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The Night Black Sabbath Launched Their First Tour With Ronnie James Dio

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Black Sabbath began the second chapter of their storied career in Aurich, Germany on April 17, 1980, when they hit the stage for their first show with Ozzy Osbourne’s replacement, Ronnie James Dio.

At the time, no one could really forecast what lay ahead – triumph or tragedy or anything in-between – for the reconfigured Sabbath, but Dio’s solid reputation fronting Rainbow and the underrated Elf obviously preceded him. There was also the generally accepted notion that the drug-damaged Osbourne was washed up – though that soon would be powerfully refuted.

The Dio-helmed Sabbath offered a varied set-list mixing older classics (“War Pigs,” “Paranoid,” “Sweet Leaf,” “N.I.B.,” etc.) with new offerings like “Children of the Sea,” “Heaven and Hell” and “Die Young.” They met audiences on a bill that alternately featured support from the French rockers Shakin’ Street and up-and-coming New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Girlschool, Samson and Angel Witch. Heaven and Hell, the band’s well-received first album with Dio, then followed on April 25 – and it seemed to many that Sabbath had made the right choice in moving on.

Perhaps most amazing of all, though, is the fact that the lucky fans who attended these historic U.K. shows had to shell out all of ₤4.50 for the honor! Thousands of fans saw Black Sabbath as they crisscrossed the U.K. and Europe through to the end of June. They then brought the Heaven and Hell tour stateside, where it enjoyed similar acclaim all the way through November. After that, Black Sabbath were off to Japan and Australia.

Trouble was looming for the group, but that was still far off in the distance. For now, Black Sabbath’s Dio era had gotten off to an exceptionally positive start.

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