The album Ozzy Osbourne called a “milestone” for heavy metal

As the 1970s dawned, Black Sabbath beckoned a new era for rock music. The 1960s had been a period of sociopolitical transition as rock music spread its wings in the Western world. The ‘70s would take bold new steps, with dynamic genre propagation working listeners into tighter niches. Ozzy Osbourne and his Black Sabbath bandmates took the heavy rock sound of The Who, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles’ proto-metal anthem, ‘Helter Skelter’, and malleated it into a beast of their own: heavy metal.

Although Osbourne is regarded as the Prince of Darkness and the vocal progenitor of heavy metal, it’s a label with which he’s not entirely comfortable. While he undoubtedly welcomes reverence in his field, the term “heavy metal” appears too broad. “I hate that terminology,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016, “Because it goes from Poison to fucking Black Sabbath, and there is quite a fucking difference.”

Despite identifying that not all metal bands are made equal, Osbourne has proven himself to be an upstanding mentor in the metal world over the years. In the 1980s and ‘90s, he took the likes of Metallica, Motörhead and Mötley Crüe on tour with him and has given bands like Slipknot, Tool, Pantera, and Slayer a crucial platform at Ozzfest.

In a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, Osbourne was asked to name his ten favourite metal albums of all time. Among his selections was Metallica’s third studio album, Master of Puppets, a staple of the thrash metal subgenre.

“I took Metallica on tour with me after the release of Master of Puppets [in 1986],” Osbourne said, commenting on his selection. “The album was a milestone for the band and for heavy metal.”

In a 2022 conversation with Metal Hammer, Osbourne remembered the moment he first met Metallica. “Everybody used to stay at LA’s Sunset Marquis, so I ran into them there,” he said. “Not long after, we had them out on tour with us. They came right out of their box; people loved them. They brought along a great following, which helped them take off down the line. They were all nice guys, so I was happy when my old bass player [Rob Trujillo] ended up playing with them.”

As Metallica accompanied Osbourne on tour, the Brit didn’t realise Metallica were huge fans of Black Sabbath until he heard them covering one of the band’s hits. “They were opening the show,” Osbourne recalled. “I remember walking past the dressing room and they were playing Black Sabbath – I had no idea they were big fans, I thought they were taking the piss!”

“While we were on tour, I’d keep seeing James [Hetfield] hanging about like he wanted to ask something,” he continued. “Eventually, he walked up and said, ‘We want to play ‘Paranoid’ with you’, and we were like, ‘Sure!’ – then they showed just how big Sabbath fans they were. Cliff had a massive smile on his face the whole time. Of course, it all came back round when I got up to do it with them at the Rock a Roll Hall Of Fame [in 2009], which was brilliant too.”

Watch Ozzy Osbourne perform ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Paranoid’ with Metallica at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 below.

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