The stepson of late Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls released a demo of a song from around 1979 that features Ronnie James Dio on vocals.

While Gary Rees admitted that the track – which he believes was titled “Slapback” – didn’t come across like a Sabbath piece, he said he’d found it on a cassette tape that contained other material recording during the band’s preparation sessions for the following year’s album, Heaven and Hell.

“It doesn't sound like a typical Sabbath song, if it is them, but it does sound like Ronnie James Dio,” Rees said in the YouTube description. “I have no idea about anything; I wasn't there. Everything is speculation.”

Alluding to the fact that Geezer Butler had temporarily quit the band before rejoining in time to play on Sabbath's first LP with Dio, Rees noted, “Is it Ronnie on bass or ‘a friend from Birmingham?’” (Nicholls had actually been hired to replace Butler but moved to keyboards after the original bassist returned and remained in the band until 2014, usually in an offstage position.)

You can hear "Slapback" below.

Many commentators feel certain it is a Sabbath song, with one calling it the “missing link between ‘Never Say Die’ and ‘Heaven and Hell.’” “That’s Iommi on guitar, without question," another wrote. "The guitar solo pretty much gives it away.”

Rees added that, while he had many more tapes to explore, his vintage equipment needed servicing and there was “no spare cash” to cover the costs. He asked those who’d like to hear more to donate to a Patreon fund so his work could continue.


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