Original Black Sabbath lineup reunites

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Good news for classic rock and metal fans: guitarist Tony Iommi has confirmed that the original lineup of Black Sabbath is back together again, holed up in a secret studio in the Midlands, and writing music and rehearsing for a new album and tour. The original group (Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward) formed in 1969, gave Ozzy the boot in 1979 for his out-of-control drinking and drugging, and rotated band members throughout the '80s and '90s, with Iommi being the one constant presence.

The 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees had reunited several times since the late '90s, but were never able to record a record together. Of the new record, Iommi said "We're really looking forward to it and I think the stuff we've been writing is really good. It's more back to the old original stuff." But he does worry about the health of drummer Ward, who suffered a heart attack in 1998. Iommi related that Ward "hasn't been 100 percent. He had an operation a few months ago, so we'll see how he is."

Black Sabbath has gotten a bad rap over the years for their name, which conjures up images of dark, satanic doings, and the antics of Osbourne. But taken on its merits, the music (meaning the stuff from the early seventies), is bluesy, pioneering metal, which unfortunately got watered down through the years. There was just no replacing the original incarnation and, sadly, last year's passing of another Sabbath singer, Ronnie James Dio, may have been the impetus for this current reunion. Potential Ozzy groupies should be warned though: Sharon Osbourne will probably be hovering like a hawk with the evil eye, so tread lightly.