LOS ANGELES, Oct 26 (Reuters) Ozzy Osbourne's bandmates in British heavy metal group Black Sabbath have reunited without the singer for a planned tour early next year, a spokeswoman said.
The threesome have joined forces with vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who sang in the band during two stints in the 1980s and 1990s after Osbourne was ousted for his prodigious drug abuse, but will bill themselves as ''Heaven and Hell.'' Lest anyone think that Osbourne has been ostracized again, representatives for the so-called ''Prince of Darkness'' issued a separate statement, announcing ''there is only one Black Sabbath,'' and that he would join forces with his old Birmingham buddies for a tour and new album late next year.
Original Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and Dio ''are working on a project together which has nothing to do with Black Sabbath,'' the statement said yesterday. ''However, Ozzy wishes Tony and Ronnie much success in their project together.'' The members of Heaven and Hell -- Dio, Iommi, bass player Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward -- were not available for comment. The group's spokeswoman said Dio and Iommi were in England writing songs together.
The combo takes its name from the first album Dio recorded with Black Sabbath in 1980. This lineup recorded another studio album in 1981 and a live album in 1982, after which Dio quit. He reportedly complained there were not enough photos of him in the live album artwork, while Iommi reportedly referred to the diminutive head-banger as a ''little Hitler.'' After a stint at the helm of a successful 1980s metal band bearing his last name, Dio briefly rejoined Black Sabbath a decade later, by which time Iommi was the only original member left and the group had lost most of its fans.
The founding foursome, famed for such jarring metal anthems as ''Paranoid'' and ''War Pigs,'' buried their various hatchets in the mid-1990s for a successful series of tours, although plans for a new album never came to fruition. After years of being snubbed, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Osbourne concurrently found mainstream notoriety as a reality TV star, thanks to his role as the perpetually confused paterfamilias in MTV's ''The Osbournes.'' REUTERS LL VV1211