Flashback: Black Sabbath Unleash 'War Pigs' in 1970 - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Black Sabbath Unleash ‘War Pigs’ in 1970

Watch them play anti-war classic at the height of their powers

Nobody knows exactly where and when this incredible 1970 Black Sabbath TV broadcast was taped. For many years bootlegs have claimed it was recorded on December 20th, 1970 at the Olympia in Paris, but knowledgable fans have pointed out the venue is way too small to be that theater. Some think it might be from Belgium in October of that year, but it’s very hard to say for sure. 

It hardly matters. The pro-shot video captures Black Sabbath at the absolute peak of their powers. Paranoid presumably had only been on shelves for a matter of months (or even weeks), and the material is still fresh and shocking. Within a few years drugs, infighting and ego would start tearing the band apart, and the work suffered immeasurably. 

“We’ve got a number now called ‘War Pigs,'” Ozzy says midway through the show. “It’s a number off our new LP. Hope you like it, thank you.” They proceed to tear though a nearly eight-minute version of the song that is absolutely explosive. Interestingly, the second and third stanzas of the song differs from the recorded version, perhaps providing evidence this show was cut before they finished the song in the studio in June of 1970. 

Pay attention to Bill Ward’s drumming on the song. It’s absolutely amazing, proving how vital he is to their sound. It’s a tragedy that a lame business dispute kept him off the road this summer. If he’s not playing drums on the new album and tour, the whole project will be tainted. So many classic bands are forced to tour today with partial lineups because members have died. Tony Iommi had a cancer scare this year, but he seems to be on the road to recovery. The band is exceedingly lucky all four members are alive and in playing shape. Imagine if Keith Moon were alive but he wasn’t touring with the Who because they couldn’t agree how to split the money. It would be the height of insanity, and an insult to the fans.  

The Sabbath camp should also put this “Paris” show out on DVD. It would be even more amazing with cleaned-up sound and picture. 

In This Article: Black Sabbath


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