Joe Satriani Recalls His First Black Sabbath Show That Ended With A Disaster

During a recent conversation with Planet Rock, Joe Satriani recalled the first time he watched Black Sabbath live in the early 1970s. The show was extremely chaotic as the band performed for less than an hour, which led to a riot among the audience. Regardless of everything that had happened that day, Satriani said it was the best concert he had attended.

Joe Satriani is often considered a highly technical guitarist by many music critics. Moreover, he has been referred to as a top guitar virtuoso which makes sense considering the musicians that influenced him, such as Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page. The rocker was also inspired by guitar players from other genres, such as jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth.

While not many would imagine Satriani to be a big fan of a band like Black Sabbath, the guitarist has admired the heavy metal band from the early days of his music career. In fact, Satriani credited Tony Iommy for shaping his musical direction and once covered the band’s iconic song ‘Paranoid’ with other fellow musicians, including Steve Vai and Geoff Tate.

Joe Satriani reflected on the first time he saw Black Sabbath live on stage during a recent interview. The guitarist said that Lynyrd Skynyrd, who opened the show, was excellent. He continued by stating that he is a massive fan of Black Sabbath and played their songs with his high school band, which is why he was very excited to see the band on stage.

However, Satriani realized that the band wasn’t coming on stage as time passed. Because the audience ran out of patience after over an hour, they started setting fire using their clothes. In the middle of all the chaos that included fires and shouting fans, firefighters came in to extinguish the fires, resulting in Satriani getting covered with white foam.

Although many would regret even going to the show considering what he went through, Satriani actually thought it was the best show he had ever attended at the time. After waiting for a very long time, Black Sabbath eventually showed up on stage and explained that the frontman Ozzy Osbourne had caught a cold, which didn’t satisfy their fans’ expectations. Thus, they started booing the band and throwing things on stage.

About the Black Sabbath concert, Satriani said:

“The place is sold out. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s opening up, they were great, by the way. After they play, there’s like an hour and a half, and there’s no Black Sabbath, and the kids are going crazy. Now I’m standing on the floor with the lead singer in my high school band, and we love Sabbath. We’ve been playing Sabbath, listening to Sabbath since the very beginning, and we’re dying to see this thing happen. But they’re not coming out.

As New Yorkers do, they get a little upset that things don’t go their way. So, they decide to somehow start bonfires on the floor. So, we’re standing there, and we’re looking around, we’re going, ‘There are fires! What’s happening?!’ People are taking off their winter coats, and they’re setting them on fire in these big piles, and then the people that are sitting in the stands are throwing stuff, anything that they don’t want, and they’re just screaming for Black Sabbath.”

He continued:

“The fire marshals come out, they turn on all the bright lights, and they start spraying fire retardant on us. I mean, I got covered in this white foam. But I have to say we’re like, ‘Yeah! This is like the best concert ever!’ And then, of course, Black Sabbath eventually comes out, and it turns out Ozzy’s got a cold, and he’s being very apologetic to the audience, ‘I’m really sorry, I just can barely talk.’ People are booing him and throwing things on the stage.”

You can watch Joe Satriani’s performance of ‘Paranoid’ below.