Buzz Worthy

Happy birthday, heavy metal

Throw up the horns.

Bang your head.

And wish heavy metal happy birthday.

Feb. 13 fell on a Friday in 1970.

That’s the original, British release date of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album.

The English youths brave enough to get past the creepy cover and buy a copy probably had to make sure Mum and Dad weren’t within earshot before giving it a spin.

After dropping the needle on the opening title track they would hear:

Ominous rainfall.

Church bells.


Crushing guitar riffs.

The sonic equivalent of a slow, scary journey through mental hell.

And then the ... “Oh, nooooooooooooo!” howl of lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, who sounds as if he were just thrown into a lake of fire.

Sure, Cream and Led Zeppelin had already released bad boy, blues-rock albums of a similar bent.

But it took Black Sabbath’s particularly haunting brand of gloom-and-doom to define what would come to be known as heavy metal.

The album reached the U.S. in May of 1970 followed by the “Paranoid” record a few months later.

Dad took my mom to see Black Sabbath perform in 1971 at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg, Pa., on July 20, 1971.

That’s several years before the high school sweethearts married and then had my three younger siblings and I.

Strange to picture my parents at a Sabbath show.

“It was incredible,” Pops recalled.


“No. I left feeling delightfully shocked.”

Dad bought me “Paranoid” -- in used CD form -- while visiting the University of South Florida Tampa campus I attended in the early 2000s.

The disc, which includes classics such as the title track and “Iron Man,” helped me bang out many college papers written several hours before they were due.

Blasting “Paranoid” still helps when I’m on deadline these days.

On Friday, Osbourne plays the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

He’ll perform material from those early Sabbath records that pioneered heavy metal.

But the experience won’t come close to what my parents enjoyed in 1971.

Or the people who saw Sabbath perform that same summer at old Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa.

No one will likely be talking about the concert four decades later.

It’s saying something, though, that thousands will be attending Friday after all these years.

Shouting out their favorite song titles.


Throwing up the horns.

And banging their heads.

Happy birthday, heavy metal.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at (941) 745-7057. Visit his blog at