35 Years Ago: Black Sabbath Reunite, Briefly, for Live Aid
While raising awareness for hunger relief with Live Aid, organizer Bob Geldof is also credited with corralling some of the world’s most coveted reunions. Led Zeppelin, of course, got all of the attention. But another Live Aid reunion that was nearly as unlikely involved Black Sabbath.
After all, this wasn’t just about singer Ozzy Osbourne returning to his former band – because, at that time, Black Sabbath also effectively ceased to exist.
Osbourne had been building his solo career since 1979, and drummer Bill Ward had checked out for medical reasons by the following year (before briefly returning in ’83). Bassist Geezer Butler had cashed in his chips after the ill-fated Born Again tour too, leaving only guitarist Tony Iommi to prepare his first solo album.
As such, the group’s brief reformation for the Live Aid extravaganza should have garnered more attention than it did beyond the diehard heavy metal community. Instead, it was mostly this smaller, but still-diehard group who acknowledged it as some kind of second coming when Iommi (dressed head-to-toe black leather and dangling crucifixes), Osbourne (sporting his ‘80s glam metal silver finery and teased bouffant) and company took the stage on July 13, 1985 in Philadelphia.
Black Sabbath proceeded to attack three of their best-loved heavy metal classics, “Children of the Grave,” “Iron Man” and “Paranoid.” Then, in less than 15 minutes, it was all over. The renewal of the band's once-strong camaraderie simply vanished: Ozzy Osbourne returned to his burgeoning solo pursuits, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler faded into semi-retirement and Tony Iommi reluctantly released 1986’s Seventh Star as a Black Sabbath album when the project was hijacked by record-label suits.
The world would have to wait more than a decade to see Black Sabbath’s founding quartet reunite again, a period made a bit more tolerable with the memory of this feud-healing afternoon at Live Aid.