Black Sabbath: The making of Paranoid

Front cover

Paranoid is the second studio album by the English hard rock band Black Sabbath. Released in September 1970, it was the band's only album to top the UK Albums Chart until the release of 13 in 2013. Paranoid contains several of the band's best-known signature songs, including "Iron Man", "War Pigs" and the title track. The album has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.


To capitalise on the chart success of their debut album in February 1970, Black Sabbath returned to the studio in June 1970, again with producer Rodger Bain, just four months after Black Sabbath was released. The album was recorded at Regent Sound Studios and Island Studios in London, England. The new album was originally intended to be called Warpiggers which was a slang term for a black magic wedding. It was then shortened to War Pigs, which was critical of the Vietnam War and eventually Paranoid after the record company became convinced that the song of the same name had potential as a single. The record company deciding the album would be easier to sell if it was named after the single, which had already had significant success by the time the album was released, reaching number 4 on the UK Singles Chart, remaining Black Sabbath's only top ten hit. The track "Paranoid" was written in the studio at the last minute. As Bill Ward explains: "We didn't have enough songs for the album, and Tony just played the Paranoid guitar lick and that was it. It took twenty, twenty-five minutes from top to bottom." The single was released in September 1970. The album followed in the UK in October 1970, where, pushed by the success of the "Paranoid" single, it made number one in the charts. 


The US release was held until January 1971, as the Black Sabbath album was still on the charts at the time of Paranoid's UK release. The album reached No.12 in the US in March 1971, and would go on to sell four million copies in the US, with virtually no radio airplay. Like Black Sabbath, the album was panned by rock critics of the era, but modern-day reviewers such as Allmusic's Steve Huey cite Paranoid as "one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time", which "defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history". The album is currently ranked at No.131 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Paranoid's chart success allowed the band to tour the US for the first time in October 1970, which spawned the release of the album's second single "Iron Man". Although the single failed to reach the top 40, "Iron Man" remains one of Black Sabbath's most popular songs, as well as the band's highest charting US single. "Iron Man" was originally entitled "Iron Bloke". Upon hearing the main guitar riff for the first time, Ozzy Osbourne remarked that it sounded "like a big iron bloke walking around". The title was later changed to "Iron Man" as bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler composed the lyrics. Paranoid is Black Sabbath's best selling album, selling over 4 million copies in the US.

Iron Man

The original UK vinyl release was in a gatefold sleeve. The inner of the gatefold sleeve had a black-and-white photo of the band, posed outdoors on a grassy hill, and was the band's first appearance on album artwork. To spread the original picture over the gatefold, Ozzy Osbourne was separated from the other members of the band and a section of the grass was copied and dropped into the gap. The album cover features a man in red with a sword. In the decades succeeding its initial distribution, Paranoid has been regarded by many as Black Sabbath's best album, and by some the best heavy metal album of all time. 

Inner gatefold sleeve

Hand of Doom

Track listing

1. War Pigs
2. Paranoid
3. Planet Caravan
4. Iron Man
5. Electric Funeral
6. Hand of Doom
7. Rat Salad
8. Fairies Wear Boots


Black Sabbath:
Ozzy Osbourne–vocals
Tony Iommi–guitar, flute
Geezer Butler–bass guitar
Bill Ward–drums, congas

Additional personnel:
Tom Allom – engineering, piano on "Planet Caravan"
Rodger Bain – production
Brian Humphries – engineering
Marcus Keef – graphic design, photography

This is the Classic Albums documentary on the making of the Paranoid album.