Sabbath Gaudy Sabbath (or Hey, Let’s Make Fun Of The Crap Some Rock Stars Wore In 1985)

Black Sabbath—true Gods of heavy metal. The undisputed inventors of it, actually, right? I’m a little dicey on their history, but I believe original singer Ozzy Osbourne quit Black Sabbath in 1979 so he could do heroin full-time and dick around with Randy Rhoads before the latter died. The band soldiered on without the Blizzard of Oz for some time after that, but they weren’t against reuniting with Osbourne for the occasional multiple continent charity event. That’s exactly what happened on July 13, 1985, when the original Black Sabbath lineup reformed for Bob Geldof’s much-ballyhooed Live Aid concert.

On the plus side, Ozzy and the boys sounded really great on that sunny Reagan afternoon. On the minus side, they looked totally fucking ridiculous. Let’s review the video tape:

0:03 – I know from other YouTube clips of this same performance that the person introducing Black Sabbath here is Chevy “I Used To Be In Steely Dan” Chase. This footage is edited down; the band actually opened with “Children of the Grave.” What I cannot tell you is the correct wingspan of Ozzy’s fully extended cape at 0:08.

0:22 – I see you’ve been in my grandma’s closet, Ozzy. Jeez Louise. I didn’t know the Prince of Darkness went through a Rue McClanahan phase.

0:43 – Hey, who’s that guy who ate Bill Ward, and why is he dressed like Richard Simmons? The giant metal cross does not make up for those matching wrist warmers, Billy Boy.

0:45 – Uh, FRINGE MUCH? Way to look like Zorro’s cougar mom. At 0:48, Iommi actually has to push his guitar away from all that fringe. That’s how you know you’re wearing too much fringe. If it’s interfering with your day job.

1:14 – Bassist Geezer Butler is the most normal-looking of this 1985 pre-Poison freakshow we’re witnessing here, but that’s not really saying much. He still looks like he’s auditioning for Night Ranger. Also, the guitar Geez is using is a little too pointy and a little too fire engine red for the band that wrote “Symptom of the Universe.” Gotta love the matching pants, though.

1:35 – Those drums are the property of Live Aid AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT!

1:38 – Check out Ozzy’s hair. It’s at that perfect stage where the perspiration has yet to compromise the integrity of the Farrah Fawcett blow-out.

1:48 – Hey, I just noticed Iommi’s fringe nightmare is also adorned with an obscene amount of metal crosses. Did Black Sabbath buy metal crosses wholesale and just stick ’em on every necklace and jacket they owned? No way Tony got through airport security with that thing on.

3:05 – Iommi’s expression suggests he is proud of his female biker ensemble. In fact, every member of Black Sabbath seems very not ashamed of their duds. This is your brain on money, fame, drugs, and Philadelphia. Any questions?

Black Sabbath didn’t always dress like the Golden Girls. I think all rock fans fondly remember their dingy, leather-jacketed ’70s look:


Yet even back then, they couldn’t resist a little a lot of fringe. Here’s a 1974 clip that finds Ozzy and Iommi sporting some threads that would make the Bee Gees blush:

Who knows, maybe these guys never had it together fashion-wise. Maybe those leather jackets and belt buckles were a fluke. Maybe fringe is fucking HUGE in working class areas of England. Well, at least Black Sabbath managed to write some killer rock tunes in between their numerous visits to Dress Barn.

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