Billy Corgan on discovering Black Sabbath, aged 8: "This is what God sounds like!"

A picture of Billy Corgan performing live with an acoustic guitar
(Image credit: KROQ)

Smashing Pumpkins mainman Billy Corgan has recalled the first time he heard Black Sabbath and the huge impact it had on his life.

Corgan was 8-years-old when he was looking through his uncle's record collection and found Sabbath's 1971 album Master of Reality. As soon as he played it, he knew he had found something special — and he still feels the same way about the record to this day.

He tells KROQ: "My uncle was a drummer. He passed away very young, but he had this cool stereo and a bunch of progressive rock records like Yes and Jethro Tull. And the first record in the pile was Black Sabbath Master of Reality."

Corgan asked his grandmother if he could play the record. Despite her reluctance, she eventually relented.

He adds: “She gave me that look like, ‘I’m gonna get into big trouble from your uncle.' And I talked her into it.

“The first song was Sweet Leaf. You hear the Ozzy cough or whatever, and then that sound comes in. And I was just like, it made me feel as if I was staring into the cosmos or something.

"I don’t know how else to explain other than I felt this kind of sense of agape. Like, ‘Wow, this is what God sounds like.’ So it’s the 8-year-old version of what God sounds like. But I’ve never found anything cooler."

Earlier this year, Black Label Society's Zakk Wylde talked about Sabbath's huge influence on him when he discovered their music as a child. He said: "I had never heard a Sabbath song before in my life.

"So, I put the record on and I was beyond terrified the whole time I listened to the album. I was Catholic when I first put the needle down on it, and halfway through the second LP, I was a full-blown Satanist. And by the end of the album, I converted back to Catholicism just so I could thank God for creating Black Sabbath."

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.