Update on Tour Date Updates

Those of you who have been around online Black Sabbath fandom for some time will know the name Rob Dwyer. Rob ran Sabbathlive.com for a long time, and was the repository of tour date info for ages. His site was the place to go for that. I had my own info, but it wasn’t nearly as extensive as Rob’s work.

Some years ago Rob burnt out on all of it, and took his site down. However, we didn’t want this data to be lost, so we struck a deal at the time where my site would host his tour date research. That data has been on my site for some time, and is still to this day an excellent source of info if you want to look backwards.

But neither Rob nor I ever claimed to have covered 100% of the gigs, their various openers, reschedules, cancels, etc.  It was for that reason that I would solicit changes.  If someone had verifiable proof that something happened that we didn’t, I wanted to know about it.  I would take those, make modifications with the idea of keeping it accurate in all circumstances.   Unfortunately, real life got in the way of that.  My wife and I had kids, and my time available for tinkering with this site went way down.  Not cuz I didn’t want to, but when you have young kids, there’s far greater demands on one’s time than 40+ year old gig research for Black Sabbath.   So the submissions sat …and they sat, and they SAT.  I looked earlier this week, and there were over 450 of them going back (in a couple of cases) all the way back to 2009!  Holy crap, I had no idea they were THAT backlogged.

If you remember, about 3-4 years ago or so I changed my site’s look to replace the look the site had previous to that (which had been going for like 10 years).  I still mostly like that design, but the biggest thing I had to no import into the new look (and WordPress) was the tour date archive. The problem is the data there was in flat HTML files.  It wasn’t in WordPress/database format, which is fine if all you want to do is display it.  But I wanted it in a database, make it more easily maneuverable, better to backup, etc.  But the single most important reason for wanting to move the format is edits.  Editing the old raw HTML files was a pain.  Editing in a database is so much elegant and better for various reasons.

The problem with *THAT* is that there’s just so much of it.  The tour data is extensive, covering every tour going all the way back to the Earth days in late 1968.   All those tours.  All those concerts.  Every time I’d get an inclination of wanting to work on it, I’d take a look at the mountain of work needed, go “fuck it” and move on to something else.  So the stuff would continue to pile up, needing an update.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, but the sheer mountain of work needed was a pain.

I’m using software for WordPress called “GigPress”, which is a pretty robust piece of software that lets you catalogue all this.  Problem is once again, importing all the data.  Gigpress lets you import entire tours all at once, but you still have to get it into a csv file for the import.  That’s way easier than manually entering EVERY SINGLE FUCKING GIG by hand, but still requires someone to sit there and translate the data form the current version into the csv file for import.  Again – mountain of fucking work.

Jump forward to earlier this week.  I get an email from Tapio Keihänen, another old timer in the community asking me for some info on a specific gig in 1980 around the time Bill Ward had left.  I didn’t know, so I ran it by Rob.  Rob, as I pointed out, is mostly retired, but given the three of us go way back together, I thought I’d try Rob, as he still did have all that info.   Rob helped him out, but it got the two of us talking about my archive. I laid it all out for him (what I told you above here in this story), and Rob had an idea.

Rob reminded me of when we originally set up the pages we have now.  He has all this data in a database on his end, what he did then was export it into a format that I could use.  Rob had the idea that since the import data structure for Gigpress is known, it shouldn’t be that hard for him to export it again into a format I can use to import into Gigpress, which would take way like 90% of the work required to do this bloody fiasco of a project.   That got me excited again, and that’s the whole reason for this post.

Rob has agreed to work with me again to update the tour data info for my ENTIRE site, and we’re gonna bring this sucker up to date – something that hasn’t been done in YEARS.  Rob even took on the backlog of submissions I had – so I exported the 450+ emails I had into an .mbx format, gave them to Rob, and he’s going to merge that into his database, and then re-export it back out for me to use for THIS site.

That’s something I’ve been wanting to to for years, and will finally be able to get to it.  There’s a few issues I still have to deal with (like ‘Gig Notes’, and user submitted concert reviews), but for now I’m going to be QUITE happy that I can get it all into a database.   So if you’ve ever sent in tour date submission in the past, I never deleted it.  There’s a shit ton of them that will get picked up in this project.

No time frame yet, but if you want to see what I’m doing, here’s an example.  Take a look at this page, it’s the existing tour history for the 1987 Eternal Idol tour as it has been for years.  It’s functional, but again, all that info is raw HTML. It’s a huge pain to edit if need be. Given the Eternal Idol tour was so short, I manually entered all of those myself as a test to see what weirdness we’d need to be aware of with importing so many concerts.   Here is a TEST VERSION of the same gig data in the new format.  To be clear, the test version is NOT complete, just my first attempt under the new project to see how this will turn out with old data.

