Black Sabbath isn’t just the first heavy metal band, they’re also the group that brought Satanism and the occult into the world of mainstream music. But did Black Sabbath worship the Devil, or were they just flirting with Satanism? The best Black Sabbath albums are arguably the records where Black Sabbath's ties to Satan are on full display, but did they ever really get into the occult? Were all those upside-down crosses and songs about Satan just for record sales? Black Sabbath and Satan definitely had a mutually beneficial relationship, but it's tricky to determine whether or not everyone was just doing it for the money.
Regardless of whether or not the guys in Black Sabbath are actually dyed-in-the-wool Satanists, their songs still rock decades after they were recorded. Black Sabbath was one of the first groups to use controversy to sell albums. As for whether or not they delved into Satanism, it's best to hear the facts from the band itself.
They Were Stalked By Satanic CultistsPhoto: Liamoooooooo / via YouTube
Black Sabbath projected a dark image full of upside-down crosses and an unending bleakness that appealed to a generation of drugged-out proto-groths. That image brought out the weirdos, and as vocalist Ozzy Osbourne wrote in his autobiography I Am Ozzy, he was shocked that people took them seriously:
"I couldn’t believe it when I learned that people actually 'practised [sic] the occult.' These freaks with white make-up and black robes would come up to us after our gigs and invite us to black masses at Highgate Cemetery in London. I’d say to them, 'Look, mate, the only evil spirits I’m interested in are called whisky, vodka, and gin.'"
Geezer Butler First Started Studying The Occult As A TeenagerPhoto: Black Sabbath / via YouTube
Before Geezer Butler became Black Sabbaths's bassist, he spent most of his time studying Satanism. He painted his bedroom black, read up on the occult, and started buying Satanic paraphernalia. Butler also experienced kidney pains in his late teens, which sparked an uncomfortable encounter with his parents:
"The doctor called [my parents] to take me to the hospital, and my dad came in, like, 'Mother of God' ripping all the upside-down crosses and pictures of Satan off the wall."
They Can't Stand Their Occult FansPhoto: SabbathinoFrost / via YouTube
Guitarist Tony Iommi claims that Black Sabbath and their crew take any chance they can get to completely burn their occult-obsessed devotees:
"One night, after finishing a show, we returned to the hotel and found the corridor leading to our rooms completely filled with people wearing black cloaks, sitting on the floor with candles in their hands, chanting, 'Ahhhhh.' So we climbed over them to get to our rooms, but we could still hear them chanting... [The crew] synchronized our watches, opened our doors at the same time, blew out the candles and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to them. Pissed ’em off."
The Band Members Never Converted To SatanismPhoto: Black Sabbath / via YouTube
According to guitarist Tony Iommi, the guys in Black Sabbath played around with the idea of being Satanists, but never actually joined up because they were too busy being a band. Though the band members never belonged to the Church of Satan, he doesn't feel their connections with the occult are disingenuous.
He told the BBC, "It was creating music, and that’s all I do. I don’t try to create anything to destroy people or to upset anybody. It’s helped more people than they say."