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Black Sabbath: Previously Unreleased 1979 ‘Heaven and Hell’ Rehearsal Released by Geoff Nicholls’ Estate

Fin Costello, Getty Images
Fin Costello, Getty Images

A previously unreleased 1979 rehearsal recording of “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath, featuring the late Geoff Nicholls on bass, has now been uploaded courtesy of the late musician’s estate.

Nicholls, who died Jan. 28, 2017, was a longstanding member of Black Sabbath, although his role with the group was a shadowy one. He is credited with performing keyboards on a total of 10 Black Sabbath albums — everything from 1980’s Heaven and Hell through 1995’s Forbidden — and served as a live member who played keyboard and supplemental rhythm guitar offstage.

On this rehearsal recording of the 1980 album’s title track (heard below), Nicholls played bass and it had long been disputed by him that he was the originator of the song’s bass line and a key songwriting contributor, despite never receiving proper credit.

At the time, which was the same year the band had fired original singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler was embroiled in a divorce and had drifted away from band priorities to take care of those domestic matters, prompting Tony Iommi to seek an alternate, especially with the Sabbath’s future uncertain.

A description from the video, which was uploaded by the YouTube channel “Geoff Nichols – Archive,” reads as follows:

Geoff Nicholls passed away 4 years ago, 28th January 2017. This upload is a tribute to him.

I recently found this SONY C-90 tape cassette amongst the thousands in Geoff Nicholls’ archive. On the inlay card is written ‘ ON & ON HEAVEN & HELL ORIGINAL VERSION GEOFF PLAYING BASS.’

Inside the cassette case was a Maxell UD 90.

The B side is written ‘On + On HEAVEN HELL ORIGINAL GEOFF ON BASS’

Nowhere does it say that this is Black Sabbath on the cassette.

On And On Heaven And Hell may have been the original working title.

Listen to this rare recording directly below.

Meanwhile, Black Sabbath’s first two albums in the Ronnie James Dio era — Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules — will enjoy extensive remastered reissues this year with both sets arriving on March 5.

Black Sabbath, “Heaven and Hell” 1979 Rehearsal With Geoff Nicholls on Bass



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