Black Sabbath has reunited with all four original band members, including singer Ozzy Osbourne, following recent speculation.
The British heavy metal group, made up of Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward and bassist Terry "Geezer" Butler, appeared at a press conference at the iconic Whiskey A Go-Go club in Los Angeles on Friday, November 11, to announce plans for a new album and a 2012 world tour. The band is also set to perform at the Download Festival in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2012.
"We've written about seven or eight songs .. and they're really good," Osbourne said at the press conference. "I'm not just saying that. I'm like, 'Woah!'"
"Tony's come up with like, absolutely incredible music," Butler added. "It really is back to the old Sabbath style and sound."
The band members also made the announcement through a video message posted on the band's website with the title, "Reunited: 33 years in the making."
Iommi said reuniting with his former bandmates was like "putting on an old glove," adding: "It's fantastic."
He also said on his website: "The truth is it has only come together properly in the last few days! Look forward to seeing you all in 2012."
November 11, or 11/11/11, has been dubbed "Nigel Tufnel Day" by fans of the 1984 cult musical mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap," which depicted a fictional tour by a heavy metal group that has often been compared to Black Sabbath.
The group's new ninth studio album will be produced by Rick Rubin, who also appeared at the press conference. The four band members are currently recording it and have not yet announced a title.
OSBOURNE'S VOICE 'SOUND AS A BELL'
Black Sabbath, which has released commercially-successful hits such as "Iron Man," formed in 1969 and has sold more than 70 million albums. The group members last recorded a major studio record together in 1978 - "Never Say Die."
Whisky A Go-Go, located in the famed rock district of Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard, was the venue of Black Sabbath's first concert in Los Angeles, which took place exactly 41 years ago on Nov 11, 1970.
"We've gone full circle," Osbourne said in a promotional interview. "We've loved each other, hated each other, never wanted to sit in the same room with each other. If we didn't work out on the road ... if the album didn't work, I'm happy that we're great friends and we can call each other and say, 'Hi, how are you doing?'"
The four original Black Sabbath members have reunited sporadically for concerts from 1985 to 2005. The group was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006.
"I've played with some great band lineups and great musicians but nobody plays those songs like the four of us," Osbourne added. "You can get the notes, you can get the rifs. But that body of people that make that one sound - there's only one Black Sabbath."
Ward said there is a lot of "flexibility" among the band members nowadays.
"This feels like a band," he said. "This feels like how we used to put things together. Everyone is included in the process. Ozzy's voice is so clear and sound as a bell and just incredible-sounding. I listen to Tony's playing and Terry's playing and I'm not doing too bad myself as a drummer."
PAST REUNION RUMORS
In August, Iommi dismissed a UK newspaper report that said the original members of Black Sabbath were set to release a new album and tour together. The article fueled online rumors of a band reunion.
In 1998, the original band members released the double album "Reunion," which contains recordings from two UK concerts they had performed together a year earlier. Also in 1998, Ward survived a heart attack.
Osbourne, who is also known as a solo singer and reality star, was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979 after squabbling with the musicians and battling substance abuse.
He has found international success as a solo artist. Osbourne's 1991 album "No More Tears" and 1979 record "Blizzard of Oz" have each sold more than 4 million copies in the United States. The singer's 2003 single "Crazy Train" was a commercial hit and has sold more than 2 million copies in the United States.
Osbourne's "Ozzfest" festival, a multi-million dollar tour that features top and emerging rock and metal artists, continues to attract scores of fans. No Ozzfest was planned for 2011, as Osbourne opted to tour Europe on his own instead.
In recent years, Osbourne has became a television favorite, often scoring spots on commercials - such as one with teen pop star Justin Bieber. Osbourne has been both mocked and celebrated due to his crazy antics on his MTV reality series "The Osbournes. "The show debuted in 2002 and featured his quirky life in Los Angeles with his wife Sharon and children Kelly and Jack.
Black Sabbath's second-most famous lead vocalist was Ronnie James Dio, a more melodic singer who was once part of the band Rainbow. He replaced Osbourne and Black Sabbath released its first album with him, "Heaven and Hell," in 1980. The album was one of the band's most successful records and has sold more than 1 million copies in the Unites States.
Also in 1980, Ward battled alcohol abuse and was fired from the band. He was replaced by Vinny Appice.
In 1982, Dio and Appice left Black Sabbath and began recording music with a new band, also called Dio. The group released the hit song "Holy Diver." Ian Gillan led Black Sabbath until 1984, after which he returned to his former band, Deep Purple. Butler soon quit as Black Sabbath's bassist. The band, left with Iommi as the only remaining original band member, continued to try out new singers.
In 1992, the singer Dio, Appice, Iommi and Butler recorded the album "Dehumanizer" under the Black Sabbath band name. Dio left the ensemble again that year and the band went on to release two more studio albums throughout the 1990s with new singer Tony Martin.
However, the four reunited in 2006 and went by the name Heaven & Hell. They embarked on a tour and in released the album "The Devil You Know" in 2009. In May of 2010, the singer Dio died of stomach cancer.
"We've all done our things," Iommi said. "It's time now to get back together with the original lineup. The last time we actually tour together was great. We've all been in touch. We all talk to each other all the time."