This Is How Much Black Sabbath Spent On Cocaine While Working On An Album

On Friday, February 13, 1970, Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut album in their native England, and heavy metal as we know it today was arguably born. At that time, there had already been countless bands that pushed the boundaries in terms of loudness, but there wasn't anyone else out there — at least none who achieved as much commercial success — willing to touch on the subject matter that Sabbath did.

Of course, Black Sabbath didn't exclusively sing about the man downstairs. In fact, they transformed a song about witches at black masses into an eight-minute anti-war anthem, apparently due to pressure from their record label. And given how they peaked in the 1970s, it shouldn't shock anyone that the members of Sabbath were heavily into drugs and wrote about the topic at length, as evidenced by songs like "Hand of Doom." Then you've also got "Snowblind," a song that actually includes the word "cocaine" in the lyrics. 

Just how much money did Black Sabbath spend on drugs at the peak of their decadent lifestyles? Although they've long since sobered up, they've been very open about the topic, revealing in multiple interviews the amount of money they blew (pun not intended) on cocaine while recording one of their most iconic albums.

Their cocaine budget allegedly exceeded their album budget

Black Sabbath's fourth album, the appropriately-named "Vol. 4," cost somewhere between $60,000 to $65,000 to make. That's $10,000 to $15,000 less than what the band spent on cocaine while making the record. In case you need us to do the math, that's $75,000 worth of the white stuff, and if inflation is taken into account, that's more than $477,000 in today's money. And while one may think that Ozzy Osbourne was doing most of the drugs at that time, given his penchant for self-destructive behavior, Tony Iommi argued otherwise, telling The Guardian in 2013 that everyone in the band was getting loaded in one way or another. "I was doing coke left, right and center, and quaaludes, and God knows what else," the guitarist recalled. "We used to have [cocaine] flown in by private plane."

According to bassist Geezer Butler, it was during the making of "Vol. 4" when he realized his drug use was spiraling out of control — as Sabbath's main lyricist, he understood that it wasn't a good idea to create music while totally wasted. He did, however, admit to The Guardian that Osbourne's overindulgence was a problem during the making of "Vol. 4," sharing that because the frontman wasn't required to play any instruments, he'd be "[at] the bar getting legless or doing all kinds of things" while the rest of the band was writing songs.

Sabbath's cocaine use inspired one of their classic songs ... and Vol. 4's working title, too

Casual fans may know "Vol. 4" as the album where Black Sabbath recorded a piano ballad — a piano ballad sung by the Prince of Darkness, can you believe that? — called "Changes." That was the anomaly, though, as everything else on the album that had vocals on it was on-brand heavy. That includes the song "Snowblind," which, in case the title and lyrics weren't enough of a dead giveaway, has the word "cocaine" whispered toward the end of the first verse. It's a dark, brooding tune about a man trapped in his addiction, and as Ozzy Osbourne recalled in his autobiography, "I Am Ozzy," it could have been the title of their fourth album as well. That, too, would have been fitting, considering the aforementioned $75,000 coke budget, but according to the frontman, the powers that be thought the working title was too blatant a drug reference to use.

"For me, 'Snowblind' was one of Black Sabbath's best-ever albums — although the record company wouldn't let us keep the title, 'cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn't want the hassle of a controversy," Osbourne wrote, as quoted by Dangerous Minds. "We didn't argue."

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Geezer Butler said he wasn't a fan of the new, safer album title. But it's not like the band didn't try to sneak in a trolling reference to their favorite form of recreation, as the liner notes of "Vol. 4" included the inscription, "We wish to thank the great COKE-Cola Company of Los Angeles."