Black Sabbath

Vertigo Swirl Part 1 cover

The first ‘half’ of UK Vertigo Swirl has now been compiled into a book, detailing all the variations and reissues (known to date) on this most iconic of collectable labels.

It’s available to buy here.

At 212 pages in full colour throughout, you’ll find how to distinguish a first Black Sabbath pressing from a fourth, which of these albums charted and when, how to spot a Gravy Train fake and much, much more.

There’s also a highly detailed account of how and why Olav Wyper started the label in the first place, as well as where the inspiration for the logo came from. There’s also a fascinating account of his ‘run in’ with the legendary Don Arden – not quite as dramatic as the Robert Stigwood incident, but not far off!

It would have been a mammoth book to try and incorporate all 88 swirls (and their reissues and variations) into just one book, as well as rather expensive (the publishers set the print prices and a 500 page book in full colour would cost around £90!), so I decided to break the label up into two Volumes. Volume Two will follow the same format and will complete the story – hopefully in a few months, once I’ve had a break from writing books for a couple of weeks!

I hope you find it useful and informative. I certainly found out some interesting facts whilst writing it. Enjoy!

The fourth Rare Record Collector book is now complete and available! All Black Sabbath’s UK vinyl releases from 1970–1980 are included along with exclusive interviews from Jim Simpson, Sabbath’s first manager and Olav Wyper, the founder of Vertigo Records in 1969. It’s fair to say that without both men believing in Sabbath, there’s a good chance they may never even have been signed…

You can buy the book here (click)


The book is available in print (164pp in glorious colour) and PDF download versions. An ePub (kindle) version will follow in the next few weeks.

Take a look at the original intended covers might have looked for Paranoid, Volume 4 and how Ernie Cefalu (creative director of Pacific Eye And Ear) intended Sabbath Bloody Sabbath to originally look…

You would? Great! The original colour pencil and acrylic artwork for arguably Sabbath’s best album, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is for sale by the guy who came up with the concept back in 1973, Pacific Eye & Ears Creative Director/owner Ernie Cefalu.


The stunning front and rear artwork measures a whopping 30″ x 40″ each (that’s probably around 5 times bigger than it appeared on the original sleeve). The colours are different too, Ernie told me that he also designed completely different lettering and that the colours were altered once he’d handed over the artwork for the sleeve to be printed (more of that story and a visual of the original sleeve design in the forthcoming Black Sabbath book!).

I vividly remember being totally captivated by this sleeve, and the subsequent music back when I was about 12 years old: it was my very first introduction to heavy rock/metal music at the time. I was utterly fascinated by the artwork and loved the duality of the evil/good variations on the front and rear covers.

Ernie explains how he came up with the original concept: “My concept for this album was based on two color illustrations that were given to me on my confirmation day in 1955, that I still have to this day. They are from the 1700’s and depict an evil man and a good man both at the split second of their death. When I showed them to Drew and explained the idea – well these pieces speak for themselves.” It was the celebrated artist Drew Struzan who completed the illustrations to Ernie’s brief and concept.


So, if you actually want to own these one-off pieces of legendary and downright awesome artwork to one of the best albums and best album covers from the 1970s…you’ll need deep pockets or a modest win on the lottery! Quite rightly, these pieces are in the ‘fine art’ league and as such, feature breathtaking prices, Ernie wants $100,000 for each original artwork…ask him very nicely and he may offer a (very) small discount if you buy both!

Why so valuable you might ask? Well the main reason is that Drew Struzan is now one of the most collectable artists since the Second World War. It’d be akin to acquiring an original LS Lowry perhaps.

You can contact Ernie Cefalu here.

Oh and he also has over 350 pieces of other iconic original artwork too for Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, Earth Wind & Fire etc

Some notable fans of Drew Struzan’s work (he’s responsible for some of the most famous movies posters in the last 40 years, including Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, ET to name just a tiny few)

“Drew Struzan is the only collectable artist since the second World War.” – George Lucas

“Struzan is my favorite movie poster artist ever.” –  Stephen Spielberg

“Struzan is the greatest poster artist of our time.” – The Boston Globe

Yes, I’ve been neglecting the site updates and posts lately – been busy compiling all the info and writing the forthcoming Black Sabbath Rare Vinyl UK Discography book! In the meantime, the site has now exceeded 1 Million views, so thanks to everyone who’s found this site useful.

Here’s a teaser spread from the forthcoming book


If anyone can contribute a small amount (via the Paypal donation button on the right) it will help ensure I can keep this site online and up to date…it’s a big resource of information and hosting it isn’t cheap anymore (thanks to all the images and pages etc), so to quote a famous retailer…every little helps!

More updates coming soon. Promise.



(PS – after the Black Sabbath book, what book would you collectors find the most useful? Vertigo Swirl, Harvest? Both of these would be big volumes and would have to probably be done as two editions each…send me your thoughts and we’ll see which is the most popular request!)

I found this original 1978 black and white ad for Sabbath’s new album “Never Say Die”. I wondered what it would look like in colour so utilised the same kind of hand-coloured effect that original designers Hipgnosis used for their album sleeves. It’s now available for sale as an A3 print on heavy duty card and looks superb framed!

black-sabbath-1978-album-ad-small      black-sabbath-1978-album-ad-colour

It’s been retouched from the original ad, to remove creases and blotches and then hand-coloured (in Photoshop) to match the colours from the original album sleeve.

Price is £4.99 + shipping. Reply to this post with your email address and address and I’ll quote you for shipping. It will be mailed rolled in cardboard tube, UK shipping is £3.50

Here’s a large double page spread poster that advertised 6 dates in November 1971, to tour the “Master Of Reality” album in the UK. Unfortunately, Bill Ward was suffering from “physical and mental exhaustion following the band’s recent US tour”, and Tony Iommi was “confined to bed with ‘flu, under doctors’ orders”.



All the dates (including an earlier one on Tuesday 16th November at Southampton Guildhall) were cancelled and rearranged (with additional ones) for January and February 1972.

If you’re interested in band logos and how they were designed then there’s a cool site dedicated to logos and brands. It features a fair bit on AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but has just posted a feature on Black Sabbath’s first 8 albums, including the four Vertigo Swirls as well as Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die.  Click here to go to WhatsThatFont…

VO6 6360-011 6360-050-front 6360-071-front