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Is this newly-unearthed track an early Dio-era Black Sabbath demo?

Geoff Nicholls’ estate have uploaded a previously unreleased track which seems to feature Dio and co. jamming in the early Heaven And Hell days



A never-before-heard track which appears to feature Black Sabbath jamming with Ronnie James Dio has just been unearthed. The song, titled Slapback, was uploaded to YouTube by the estate of the late Sabbath keyboardist, Geoff Nicholls.

Slapback was taken from the same cassette recording which captured the 1979 “Bel Air” rehearsals for the 1980 album Heaven And Hell, leading Nicholls’ stepson, Gary Rees, to speculate that it was an early demo for the album. 

Rees, who manages all estate duties, uploaded the video along with a bit more context about the track and its origins. He writes:

“This latest upload from the Geoff Nicholls estate I believe is called Slapback from the scrawling on the cassette and the chorus. This is from the same cassette as the Heaven & Hell upload on this channel. It doesn’t sound like a typical SABBATH song, if it is them, but it does sound like Ronnie James Dio.”

“It must be a cover, any clues?  I have no idea about anything I wasn’t there. Everything is speculation. Great tune by the way.”

Given that Geezer Butler allegedly didn’t take part in Heaven And Hell’s earliest sessions, Rees also posed the question whether it was Dio behind the bass, asking: “Is it Ronnie on bass or ‘a friend from Birmingham’?”

This track follows Rees’ first YouTube upload last month, where he shared a recording of the album’s title track during a rehearsal in 1979, featuring Geoff on bass. 

Listen to Slapback below.