Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
Most bands wish they could go out like this. In 2015, Black Sabbath announced they were calling it a career after almost 50 years together, but not before undertaking one last tour of the world. For a full year, the band played a grand total of 81 gigs, busting out brutal renditions of some of the heaviest music ever recorded, songs like “Iron Man,” “Paranoid,” “Faeries Wear Boots,” and “War Pigs” to name a few. Fans came out in droves to cheer, and sing, and pay their last respects.
I caught the band at an outdoor amphitheater in the suburbs of Chicago this last summer and can personally attest that their decision to hang it up has nothing to do with not being able to deliver the goods. Sitting about five rows back from Tony Iommi, for about two-hours, my eyes and ears were pummeled as he casually tossed off some of the most mind-melting guitar solos I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness in person. Ozzy Osbourne remained his cackling, boisterous self, while Geezer Butler, the rock of the band, held it down on bass. Sabbath remained Sabbath.
When it came time to pick the location for their final gig, the choice was obvious. It had to be their hometown in Birmingham, UK. With everything on the line, Sabbath came through with a performance for the ages, gifting the crowd with a swan song they won’t likely soon forget. Luckily, they had the foresight to bring a camera crew along with them to that special show and it was captured for posterity as the new concert documentary The End, which comes out this Friday on November 17.
Recently, I had the chance to talk to Geezer Butler about the experience of bringing the band to a glorious end, their shared legacy, and what might lay on the horizon.