Dear Tony and Geezer,
I hope this finds you both doing well. First off, Tony, I am so happy that you beat your battle with cancer. It just wasn’t your time yet and there is obviously much more for you to give to us before your time is done. Hopefully you will continue to riff for many more years to come but please, I beg of you, do it without Ozzy.
Back in 2006, you guys decided to reunite with Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice and you know what? You guys did it right. Instead of cashing in on the Black Sabbath moniker, you chose to name the band Heaven and Hell and played only Dio era material. My friends, this was brilliant. It was ballsy, it was bold, and it was risky but the risk paid off and you blew fans away and even picked up new ones along the way. Heaven and Hell was proof of just how strong this era of the band was and that you didn’t have to fall back on the Ozzy era stuff to move tickets.
Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to see Heaven and Hell live. The closest you guys came to the Southeast was NYC I believe when you filmed the live DVD at Radio City Music Hall. Had I known that this would be my last chance to see you guys live, I would’ve made an effort to get there but sadly, I learned the hard way that you don’t live forever. When our beloved Ronnie James Dio was diagnosed with cancer, like the true metal warrior he was, he fought on and continued to do shows until he just couldn’t do them anymore and then left us forever in 2010.
In July of that same year, Heaven and Hell was booked to perform at the High Voltage Festival in London. Instead of backing out of the festival, the band chose to seize the opportunity to pay homage to their fallen brother. They did so by recruiting the vocals of former Sabbath/Iommi collaborator Glenn Hughes and a Norwegian vocalist by the name of Jorn Lande. This was the first time I had even heard of this Jorn guy but when I saw the shitty yet amazing YouTube footage of his performance, my thought was, “This is the guy. They need this dude to move forward and to continue the legacy.”
Well, you didn’t move forward and instead you took 10 steps back by running back to Ozzy, kicking your brother/drummer Bill Ward to the curb all for a mighty paycheck. I really expected more from you guys. Why would you do this? The footage speaks for itself. You guys sounded like you were going through the motions while Ozzy stood up on that stage barely able to even sing the songs after down tuning what sounded like 10 steps. It was sad for me to see and it clearly came across as uninspired and forced. Even your “comeback” album 13 completely missed the mark.
Tony, you had such an opportunity to maintain the integrity that you had earned when putting together Heaven and Hell. Jorn Lande would have been the perfect guy to move forward with. Hell, if anything, you could have put together a whole new project with Jorn and done something truly spectacular. Maybe you could have given Tony Martin a call and finally done that album that has been long speculated? There are so many things that you could have done to make some truly great music as opposed to just standing behind Ozzy and Sharron as the legacy of Black Sabbath was raked over the coals.
And to you, Geezer Butler, how could you just stand there so stoically and allow this to happen? I guess at the end of the day, it’s a reality that money talks and does so louder than integrity. It really bums me out to think of the great things you guys could have done together in taking your talents forward and bringing some new life into heavy metal music. I will forever be a fan but to support this faux Black Sabbath is just something I will never do. Tony, Geezer, you guys still have time. Do the right thing and do something remarkable. Do something spectacular. Do something without Ozzy and Sharron. Do it before it’s too late.
Best to you both,
The Great Southern Brainfart