LET’S SPLIT AGAIN LIKE WE DID LAST DECADE

They will go out on a high note after Brit bash this year...

Black Sabbath will split at the end of the year after playing their final shows in the UK.

Just over a year after the original Sabbath line-up of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Terry ‘Geezer’ Butler and Bill Ward reunited (December 1997), the undisputed original heavyweights of rock have finally announced retirement.

The band announced last week that this year’s Ozzfest shows in the US will be billed as ‘The Last Supper’.

Ozzy Osbourne has recently been suffering from problems with his throat which may have affected the decision. Drummer Bill Ward also suffered a heart attack just before their 1998 Milton Keynes gig.

A statement posted on the band’s official website reads: “The invitations are sealed. The table is set. The event of the millennium is being staged once and for all – the last supper for Black Sabbath.”

Formed in 1969 in Birmingham, originally under the name Earth, the band released eight albums with Ozzy Osbourne before firing him for his increasingly difficult behaviour and drunken excess.

They replaced him with Ronnie James Dio in 1979 and, before reuniting with Osbourne in 1997, recruited the services of both Deep Purple‘s Ian Gillan and the lesser-known Tony ‘The Cat’ Martin.

After Ozzy rejoined, the band released the ‘Reunion’ album in 1998 which featured the band’s reunion gig at their hometown of Birmingham and two new studio tracks.

No more new studio material is now likely to be released.

The classic Sabbath line-up has only played three shows in the UK since reforming and record company insiders say the band wants to go out in style after a show back home.

Plans are now underway to host an Ozzfest gig before the end of the year which may include Sabbath‘s final ever performance.

The US line-up of Ozzfest has Sabbath, Rob Zombie, Slayer, Deftones, Primus, Godsmack, System Of A Down, Fear Factory, Hed(pe), Bushmonkey, Buckcherry, Slipknot and Apartment 26 (featuring Bif Butler, son of Geezer).

Sabbath have been playing two new Osbourne/Iommi songs on the tour – they are ‘Psycho Man’ and ‘Selling Your Soul’ – though plans for the reformed line-up to go back into the studio have come to nothing.

A spokesman for the band said: “It’s all been very Spinal Tap-ish really.”

Ozzy is forming a new band for a solo album, Tony Iommi has already been at work on a solo record with Billy Corgan and Skin from Skunk Anansie, amongst others and Bill Ward and Geezer Butler both have solo projects in the pipeline.