How a nuclear safety inspector made an album with 10 members of Black Sabbath

Emerald Sabbath
Emerald Sabbath - Ninth Star

Embryo
Die Young
Fluff
Trashed
Stonehenge
She's Gone
In For The Kill
Orchid
Hole In The Sky
Changes
Supertzar

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Michael Suilleabhain is not your regular Black Sabbath nut. Not content with watching the band live on multiple occasions (Michael's grand total is 83 shows, witnessing every possible permutation of the band with the exception of that fronted briefly in the mid-1980s by Ray Gillen), he's gone a step further, organising the recording of a tribute album featuring multiple former members, combining his love for Birmingham's finest with another passion. 

"I also have a great passion for classical music," says Michael, a nuclear construction safety inspector based in Bristol. "In May 2015 I decided to mix both of them. Adam Wakeman was the first to contribute to the project, with keyboards on Changes, and then it snowballed into this final product."

The end result is Ninth Star, which is released on February 15 and available for pre-order now. As well as Wakeman, it features a number of musicians who've contributed to the Sabbath canon over the years.

"I decided to re-record Black Sabbath tracks and instrumentals with as many as ex-members of Black Sabbath as possible," says Michael. "A lot of the artists also played on the originals, such as Vinny Appice, who joined Sabbath on drums for the Heaven And Hell tour, and The English Chamber Choir on Supertzar). I then brought in a string quartet along with various classical players."

The first track to emerge from the album is She's Gone, which originally featured on Sabbath's 1976 album Technical Ecstasy. The new recording features Dave Walker, who replaced Ozzy Osbourne briefly in late 1978 – and also fronted Idle Race, Savoy Brown and Fleetwood Mac – with Neil Murray on bass.

The full line-up of former Sabbath members who contributed to the album is as follows, along with their tenures. 

  • Adam Wakeman: keyboards, additional guitars (2004–2006, 2012–2017 [touring member])
  • Bev Bevan: drums (1983–1984, 1987)
  • Neil Murray: bass (1989–1991, 1994–1997)
  • Terry Chimes: drums (1987)
  • Laurence Cottle: bass (1988–1989)
  • Ron Keel: vocals (for about three days in 1987)
  • Vinny Appice: drums (1980–1982, 1991–1993, 1998, 2006–2010 as Heaven & Hell)
  • Dave Walker: vocals (late 1978–early 1979)
  • Bobby Rondinelli: drums (1993–1994, 1995–1997) 
  • Tony Martin: vocals (1987–1991, 1993–1997) 

Emerald Sabbath

L-R Neil Murray (bass), Mike Exeter (engineer), Michael Suilleabhain, Bev Bevan (drums)

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be able to do this," says Michael. But my persistence paid off. I would like to thank all the ex-Black Sabbath guys for helping me with this, as well as the former Black Sabbath graphic designers, string arrangers and producers. I hope that everyone will enjoy this album.”

Ninth Star is available to pre-order now.

Ninth Star - full cast

Embryo
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards
Bev Bevan: Percussion
Laurence Cottle: Bass
Anneka Sutcliffe: Violin
Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet

Die Young
Ron Keel: Vocals
Vinny Appice: Drums
Rudy Sarzo: Bass
DC Cothern: Guitar
Pete Rinaldi: Guitar
Ellen Morgan: Keyboards

Fluff
Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet
Ardeton String Quartet
Pete Rinaldi: Guitar

Trashed
Ron Keel: Vocals
Vinny Appice: Drums
Bev Bevan: Percussion
Laurence Cottle: Bass
Pete Rinaldi: Guitar

Stonehenge
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards
Laurence Cottle: Bass
Pete Rinaldi: Guitar
Sarah Tobias: Flute

She's Gone
Dave Walker: Vocals
Bill Dwyer: Guitars
Neil Murray: Bass
Chris Cundy: Keyboards
Steve Owers: Drums
Ardeton String Quartet
Lisa Ljungberg: Backing Vocals

In For The Kill
Tony Martin: Vocals
Laurence Cottle: Bass
Bobby Rondinelli: Drums
Pete Rinaldi: Guitars
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards

Orchid
Neil Murray: Bass
Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet
Ardeton String Quartet
Pete Rinaldi: Guitar

Hole In The Sky
Ron Keel: Vocals
Bobby Rondinelli: Drums
Laurence Cottle: Bass
Pete Rinaldi: Guitar

Changes
Michael Suilleabhain: Vocals
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards
Laurence Cottle: Bass
Bev Bevan: Percussion
Queenie May: Backing Vocals
Annela Sutcliffe: Violin
Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet

Supertzar
English Chamber Choir
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards
Terry Chimes: Drums
Laurence Cottle: Bass
Pete Rinaldi: Guitar
Skaila Kanja: Harp
Elen Morgan: Glockenspiel

Emerald Sabbath - Nonth Star