The Late Movies: Black Sabbath and the Birth of Heavy Metal

On February 13, 1970, a band from Birmingham, England, called Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut album. Sure the forty years since then have been rough (i.e., singer Ozzy Osbourne's turn as a reality TV star and musical output over the last 10 years), but that doesn't take anything away from Sabbath's legacy or our celebration heavy metal's birth.

Black Sabbath

The first track off the debut, the song that started it all, is driven by a guitar riff that uses an interval called a diminished fifth or tritone (the interval spans three whole tones). It's also known as diabolus in musica, or "the Devil in music," as it suggests an "evil" or "scary sound." Since its use in "Black Sabbath," the interval has become fairly commonplace and almost cliché in heavy metal riffs.

Children of the Grave

One of Sabbath's faster and more musically aggressive songs doesn't lose any effect even when played under a rainbow prop by guys in yellow Capri pants and fringed shirts. Now that's metal.


Live from the Never Say Die Tour in 1978. If you watch some old Sabbath performances and then shows from Ozzy's solo days or the Sabbath reunion, you'll notice somewhere around 1980 or 1981, he stops hanging out on the side of the stage and moves to the center. According to Ozzy, he took the side of the stage because of his stage fright, but Randy Rhodes (who played guitar for Ozzy early in his solo career) convinced him that the singer should be in the center.

Black Sabbath Superfan

Here's your typical Black Sabbath fan boy in his natural habitat, a record store signing. I'd like to think that I would be above reacting this way in the same situation, but I can't make any promises.

Into the Void

Live in Pittsburgh, 1999. This is my favorite Sabbath tune and definitely one of my "desert island songs." I always wish that Ozzy would just shut up and let the band play the intro, though.

Fairies Wear Boots

Live in Paris, 1970. According to guitarist Tony Iommi, the song's title and lyrics come from a night when Ozzy and bassist Geezer Butler standing around outside smoking and saw fairies running around in boots in a nearby park. I can think of no better way to keep kids off drugs than making them listen to Ozzy speak for 5 minutes or walk up a slight incline.


Quick True/False: World Capitals
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.


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