the story of Henry’s and its roll call of patrons (Plant, all of Sabbath, Halford et al) to people from other cities they had no idea about the club and its importance in the development of an enduring global music phenomena. And later that evening as I watched a Sabbath inspired band rock out I reflected on that earlier conversation and the potential for the Home of Metal project to ensure that in future when people visit Birmingham, or think of Birmingham, they will be doing so with a fuller knowledge of  places such as Henry’s and its importance as part of the jigsaw that 40 years ago began to take shape as metal.