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MPs ask the Queen to honour Black Sabbath’s “great contribution” to music

Numerous MPs have signed an open letter following Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi's surprise appearance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

By Tom Skinner

Black Sabbath performing live on-stage in 2013
Black Sabbath perform live. CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

MPs are calling on the Queen to acknowledge Black Sabbath’s “great contribution” to British music in a new open letter.

It comes after the iconic group’s members Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Tony Iommi reunited for a surprise performance of  ‘Paranoid’ at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, which took place in their hometown of Birmingham earlier this month.

Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, posted the letter to Queen Elizabeth II on Twitter last Thursday (August 11). “I am humbly requesting Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II @RoyalFamily to bestow and honour to @BlackSabbath for their services to music,” he captioned the tweet.

The letter has been signed by six other MPs, including Jess Phillips, and the leader and deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward and Brigid Jones respectively.

“Please forgive the direct nature of this letter. We, the undersigned humble subjects, humbly ask you to bestow an honour on the Black Sabbath rock group, who were formed in Birmingham in 1968 by guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne,” it reads.

“They are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), ‘Paranoid’ (1970), and Master of Reality (1971).”

Mahmood continued: “Following the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, which took place in my Birmingham Perry Barr constituency, I have been inundated with requests that Black Sabbath be recognised for its services to music and to the City of Birmingham.

“I appreciate this request is not within the normal procedures of seeking Royal honours, however, we feel that this extraordinary occasion deserves extraordinary recognition of this extraordinary group of musicians. The band’s services to music seem to have been overlooked by the usual process.”

The letter added: “We therefore seek direct intervention and support from Your Majesty to recognise the great contribution made by these fine and ground-breaking musicians, who were made in Birmingham and who have once again not just entertained Birmingham, the United Kingdom and the whole of the Commonwealth, but perhaps the world.”

Additionally, Mahmood has launched a petition in a bid to “bestow an honour on the Black Sabbath rock group”. At the time of writing, 296 people have signed the form – you can find it here.

Osbourne and Iommi appeared alongside drummer Tommy Clufetos and bassist Adam Wakeman at last week’s Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. At the end of the performance, Osbourne said: “I love you, Birmingham – it’s good be back!”

The pair formed Black Sabbath with bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward in Birmingham in 1968, and released a string of heavy metal-defining albums together until 1979 when the group dismissed Osbourne. They reunited several times over the years and concluded a farewell tour, The End, at the city’s Genting Arena in early 2017.

Ozzy Osbourne released his twelfth solo album, Ordinary Man, in February 2020, and is due to put out a new studio effort, Patient Number 9, on September 9. He’s set to showcase the upcoming record on a UK headline tour in May/June 2023.