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The evil presence that haunted the Black Sabbath members

Black Sabbath and their fifth supernatural member


The evil presence that haunted the Black Sabbath members

Black Sabbath was created in 1968 in Birmingham by Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward, being the band that really gave birth to Heavy Metal music. They were not only the first ones to make the heaviest music you could hear, the group also combined the heavy sound with lyrics that talked openly about the occult and the devil. That was the perfect recipe to scare all the parents of the young kids who loved to feel afraid while listening to their music in the early days.


But curiously, strange things were not happening only in their music, there were a lot of weird stuff happening with the four musicians, who believed the group always had a fifth member. Sabbath felt like they had some kind of presence following them all the time and guiding them.

The evil presence that Black Sabbath members felt that followed them

There are many strange things that happened in order to put Black Sabbath to find their sound and certainly the main one was the accident that made the guitarist Tony Iommi lose the tip of his two middle fingers. That eventually made him change the way he played and how he tuned his guitar, giving them the unique heavy sound they had.

During the first years as Tony Iommi said in an interview for the movie about their 90s reunion, they all believed there was a fifth mystical member in the band. “(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) Within the band, we’ve always believed there was a fifth member. A mystical member. We always said there was something looking over us.”

He continued:

“When we first wrote this kind of music we didn’t know what we were doing. (We said) ‘God, we like this, it’s strange but we like it’. Because we went from playing Blues to suddenly writing ‘Wicked World’ and ‘Black Sabbath’. And ‘Black Sabbath’ is quite an unusual song.” Tony Iommi said.

The drummer Bill Ward said in the same conversation that during the first three albums, they would show up for rehearsal and feel like the songs had already been written for them. “The only way I can describe that, was that when we were playing our first songs together, especially our first three albums, for instance. We would literally show up in a room and it was almost as if the songs were already written.”

“That’s why I like to call Black Sabbath a phenomenon. Although it’s a Rock and Roll band, there is a phenomenon involved there. That stuff just comes from somewhere and we happened to be the ones that it came to,” Bill Ward said.

More recently, in an interview with Mojo magazine in 2020, Iommi said again that all of them felt like the group had a fifth member who use to guide them in everything they did. Many weird things happened with all them and they all believed there was something going on. “We always felt within the band that there was a fifth member. It sounds ridiculous now, but we always felt that there was somebody overlooking us and guiding us. We felt this presence when we were all together.”

He continued:

“It was one of those things we’d refer to as being the over-self or the fifth member, looking out for us. … We were so close as a band, we lived in each other’s pockets from the start, that we became as one. This fifth member seemed very real and there to us.”

Things always seemed to happen to us that were quite weird. We’d be in the van, for example, and one of us would look out of the window and go, ‘Oh, look, there’s a fish-and-chip shop over there’. And just as we’d say that, the lights would go out in the shop. There were just always strange things happening to us back then,” Tony Iommi said.

Their first song was written after Geezer saw a big black shape staring him and had the “devil’s notes”

Their self-titled song was also inspired by a vision of a black evil shape the bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler saw one night after being obsessed for a while with the occult. He had painted his apartment matte black, placing many inverted crucifixes and pictures of the devil on the walls. Ozzy gave him a black occult book written in Latin to be part of his decoration.

After reading the book before going to bed, the bassist woke up in the middle of the night from a terrible nightmare seeing a big black figure standing in the front of his bed, staring at him. After a while the figure was gone and Butler went to try to find the book Ozzy gave him but it was gone.

Another interesting fact about that song was that Tony Iommi used a particular interval called the tritone, which is often called “Diabolus In Music”. Those notes were prohibited in medieval music and according to the mythology, the interval was considered sexual and would summon the devil.

However, the curious thing is that Iommi said in an interview with BBC in 2014 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) that he had no idea those notes had that connection. “I never thought of it, I never even knew about it, to be honest, when I first did it. Then later (people said) ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be playing those notes’.”

He continued:

“(I used to say) ‘Why?’ I didn’t understand all that. We were 19 years-old, you know. ‘Black Sabbath’ was the first song to have (those notes). Apparently those were the notes you never use, which we did. But I never knew that,” Tony Iommi said.

After those weird experiences in the early days of the band, Butler stopped reading about black magic. But many of the band’s fans believed they were into it. So it was common to get out of their hotels during the tours and have people lighting candles, chanting. They were even invited to be part of black masses. It was because of those encounters that Ozzy’s father made them crosses, in order to protect them from evil.

The Black Sabbath members use to dream about the same thing at night

Another strange thing that used to happen to Ozzy, Geezer, Tony and Bill in the early days is that used to dream about the exact same thing at night. The band’s drummer recalled that in an interview with Metal Hammer in 2021. It was a kind of priest or spectre that visited them while they were sleeping. However, Bill believes it was some kind of guardian angel and not an evil presence.

“When we finished Black Sabbath rehearsals at the Aston community centre. I had feelings inside telling me a few things; we were different and it didn’t matter if we became famous. I knew what we’d made would cause a few problems. But also earn us great affection. I’m so fucking proud of that.”

“Black Sabbath were so tight, we’d have the same dreams. It happens when you’re in a room transferring things to each other musically all day. So we’d end up having similar dreams. One of the dreams we had was being visited by a priest, or a spectre. I just saw that as a guardian angel. I love ghosts – I’m a ghost person and have been most of my life,” Bill Ward said.

Iommi and Ozzy saw a ghost when they were recording “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”

Weird stuff continued to happen with them and during the recording of their fifth album “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” (1973), Tony Iommi saw a ghost.

The group tried for months to record the new album in Los Angeles but they couldn’t come up with something. So they decided to return to the United Kingdom and rented the Clearwell Castle located in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England. Other bands like Led Zeppelin, Mott the Hoople and Deep Purple had already been there before.

After spending time there, Iommi came up with the main guitar riff for the classic title-track. But he recalled that in an interview for the documentary “The Black Sabbath Story Vol. 1” (1992), that he and Ozzy saw a ghost.

“(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) We were rehearsing in this castle once in Wales. We used to rehearse in the dungeons, which was the dungeons of the castle. One day we were in this one big room. We had a fire, a big fire going and Ozzy fell asleep in the couch.”

He continued:

“Then we walked out and a piece of coal fell out and the place caught on fire but Ozzy managed to get out. Later on that day we walked down to a passage and there was an armory on the right as we walked down. We saw this figure coming towards us and then going to this armory. We thought: ‘Who is this guy?’ So we went into this armory, Ozzy and myself. Of course there was nobody there.”

“The doors were locked from the inside and I was like ‘That’s strange’. I gotta be honest, we frightened the life out of each other and we had to leave in the end. Everybody terrified each other because we were playing jokes on each other and nobody knew who was doing it. It just got ridiculous, I used to leave, drive all the way home and drive back the next day (laughs).”

During the same interview Geezer Butler joked saying that they were this satanic band that used to drive home every night because they were too scared to remain in the castle at night.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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