10 Artists Who Shamelessly Ripped Off Black Sabbath

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It’s nearly impossible to play heavy metal and not be influenced by Black Sabbath. Most of the genre’s groundwork came the minute Tony Iommi played his first demented riffs on their first album.

Sabbath might be a mainstay of metal, but some bands have taken a piece of their catalog along the way.

Although every one of these acts counts Sabbath as an influence, that influence went a bit too far. 

Even if these acts wrote classics, both their aesthetic and style of music wouldn’t be here without Sabbath playing it first.  From a lick to a vocal melody, these acts went so far as to take certain Sabbath songs and recreate them in their own image. 

This isn’t exclusive to just metal either, with some mainstream bands taking Iommi’s licks for themselves. 

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this kind of flattery might hold up in court.


Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality paved the way for stoner rock. When it comes to Sleep’s music, there’s no denying that Sabbath is their foundation. 

On every one of Sleep’s albums, the band takes cues from Sabbath’s sludgy side, songs like “Dopesmoker” is the sound of Tony Iommi’s guitar carried out for an entire project. Out of every other Sabbath fan, Sleep are 100% in on their own joke here. 

On their latest album The Sciences, they included different references in the music and lyrics, from mentioning Iommi’s “Marijuananaut’s Theme” to making a dad joke out of Geezer Butler’s name on “Giza Butler.” Sabbath might have their fans, but Sleep goes beyond just casual fans. These records worship at the altar of Tony Iommi.


Metallica was never shy about paying tribute to Sabbath. 

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Metallica served as Ozzy’s backing band when he performed “Paranoid.” If you listen to their first riffs, you can tell how some of Metallica’s classics started. Although James Hetfield came up with “Seek and Destroy,” the opening lick sounds suspiciously close to Sabbath’s “Hole in the Sky.” 

Metallica were definitely fans of that song since they eventually covered it themselves. The real case goes to the main lick of “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which is taken from the ending solo to “Fairies Wear Boots.” 

Since Metallica’s classics come from this era, this could be a case of unconscious borrowing. As thrash came into its own though, Metallica didn’t need to rely on their influences to turn in classic licks. 

Black Flag 

When Sabbath debuted, they were looked at as a band for outsiders. As Henry Rollins put it, “Sabbath fans are the lonely stoners that sit out in the cold at the party because they either aren’t allowed in or don’t want to be in the party.” 

Though Black Flag always held Sabbath in high esteem, it wasn’t until My War that Sabbath’s influence shined through. As music journalist Michael Azzerad noticed, “Black Flag came into town playing this slowed down heavy music obviously influenced by Sabbath. That turned everyone’s head around. 

Because then you could be really slow and heavy.” When crisscrossing the globe, Black Flag’s My War tour also influenced the Seattle scene in the ‘90s. Although Black Flag held onto their punk ethic, they provided the bridge between punk, metal, and grunge. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Of all the adjectives that describe Black Sabbath, funky isn’t one of them. 

Although Sabbath has its roots in blues, the Red Hot Chili Peppers found a riff that fit in with their funk sound. While “Give It Away” stands as one of their best songs, the outro guitar lick is a direct quote from “Sweet Leaf,” with the same exact notes used. 

Despite being the kings of funk, guitarist John Frusciante was a huge Sabbath fan and admitted to still using their ideas on the album Stadium Arcadium as well. The end of “Give It Away” was designed to sound heavy, but using an Iommi lick to get heavy is practically a cheat code in the world of rock.

Via Music Radar


Glenn Danzig will be the first one to tell you that he loves Black Sabbath. Danzig mentioned being an early fan of Sabbath before the Misfits started saying “I turned everybody in my neighborhood on to Black Sabbath. I pulled out the first Sabbath record and I was like, “This thing has to be good. The cover is the most satanic thing you’ve ever seen. I’m buying this record.” 

When Danzig formed his namesake band Danzig, the song “Am I Demon” took a few pages from Master of Reality. From the shuffling rhythm to the guitar stabs, this song is a rewrite of “Children of the Grave,” albeit with more of a punk edge. 

This was around the time that Danzig was slowly transitioning from punk to metal. If he wanted to show his chops, it’s never a bad idea to bring Sabbath into the mix. 

Via Revolver


Sabbath has had a hand in every single metal band that came after it. 

Though bands might hide their influence, Tobias Forge isn’t shy about his Sabbath worship. When asked about Ghost’s influences, Tobias Forge mentioned wanting to pick up where Sabbath left off saying, “ I’ve listened to Black Sabbath for almost as long as I can remember, and I want Ghost to be a lot like a band like Black Sabbath – what they were when they made, in my opinion, their best records, in the mid-’70s. Very experimental, very progressive, very brave.” 

While Forge mentioned taking a few cues from Sabbath, his goal is to be as ambitious as they were in their prime. If you look at Ghost’s style of music, this is what Black Sabbath would have sounded like if they took the Satanic angle a bit more seriously. 

Via Ultimate Guitar 

Kanye West 

Heavy metal doesn’t have any genre boundaries. 

The world of Sabbath had been a part of many genres, and Kanye West took a classic Sabbath tune for one of his hits. In the middle of his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West interpolated the melody for “Iron Man” for the song “Hell of a Life.” Although the distortion on the guitars is a little different, Ye just sings the iconic guitar riff and adds a little extension to it to fill out the rest of the verse. 

That wasn’t the last time West dipped his toes into metal either. For his tour behind Yeezus, he hijacked Metallica’s iconic font for the tour logo. While the font might have been an homage, there’s no questioning how the germ of this song came about.


Of all the core grunge bands, Soundgarden was in tune with metal from the beginning.  

Though Chris Cornell channeled his inner Robert Plant, Dave Grohl mentioned Sabbath being a key part of their sound. When talking about their music, Grohl had said that the band blended elements of Sabbath into their biggest hits saying, “I heard ‘Black Hole Sun’ and thought ‘this is going to be huge.’Because it had parts of the Beatles and Black Sabbath. A lot of grunge bands sounded like that but no one ever paired it together that well until that song.”

Though Soundgarden loved Sabbath, they kept their influences at arm’s length as well. When they first jammed, Kim Thayil mentioned that their mission statement was to “be Black Sabbath but without the parts that suck.”

David Bowie

David Bowie always liked to mix genres on his albums. Even though he debuted a few years before Sabbath, he kept his ear close to the ground on The Man Who Sold the World. 

Despite the image on the album cover, Bowie toyed with heavy metal with riffs that sounded like Sabbath on “The Width of a Circle.” In the years since its release, the record has been compared to Sabbath for its switch in the direction towards metal music. 

Although this was pleasing to hard rock fans, Bowie wasn’t planning to stay in this lane for much longer. Then again, the thought of Bowie and Iommi trading musical ideas remains one of rock’s greatest ‘what-ifs.’

Via The Words and Music of David Bowie 

Van Halen

Sabbath was a different beast by the late ‘70s. 

While the new guard was about to take their place, Geezer Butler mentioned Van Halen taking a few cues from their sound. As the tour went on, Butler mentioned noticing something familiar during VH’s shows saying, 

Eddie’s guitar solos were getting longer, David Lee Roth was copying everything that Ozzy would do, and the bass player Michael Anthony even started using a wah pedal – at a time when I was the only bass player that had ever used a wah pedal. By the time we went on stage, people were like, ‘Oh, I’ve already seen all this.’” 

While Van Halen may have loved Sabbath, this tour was the moment where they started to break. It’s one thing to copy Sabbath on record, but it takes guts to rip them off right to their faces. 

Via Eruption: The Van Halen Story 

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