Ozzy sues for Black Sabbath trademark. So what's more important — The Frontman or The Riff?

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Black Sabbath - Ozzy Osbourne vs Tony Iommi


Did Beavis & Butthead sing, "Has he lost his mind?/ Can he see or is he blind?"  Or did they grunt "DUH DUH DUH-DUH-DUH!/ DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA DUH DUH DUH!"  Edge: IOMMI.


Led Zeppelin - Robert Plant vs Jimmy Page


A considerably tougher debate than Ozzy/Iommi.  Page brought perhaps more memorable riffs and melodies to the table as Iommi (hell, a guitar debate between Page and Iommi would be pretty difficult!).  Plant possessed charisma and vocal talent Ozzy lacked.  I'm gonna have to cop-out on this one.  Edge: EVEN.


AC/DC - Bon Scott/Brian Johnson vs Angus Young


If a classic riff slipped through the cracks between Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page, Angus Young caught it and turned out awesome albums with different talented, yet somewhat interchangable frontmen.  Edge: YOUNG.



Guns 'n' Roses - Axl Rose vs Slash


Two words: Chinese Democracy.  Edge: SLASH.


Judas Priest - Rob Halford vs Glenn Tipton & K.K. Downing


Following Sabbath's emergence, Priest's innovative dual guitar attack was the next step in the evolution of heavy metal.  But as great as Tipton and Downing are, look what happened when Halford and his incredible vocal range left the band.  Priest made two forgettable albums with a former tribute-band singer and inspired a putrid film.  Halford took the Painkiller magic with him and made Fight's War of Words and his solo album Resurrection.  Plus, it's hard to argue with someone nicknamed "Metal God."  Edge: HALFORD.


I could think of more singer vs. guitarist matchups all day.  Do you disagree with my choices, or think up your own interesting frontman/guitarist dichotomy?  Post a comment!


Black Sabbath "Black Sabbath" from Ozzy's Live & Loud (1993)


Few names resonate more with heavy metal fans than Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath.  Interestingly enough, Ozzy's time in the band represents only a small portion of Sabbath's legacy.  Black Sabbath now has forty years and 18 albums under its belt.  Ozzy was around for eight albums, and two of them are so awful they damage his own legacy and justify his termination from the group in 1979.  Drummer Bill Ward and bassist/lyricist Terrence "Geezer" Butler left and rejoined before bolting for good in 1984.  Through all the substance abuse, through turbulent, revolving door lineups, and through parts of five decades - only guitarist Tony Iommi remained.

Why then is Ozzy Osbourne suing Tony Iommi for ownership of the 'Black Sabbath' trademark?  And why now?  Ozzy's statement:

"It is with great regret that I had to resort to legal action against my long-term partner Tony Iommi, but after three years of trying to resolve this issue amicably, I feel I have no other recourse.

"As of the mid-1990s, after constant and numerous changes in band members, the brand of 'BLACK SABBATH' was literally in the toilet and Tony Iommi (touring under the name BLACK SABBATH) was reduced to performing in clubs.

First of all, ten bucks says that's not Ozzy's statement - it's his harpy mouthpiece wife, Sharon's. 

Secondly, listening to a Black Sabbath album - whether a legendary Ozzy- or Dio-fronted LP, or the easily forgotten Tony Martin - there's no doubt for a second who stars.  Ozzy's vocals rarely deviated from directly following Iommi's riffs!

If Ozzy wants to argue about legacy, he should pop in a DVD of The Osbournes and look inward - or better yet, at his wife.

The Black Sabbath lawsuit made me wonder about other great bands - not just in heavy metal, but over all of rock and roll - where similar debates may rage. 

What's more important?  The Frontman or The Riff?  The debates and classic Sabbath video after the jump.

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