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But a collection of entertainment memorabilia unearthed in London and now on sale in a Sheffield auction on September 30 reflects the more homely side of the Prince of Darkness which was unveiled on reality TV show The Osbournes.

Dating from the period 1968-73, the collection includes a quantity of postcards from Ozzy to his mother in Birmingham written while on tour.

In one rather sweet note from France he writes: “Arrived here safely, but it is not a very nice place, I don’t think the people like long hair.”

On another from Hamburg, he says that they are playing the Star Club, the same club where The Beatles made it “BIG TIME”, adding “so who knows what could happen”.

What did happen is that Black Sabbath made it very much big time, selling 100m records. But time waits for no man – even a robust rocker like Ozzy – and the band are on what they say is their final world tour, aptly called The End.

Their roots lie in the Midlands in 1969, the heartland where rock and blues - and heavy metal - also produced Led Zeppelin.

Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward were looking to escape the drudge of factory work in Birmingham. They formed Earth Blues Company (shortened to Earth) in 1968. Black Sabbath was then born, with the new name taken from an early 1960s Boris Karloff horror film.

The first two albums – Black Sabbath and Paranoid – laid the foundations for so many heavy metal bands to build on with their killer riffs and extreme volume.

Back to Earth

Also in the collection on offer from Sheffield Auction Gallery, recalling the earliest days of the band, are Earth publicity posters, flyers, hand written song lyrics and photographs.

Stephen Flintoft, specialist music valuer and auctioneer at the Sheffield auction house, says: “Perhaps the most interesting item, among so many, is the handwritten lyrics headed 'by Earth' to the song Changing Phases, a title later changed to Solitude, which featured on the 1971 double platinum Black Sabbath album Master of Reality.”

The saleroom say the collection was saved by a Sheffield resident from a property being demolished in the old London Docklands in the 1980s. It is being sold as one lot estimated at £2000-3000.

Ozzy left the band in 1978 to embark on a successful solo career and the usual new band line-up/reunion followed. 

But now it maybe really is The End.