The Big Issue : Edition 509
34 THEBIGISSUE8–21APR2016 IN JANUARY, HEAVY-metal progenitors Black Sabbath kicked off the first leg of what are purportedly their last- ever shows. Audaciously billed as “the final tour by the greatest metal band of all time”, The End sees the group attempting to complete a musical journey nearly half-a -century in the making. But is this really the end of the line for one of rock’s most celebrated acts? Or is it merely a cynical marketing ploy by three ageing rock stars who will renege on their retirement in a year’s time for a well-paid reunion? History is certainly not on Black Sabbath’s side, with plenty of rock acts proving that retirement doesn’t always stick. In 2000, everyone’s favourite makeup-wearing rockers, KISS, launched their farewell tour. Except it wasn’t. Frontman Paul Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons decided that they didn’t really want to quit after all. Since then, they have recorded two albums and done 10 major tours. Much closer to home for Black Sabbath, frontman Ozzy Osbourne also has a history of less-than-final farewell tours. On the back of his hugely successful sixth solo record, No More Tears (1991), Osbourne announced that his next tour – dubbed ‘No More Tours’ – would be his last, so that he could spend more time at home with his family. This lasted less than three years, with Osbourne declaring that he changed his mind because “retirement sucks”. He has gone on to release another five solo albums, star in two reality TV shows and create his own festival, Ozzfest (which he has toured with on 10 separate occasions). Looking at the other side of the ledger, however, there is plenty of evidence to support the notion that Black Sabbath might be telling the truth. First and foremost is their collective poor health. Guitarist Tony Iommi, largely credited with creating the heavy metal sound after severely injuring two fingers in a factory accident at the age of 17, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2012. Although his treatment has reportedly been going well, Iommi has admitted that his body can no longer take the rigours of prolonged touring. In fact, The End has already seen several dates cancelled due to the ill health of Osbourne. Although notorious in the 1970s and 80s for his on-the- AND IN THE FIFTH DECADE, BLACK SABBATH RESTED. OR WILL THEY? BLACK SABBATICAL?