Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian remembered seeing Van Halen open for Black Sabbath back in 1978. At the time, Black Sabbath was in a period of decline. As for Van Halen, Ian said there was no better band around.
Ian, who was a recent guest on the No F’n Regrets Podcast with Robb Flynn of Machine Head, said the stories about Van Halen blowing Black Sabbath off the stage during that tour were spot on.
“My first time seeing [Black Sabbath] was on [the] Never Say Die! [tour] with Van Halen opening, and it’s all true,” said Ian. “In that period Van Halen was the best band on the planet, opening for Sabbath on their way out of the Ozzy era, so I mean, come on…I stayed and watched Sabbath, and you never saw a band get destroyed as badly.”
Ian attended the show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden which, according to the documented tour itinerary, took place on August 27th, 1978. Van Halen had joined Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die! tour after previously opening for Montrose and Journey. It was the last full tour Black Sabbath went on with Ozzy Osbourne before firing him in April of 1979. While critics were panning Sabbath’s “tired and uninspired” shows, they praised Van Halen. This clearly was a band with youth, inspiration and a desire to conquer the world.
“Van Halen was insane,” said Ian. “Everybody at Madison Square Garden was there, waiting, for the first time we were going to see Van Halen.”