Birmingham MPs ask Queen to give Black Sabbath honours after Commonwealth Games performance

The Brummie band who began heavy metal, bit heads off bats and were continually accused of being Satanists could be joining the British establishment.

Brummie boys: Black Sabbath
Brummie boys: Black Sabbath

Birmingham's MPs and the city council leader have written to The Queen asking her to give Black Sabbath honours after their surprise performance at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.

In a letter to the Queen published on Friday (August 12), Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood said: "For all their global fame, they have kept strong links with Birmingham, demonstrated by their barnstorming surprise performance at the closing ceremony of Commonwealth Games."

"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.

"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."

Co-signatures of the letter were Northfield Gary Sambrook (which had been misspelt Sandbrook), Edgbaston MP Preet Gill, Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell, Yardley MP Jess Phillips, Hodge Hill MP Liam Bryne, Ladywood MP Shabeena Mahmood, leader of Birmingham City Council Councillor Ian Ward and deputy leader Councillor Brigid Jones.

The letter ends: "We have the honour to be, Madam, your Majesty's humble and obedient servants."

At their pomp Black Sabbath were anything but humble and obedient. Formed in 1968 in Aston by guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne the band shot to stardom selling millions of records in the early 1970s.

When they took up residence in one of the most expensive hotels in the world in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles, they ignored the expensive wines and spirits on offer and imported kegs of Mild from Birmingham at great expense.

They also did more than just dabble in drugs, their autobiographies revealed they were sniffing huge amounts as they prepared for their fourth albums.

The band first fired Ozzy Osbourne in 1979 and, to the surprise of many in the music industry, with the help of legendary music mogul Don Arden's daughter, Sharon, Ozzy became a superstar.

He sold tens of millions of records in America under his new Prince of Darkness persona but also became infamous for biting a bat's head off on stage and getting arrested for having a wee over American national monument The Alamo.

In the 2002 Ozzy and Sharon, along with children Jack and Kelly, became global stars when the MTV reality show The Osbournes became one of the biggest TV shows of the decade.

Ozzy should be able to count on the support of the future King of England and fellow Villa fan. The heir to the throne was visibly delighted when Ozzy came on to the stage during the Queen's Golden Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2002.

Black Sabbath reformed to perform a series of tours and began getting the plaudits for their success and longevity.

They have a star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars and a special bench was unveiled on Broad Street where fans can pose for selfies with the band. Ozzy was back in Birmingham in 2016 to unveil a brand new tram called Ozzy Osbourne which is still running on the Midlands Metro network.

Black Sabbath fan Kelly Hughes, from Perry Barr, would be "disgusted" if the band accepted any honours from the Queen.

She said: "I would like to think they would tell the Government or the Queen to take any honour and shove it.

"Tony Iommi single handedly started heavy metal, Geezer is a geezer, Bill was a brilliant drummer and Ozzy Osbourne is the best ambassador Birmingham can ever have so Black Sabbath do not need a pat on the back from the Establishment to prove anything. The Birmingham factories they came out of in the 1960s and 1970s could not be any further from Buckingham Palace."

She added: "For all we know, they might have been offered one already and turned it down like David Bowie, Keith Richards, MBEs and OBEs are not very rock n roll are they? Another local lad Benjamin Zephaniah turned them too."

Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah, who grew up on Broadway a few hundred metres from Ozzy Osbourne's family home on Lodge Road, Aston, turned down an OBE from Tony Blair's government because he was "anti-Empire."

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News