Symptom of the Universe
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A raucous biography of the legendary heavy metal band infamous for their offstage behavior.

Now recognized as one of the most influential and notorious rock bands in history, it was never easy for the four principal members of Black Sabbath. Growing up within a short distance of each other in the bleak Birmingham suburb Aston, the band formed in unlikely, albeit coincidental circumstances when former boyhood adversaries Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi reconnected and brought together friends and fellow musicians Geezer Butler and Bill Ward to round out the core lineup of the group. The band toiled endlessly through name and lineup changes, honing their dark and sludgy sound in clubs (often getting tossed out after a few songs), and they built a devoted following on the back of their frenetic live shows. Suddenly, as quickly as it was improbable, Black Sabbath had landed a record deal and was being courted by established impresario/gangster Don Arden. The band refused Arden's advances, at first, but their fate was sealed when Osbourne was introduced to his daughter, Sharon, whom he would marry. Arden would later help the band recover from being ripped off by their managers. Veteran music journalist and biographer Wall (AC/DC: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, 2013, etc.) writes with conversational verve and wit, matching the lifestyles of his subjects, as he chronicles their unexpected rise to international fame and catastrophic downfall. The archetypal hallmarks of Black Sabbath’s career were epitomized after their sophomore album, “Paranoid,” went to No. 1 in the U.K.: “The next three years flew by in a blizzard of dope, cocaine, booze, sex, and the best music anybody in Black Sabbath would ever make.” Osbourne was ultimately expelled, and Sabbath reimagined itself with Ronnie James Dio as their new frontman and a host of other stand-ins before the original lineup reunited 35 years later.

Another straightforward, solid hard rock bio from Wall.

Pub Date: April 14th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-05134-9
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2015


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