Interview with Black Sabbath biographer Brian Aberback


By Lucas McPherson

Brian Aberback is a freelance music writer who spent 15 years writing for “The Record” newspaper, various magazines and websites. He’s most passionate about the hard rock and heavy metal genres. His first book with Enslow Publishers, “Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal (An Unauthorized Rockography),” was published in 2012.

Do you remember how old you were when you heard your first Black Sabbath song?

I was 10 or 11

What song was it?

“Iron Man”

What stood out about it—to etch it in your memory? Was it the great melody? The lyrics? Or a combination of both?

It’s funny, I actually heard the beginning of the song in the context of professional wrestling. I was a wrestling fanatic and would watch Georgia Championship Wrestling on the Turner Network every Saturday night. When The Road Warriors came on the scene they entered the ring to this awesome, evil sounding intro. I later found out that it was the beginning chord sequence to Iron Man and bought “Paranoid” on cassette. What stood out for me about “Iron Man,” and all the songs on “Paranoid,” was the combination of the heaviest and most memorable riffs I’d ever heard and the interesting lyrics that covered everything from war to fairies who danced in their boots.

Who’s your favorite Black Sabbath frontman (singer)? And why?

Without question Ozzy Osbourne is the voice of Black Sabbath. He sang on all the classic albums. And while I also consider “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules” to be excellent records and Dio one of the best metal singers in history, Ozzy’s distinct style and showmanship will always make him the quintessential Sabbath singer.

Do you think of Tony Iommi as the frontman, too—though a guitarist?

In the Ozzy era I thought of Ozzy and Iommi having a relationship similar to David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen. I don’t know if Iommi’s classic riffs would be heard around the world if not for having a singer like Ozzy. Likewise, Ozzy may not have become so well-known if not for having such a powerful band behind him. It works the same way with Roth and Van Halen. Definitely in the mid to late 1980s, I felt Iommi was the focal point of the band. He was the lone original member and often stood in the middle of the stage, with the singer to one side. Visually, it was obvious that the guitarist was the front man.

Do you plan on writing another “rockography” anytime soon? If so, then on which band next?

I hope so. There are so many great bands to choose from. I would love to do a book on Iron Maiden or Rush.

Where can Target Audience Magazine readers go to pick up a copy of your “Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal?”

The book is available on the Internet anywhere books are sold (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc.) and through a link on my website,

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