So basically, there’s still a lot of work to do, and things to sort out, but major MAJOR props to Rob for agreeing to help out to bring this up to speed.   I don’t expect a lot of updates on this.  When it’s done, I’ll post a news story about that.  You also might see some of the new ones as they get converted/cleaned up on the site.

I’m just happy this is going. As I told my wife the other night..   “Hey there Inspiration to Work on the Site. I haven’t seen you in a very long time!” :)


  1. Hey Joe (and Rob),

    I just wanted to thank you guys for keeping this site up and running. I can’t imagine the amount of work that goes in on the back end in order to keep the site up, never mind keeping it as organized, detailed and nice to look at/easy to use. And that’s on top of your day job and your personal life. (I have kids – I know where you’re coming from.)

    Quite honestly, it’s one of the most comprehensive and well put together websites out there, on ANY subject.

    Much appreciated,


  2. I totally agree with Mike M.
    Thank you so much guys, for all your work on the site and the database.
    Hats of to the both of you!



  4. Joe, I imagine how difficult it has been to manage a website of this size for all these years, it is a commendable task, indeed, my congratulations!

    I do not know if you are aware of the extent of your work, but I am here in Brazil and I always access your website.

    So thank you for your the dedication, and know that it is not in vain.

    My regards and respect,
    João E. Pessoa

  5. Gary Leak says

    The June 4, 1989 show was in Columbia, Maryland, not South Carolina. That’s my stub!

  6. Al DeGaetano says

    Moscow ’89 has always intrigued me. I know the story behind it and I’ve seen the concert…does anyone have an idea how many people actually saw the band in that 10 day run? I’d imagine attendance was huge being the new freedom that Russia was experiencing at the time.

  7. Hi Joe,
    as mentioned in my email, I am very happy to hear you and Rob will update the tour dates archive. One question: what’s the best way to contact you with corrections or suggestions for changes and updates? Email to you, email to Rob, comment here, or some other way?
    Good luck!

  8. Amazing news and work Joe! Keep the Flame! From Brazil, Cheers.

  9. Hi Joe, it seems that you found a way to import all those tour stuff, but anyway I tried some text filtering
    with the text source of the Eternal Idol dates page, and this is the result.
    Does this have any use? (ps- excuse me for English errors)

    “Eternal Idol Tour 1987″,”1986-09-30T00:00:01”,”Dave Spitz leaves band – First Time. Bob Daisley briefly joins “,”Black Sabbath”,””,””
    “Eternal Idol Tour 1987″,”1986-11-11T00:00:01”,”Bob Daisley leaves band after laying down bass tracks “,”Black Sabbath”,””,””
    “Eternal Idol Tour 1987″,”1987-01-01T00:00:01”,”Recording Moves to London u2013 Eric Singer leaves band “,”Black Sabbath”,””,””
    “Eternal Idol Tour 1987″,”1987-03-01T00:00:01”,”Ray Gillen leaves band, Tony Martin Joins, Bev Bevan returns “,”Black Sabbath”,””,””
    “Eternal Idol Tour 1987″,”1987-07-14T00:00:01”,”Tour Rehearsals w/ Geezer “,”Black Sabbath”,””,””
    “Eternal Idol Tour 1987″,”1987-07-18T00:00:01″,”Plymouth Rock Festival (w/ Geezer on Bass)”,”Black Sabbath”,”Plymouth Argyle Football Club”,”Plymouth”,”Devon”,”United Kingdom”

    • I’ve got the format worked out now. The big work begins in verifying all the submissions and checking dates and things. :)

    • I’ve already got 1987, 1989, 2012, & 2008 in the new format.

      • Glad to hear, and thank you for all your work all these years. For me it is a source of information about the “family tree” and news about the band.

  10. Slacker : ) says

    Joe why we appreciate your work. I just can’t help not to point out again that you always do this. You never ask for help about this stuff. You just complain or I guess blow off this stuff because of lack of time. I got that over a decade ago when you would start letting us know about time. The problem is you never ask for help!

    Who here could help. Lordy someone has to be able and willing. NO! I dont have time to help! ; )


    • No, I never ask for help mostly, because in the 22 years I’ve been doing this site, one thing stays with me. It’s mine. I can do what I want, when I want. I’m not beholden to anyone, and that’s what keeps it the way it is. :)

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