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Arts & Music

Ozzy Osbourne leading revived Sabbath into Tampa

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Published:   |   Updated: July 25, 2013 at 08:04 AM

It's a month later, and Ozzy Osbourne is still shocked. It's not because he finally made it into the studio to record "13," his first album with Black Sabbath since 1978's "Never Say Die," but because the June release shot to the top of the charts, giving one of the most famous and pioneering bands in the world their first No. 1 in the U.S., 40-plus years after they started.

"I'm still kind of pinching myself like I'm going to wake up and it's all been a dream, because had this happened in 1972 after 'Paranoid,' I'd have gone, 'Oh, yes, OK'," Osbourne said during a telephone news conference to promote Sabbath's North American tour, which kicked off Thursday in Houston. "But now after 45 years up the road, and we get our first number one, it's kind of a hard thing to swallow... I don't know. It never ceases to amaze me and surprise me, this business. I don't know the answer to (why). I mean, it's just great, isn't it?"

The album, produced by Rick Rubin, almost didn't happen. Original Sabbath drummer Bill Ward dropped out of the project over a reported contract dispute. Then, guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with cancer before recording started.

But Sabbath pushed on. Ward was replaced by Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk, and the band switched to a studio near Iommi's home in England so he could get treatment while still recording.

"I know firsthand from my wife that treatment for cancer is not like doing a line of coke and going to the disco," Osbourne said. "I'd go, 'Tony, you're sure you're OK to do this, man, are you ready?' And he goes, 'No I'll do it.' ... He came up with the goods."

Sometimes, things just click. Osbourne said making "13" was totally different than the last time Sabbath tried making a new album in the early 2000s, an attempt that was ultimately aborted after some songs were already recorded.

"There's no magic - it just happens or it doesn't. I wasn't really into it. They weren't really into it, and you can't force it. It either comes or it doesn't," Osbourne said. "I said before in the press that the reunion album was going to have to be something special, the most important album of my career."

The new album means the tour features Sabbath performing new material live for the first time in decades. When they play the MidFlorida Amphitheatre in Tampa on Monday, Osbourne said, they'll mix new songs such as "God is Dead?" with classics like "Iron Man" and "War Pigs." The 64-year-old singer said his voice is ready to go.

"I personally, specifically went in the studio and kept it a little comfortable range that I could do onstage, you know," Osbourne said. "In the past I've gone in the stratosphere doing trickery in the studio, and I could never pull it off live."

Osbourne laughed off questions about what the future might hold for the seemingly rejuvenated band, and he said people shouldn't read too much into what some have called a bookend to the band's career on "13."

The album ends with the same sound of rain and ominous bells that the first Black Sabbath album opened with.

If the album and tour are the final chapter for the heavy metal godfathers, Osbourne is OK with that.

"I wasn't really happy with the way it ended before, but this album went to number one and it's been received really well all over the world," he said. "I know I can now rest my head and die a happy man."

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