With Black Sabbath back in the spotlight after their stellar performance in the Closing Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, there are now calls for a more permanent tribute to Birmingham to honor the band and the city’s musical heritage.
Birmingham’s Home of Metal project director has called for a permanent exhibition or Black Sabbath museum to be set up in the city to honor iconic hometown heroes.
Lisa Meyer is the director of Capsule, the organizers of the Home of Metal community project which staged hugely successful Black Sabbath exhibitions in 2011 and 2019. The 2019 exhibition, which honored Birmingham’s influence on the heavy metal genre by producing a three-month exhibition program. and activities at six venues across the city, including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, attracted 24,000 paying visitors from 52 countries around the world.
After Black Sabbath’s performance at the Closing Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games – and with City MPs calling for Ozzy Osbourne to be given a knighthood – Lisa thinks it’s time Sabbath had its own tribute permanent in Birmingham.
The birthplace of heavy metal
Birmingham is often considered the birthplace of heavy metal, having spawned some of the genre’s pioneers including Sabbath, Napalm Death and Judas Priest. Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin is also from West Bromwich, along with the band’s drummer John Bonham born in Redditch. It’s clear that the West Midlands have had a huge influence on heavy metal and rock and roll, which is why Lisa thinks it’s time for Brum to really embrace its musical history.
Talk toBirminghamWorld, she said: “We have all these incredible innovators of the heavy metal genre in Birmingham. in 2011, the city council declared that the exhibition we organized was the most successful cultural project in the region other than the visit of the pope.
Ahead of the 2019 exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Lisa was invited to LA to meet Sharon Osbourne and Bill Ward, and she also met Sabbath guitarist Tommy Iommi in the UK to prepare for the exhibition. Fans traveled to the city to see rare items from the band. Items include Ozzy Osbourne’s signature glasses and crucifix, part of Bill Ward’s drum kit used in the 1974 Cal Jam, in which Black Sabbath performed in front of 250,000 people, Tony Iommi’s home studio and outfits worn on stage at some of the band’s most legendary shows. , including the one worn by Geezer Butler during a concert at Birmingham Town Hall.
The project was a huge success.
“For the exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, we had 24,000 visitors. So there’s no doubt that we’ve proven there’s an audience for it. People will flock to come and pay their respects to the group. And it’s constantly evolving, it’s not something that happened 50 years ago,” Lisa said.
“What comes from the Sabbath? you think of the heavy metal scenes in places like Indonesia, India and Brazil – metal is massive and it’s constantly evolving so it’s something we really should claim and we don’t have it yet do. That’s my goal – to see how we can do that and create something permanent for fans to come and visit.
“I think it’s really important that the city create some kind of honor not just for Ozzy but for the whole band – it’s really important that they be recognized because in many ways they’re bigger than the city and it is up to the city to recognize the notoriety they have brought.
She added: “I know it’s a cliché, but you look at Liverpool and how they celebrate the Beatles, you look at Manchester and how they celebrate Joy Division and the other bands. There’s such a great music scene here, but there’s no confidence to shout about what we’ve given to the world, and it’s not the lack of talent, it’s the lack of confidence to celebrate that talent.
“There should be a museum to honor the group”
Lisa says there should be a permanent exhibition or heavy metal museum set up in the future to celebrate Birmingham’s contribution to music, and this is something the band Home of Metal have been working on for several years.
She said: “We’ve done a lot of research, and it’s something we really want to achieve, but we need the city to work with us because I think for cultural tourism it would be such a valuable thing. for the city in terms of economic regeneration, and you think of all the empty spaces we have in the city, and I also believe that’s a catalyst for business.
“I think Sabbath playing at the Closing Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games shows that you’re so much more than your die-hard fan, and Sabbath is adored by the Brummies and the whole world isn’t it. To me that has to to be a museum of the future and it’s not just about telling the story, but also looking into the future and what’s happening.
Lisa says media coverage of the exhibits was £3.3m across major TV, radio and print outlets including the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV.
Black Sabbath fan Helen Maidiotis has started a petition for Ozzy to be granted a knighthood and says the band deserves permanent honor in the city. She said: “They deserve to be honored to be the sons of Birmingham. Black Sabbath put Birmingham on the map as they pioneered metal. Without them, most of today’s bands wouldn’t have existed or had the success they have today without them. The music industry owes them so much.
What has the Birmingham Museum said about a permanent tribute to the band?
The museum has confirmed that although there are currently no plans in place to honor the band, when the museum reopens in 2024 Birmingham’s musical heritage could become part of the museum’s gallery and exhibition spaces.
A museum spokeswoman said: “There are currently no permanent plans to honor Ozzy. However, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will be closing again in a few weeks while we continue our electrical work.
“While we are closed, we will be overhauling all of our galleries and exhibition spaces. It’s too early to say what the museum will look like when it reopens in 2024, but I’m sure Birmingham’s musical heritage, including heavy metal, will be part of that conversation.
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