The group made the announcement during a press conference today (Nov. 11) at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, where Sabbath played its first show in the city exactly 41 years ago. Black Sabbath will headline Download Festival, which will take place between June 8-10 in Donington Park, England. Meanwhile, Rick Rubin will produce the group’s comeback album, which is expected to be released in fall 2012 through Vertigo/Universal.
Rumors of new Sabbath activity have been swirling for months, with Osbourne recently telling Billboard.com that new material was “a very, very strong possibility. It’s in the very early stages, so we haven’t recorded anything yet.”
Guitarist Tony Iommi, who wrote extensively about the band in his new book “Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell With Black Sabbath,” also told Billboard.com that he regrouped with Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward at Osbourne’s California home earlier this year to play some music “for a bit of fun, and to see if we could all play. It was good, but it was just purely, ‘Let’s have a go and see what happens.’ “
Since the original lineup came together in 1968, the English metal pioneers have scored album sales of 15 million, according to the RIAA. Between 1970 and 2007, Black Sabbath have had 22 entries on the Billboard 200, and their biggest-selling effort — 1970’s “Paranoid,” which featured classic rock tracks like “Iron Man” and “War Pigs” — has sold 1.6 million in the SoundScan era.
The lineup of Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward released its last album, “Never Say Die,” in 1978; the disc has sold 133,000 copies in the SoundScan era. Osbourne split with Black Sabbath in 1979 and went on to a hugely successful solo career, with hits like “Crazy Train,” “Mr. Crowley” and “Shot in the Dark.” He rejoined the band in 1997 and toured on-and-off with them through 2006, but the only new material produced was two songs tacked onto a 1998 live album.
Check back with Billboard.com as this story develops.