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Black Sabbath’s Debut Pub Earns Grade II Listing

Published / Fri 15 Mar 2024

Black Sabbath's Debut Pub Earns Grade II Listing

Photo: Black Sabbath’s Debut Pub Earns Grade II Listing  /  Credit: Elliot Brown

The Crown Inn, a historic pub in Birmingham, United Kingdom, notable for hosting the first gig of legendary rock band Black Sabbath, has been awarded Grade II listed status. This classification, reserved for buildings of significant interest in the U.K., emphasizes the importance of preservation efforts for structures with cultural, architectural, or historic value.

Birmingham Pub Cements It’s Legacy

In 1968, the members of Black Sabbath—guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler, and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, who were then performing under the name EARTH—played their inaugural show at Henry’s Blueshouse within The Crown Inn. The venue has also played host to other iconic bands such as Judas Priest, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, and The Who, marking its place in music history.

Constructed in 1881, The Crown Inn closed its doors in 2014 following its acquisition by a Japanese development company and has since remained unoccupied. The decision to list the building highlights its significance not only to the city’s musical heritage but also to the broader cultural landscape of Birmingham.

Tony Iommi reflected on the venue’s importance, stating…

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“Cities all over the U.K. are protecting their musical heritage. Birmingham shouldn’t be left behind. The Crown has huge significance to us and many other successful acts. It was one of very few venues that supported the emerging rock scene with a blues club and was home to our first-ever gig.”

Louise Brennan, the Regional Director for Historic England in the Midlands, expressed her satisfaction with the listing, noting the pub’s unique character and its role in Birmingham’s cultural history. She remarked:

“The Crown is a one-of-a-kind building with history written in its walls. It’s a Birmingham cultural landmark that fittingly is almost within sight of Ozzy the bull in New Street Station, and I’m really pleased it’s being recognized with Grade II Listed status.”

Jez Collins, a music historian and founder of the Birmingham Music Archive, emphasized the global significance of The Crown to the music industry.

“The Crown holds a special place internationally for the music industry. It is the venue that BLACK SABBATH, then called EARTH, first played the songs that would appear on their classic first two albums. In fact, the stage Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill first stood on is still there!

In a bid to restore The Crown Inn, Birmingham Open Media (BOM) has invested over £100,000 and has secured additional funding, including a £300,000 levelling up fund. Despite these efforts and raising £4.5 million towards the required £5 million, the current owner’s conditions for sale pose a challenge, necessitating further public sector support to realize the pub’s revival.

The Grade II listing of The Crown Inn underscores the ongoing commitment to preserving Birmingham’s musical heritage and the broader effort to celebrate the city’s contributions to the world of heavy metal music.

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