Recording with Dave Donato surfaces

Back in 1984 after Ian Gillan left Black Sabbath to go reform Deep Purple, that left Black Sabbath in a quandry. Tony & Geezer were back at square one basically with no singer, and no drummer, as Bev Bevan was only on board for the Born Again tour. So Bill Ward was coaxed back again, and the search began for another vocalist.
At this point in the band’s history, I was an active fan, so I read a bunch in magazines and whatnot – and while I’ve never claimed to know everything, I’d like to think I know a lot. There was several names tossed around as vocalist replacements at this time – even going so far as to mention David Coverdale and Robert Plant (!). Anyway, some names were more solid back then, those being Ron Keel & Dave Donato. Now Ron Keel by his own admission was’t around long – I have a piece on him in my timeline page on this site. However, Dave Donato is a different story.

All these years, I’ve always been under the impression that Dave Donato was one of these guys who was only around for a couple of weeks. The story has always gone “Dave was picked, was around for a photo op, gave a terrible interview in Kerrang where he acted completely egotistic and was fired”. That’s what I’ve believed for the longest time. However, Garry Sharpe Young put out a book sometime ago called “Black Sabbath: Never Say Die” which is being repackaged with another book now. Anyway, this book goes into extreme detail on the “non Ozzy years” of the band, and talks to several folks who have never really talked about their time in Sabbath much if at all. Dave Donato is one. According to Garry’s book, Dave was involved with the band for about 6 months. Demos were done, but have never surfaced – until now (see below).
I’m probably going to need to rethink some of my timeline page regarding Donato, but in the meantime, Garry has also put a chapter of the book online for you to read now. It’s the David Donato Chapter, and you can check it out here – it’s totally fascinating reading. Also, here’s what Garry says about the demo that is now available:

“I was kindly sent a ton of audio material whilst putting this book together, some fascinating unheard stuff. Because of the pervading interest in those pre-‘Seventh Star’ mystery years, I’ve asked David for his permission to air a portion of this track. Sabbath fans will take about two seconds to recognize it. This is a rehearsal (complete with original tape hiss) recorded in 1985, but the song was later used on an album, with totally different lyrics and melody, much later on. I’m not putting up the other demo songs, approximately half a dozen tracks, because those have not been used yet and, you never know, Tony Iommi might still have a use for those riffs! By the way, please don’t ask — none of this is for trade or sale in any form. It gives a valuable pointer to what Sabbath might possibly have sounded like. The chapter I’ve put online comes after Ron Keel’s audition tape was rejected and before Jeff Fenholt got his shot. It makes for fascinating reading.”

Over at this page at, there’s a streaming only version of one of the Dave Donato samples from these sessions. This is a major new piece of music, as the general public has never heard any of this material before. The song appears to be titled “No Way Out”. However, when you listen to it, the music is what was later known as “The Shining”. Tony has said before that the Shining riff was around since the Born Again days, so this is proof of that statement.
While I personally have not read the new book, I have read the book that most of this stuff comes from in regards to the non Ozzy era, the “Black Sabbath: Never Say Die 1979-1997”. It’s extremely detailed, and should be required reading for all fans. You can check out my review of the book here. Additionally, back when that book came out, I was granted permission to publish a chapter of the book online, this one about Dio’s departure and Ian Gillan’s entrance into the band for Born Again. You can read that chapter of the book here.
But check out the recording at myspace. It’s a rather cool piece of Sabbath history that’s never been heard before since the 21 years or so since it was recorded.
UPDATE May 2007: It appears the audio track has been taken down.