Heaven & Hell Rising in 2007?

File this story under the “very interesting rumour” department…
I’ve gotten quite a few emails about this subject today, and I wasn’t planning on saying anything quite yet, but the fact that I keep getting emails has prompted me into saying something.
There is a story running today that claims that Ronnie James Dio, Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, & Tony Iommi are going to be touring in 2007 under the moniker of “Heaven & Hell”. First off, let me copy the article verbatim, and then I’ll have a few remarks about it:

Madrid, Spain-based webzine Rafabasa is reporting that former BLACK SABBATH members Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward will rejoin forces once again under the HEAVEN & HELL banner for a number of festival appearances next summer.
According to Rafabasa, the four members cannot tour under the name BLACK SABBATH or “BLACK SABBATH with Ronnie James Dio” due to legal reasons.
No tour dates have yet been confirmed, but the band’s booking agent is allegedly offering the group to the promoters of the most important heavy metal festivals that are set to take place next year.
If the report is to be believed, HEAVEN & HELL will play a set consisting of selections from every single SABBATH CD that Ronnie James Dio appeared on: “Heaven & Hell”, “Mob Rules” and “Dehumanizer”.
In an August 16, 2006 appearance on the syndicated radio show “Rockline”, Dio had the following to say about the possibility of further collaborations with BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi:
“We’ve already written one [new] song together. The reason for that is that there’s a release coming out, it’s called ‘Black Sabbath: The Dio Years’ — they’ve already done one, of course, ‘Black Sabbath: The Ozzy Years’; that was the beginning and, really, the best part of it all — but they’ve decided to do one, again, ‘Black Sabbath: The Dio Years’, and we wanted to make it a little but more special, not just give you things you’ve not heard from a live perspective. These are two things you’ll never hear again — two new songs. We are going to do that. It’s been fun already. The one we’ve done — the one that I’ve done with Tony has been really wonderful — just great to realize how magnificent a player he was. You forget that after 10 years at a time that you don’t work with someone. So we are gonna be doing that. And I hope you’ll like it. I think it’ll be great.”
On the rumors of him possibly rejoining BLACK SABBATH, Dio said, “There’s always rumors about everything — about a RAINBOW reunion, about a BLACK SABBATH reunion. Our purpose was to do this because we wanted to have this product be a bit more special than anything else — not just, ‘Here’s a live track you’ve never heard before.’ I mean, that’s cool, but I’m sure people have heard that. We wanted to do something a bit more special, so the whole band would write and play these songs, and… They’ve wanted to hear them long enough, so here they are. But it’s not anything that we’ve talked about leading to anything other than that. No, it’s for that project.”

A few remarks by me on all this:
Today was not the first time I had heard these rumours. Running this site I hear all kinds of things, and generally I tend to discount them – but this one had some more weight to it, so I decided to do some poking around on my own. While I can’t get anyone to officially say anything about this, it does seem to have the air of an authentic story to me. Heck, I can’t get any official word about who is even playing on the new tracks for the Dio Years set, besides Iommi & Dio. One would hope it’s the same four guys (Iommi/Butler/Ward/Dio), but I can’t get official confirmation of that one, either.
So it’s known that the Dio Years box set is happening. When – who knows, although I would imagine sooner rather than later. What the contents of the set are is also officially unknown. I’ve been hearing some rumours about specific content, but I don’t really want to spread any more FUD about that issue, so I’ll leave that out for now. Suffice it to say if what I heard is true, fans will really like it.
The other issue I wanted to say something about was the bit about legally not being able to call themselves Black Sabbath. A few points about this.. Ronnie has stated on many interviews and on his website that he would not be rejoining Black Sabbath. Assuming you take that as true, the rumour I heard that it was a choice to call themselves Heaven & Hell and not Black Sabbath should be taken as correct. The other side to that is the ownership of “Black Sabbath”. It’s always been my knowledge that in the mid 80’s Tony Iommi bought all the rights, and to this day retains such ownership. There was a lot of stories that in order to get Ozzy to come back in 1997, some of that ownership would have to be given to the Osbournes. Now I want to say this. I am a fan. A somewhat connected fan, but I still am a fan. I’m an idiot if I think I know everything – I do not. But I do pay attention, and I have never seen anything that tells me that the ownership situation of “Black Sabbath” has changed. My educated guess tells me that this bit about legally not being able to use the name Black Sabbath is incorrect, that it’s a choice to do that. If I hear anything factually to counteract that, I will retract my opinion here. I’M RIGHT – see update below.
Having said all this stuff, this is a very exciting possibility. To sum up:
Known facts:

  • There will be a “Black Sabbath: The Dio Years” box set.
  • Said box set will contain at least two newly recorded tracks.
  • Tony & Ronnie collaborated on the newly recorded tracks.

These are all unconfirmed – so don’t take it as fact, eh? :)

  • Geezer Butler & Bill Ward will comprise the rhythm section on the new tracks.
  • Iommi/Butler/Ward/Dio will tour in 2007 as “Heaven & Hell”.
  • They are not billing themselves as “Black Sabbath” due to legal reasons. FALSE – see update below.
  • The Dio Years set may include the video mentioned by Dio on the Live Evil recordings.

Hopefully I can get some official confirmation about this stuff now that the “word is out” so to speak. I do work for Bill Ward & Geezer Butler, and am fairly friendly with Tony Iommi’s people, so hopefully I can find out something I can officially talk about. The only “official” things are the three things listed above as “facts”. The rest is speculation. I hope it’s all true. And if they do tour, they’d better come to Dallas, dammit! :)
Hmm… Dio replaced Ozzy back in 1979, and now it’s (in a fashion) being done again in 2007. Does this mean that a TV show with Ronnie going “WENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNDY, the dog crapped on the carpet again!” is far behind? ;)
UPDATE Sep 28: I’ve since gotten email from an official source that wishes to remain anonymous that I was 100% correct on the legal situation with Tony Iommi and the name “Black Sabbath”. It’s still his sandbox, so there’s no legal reason that would stop them from going out under the name Black Sabbath should they choose to. Should this all come off, and the name “Heaven & Hell” is used, it’s my belief that it was some artistic choice, and not a legal one.