Back in 1980, Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult did a co-headlining tour together in the USA, called "Black And Blue". One show was filmed - Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY on October 17th, 1980. Originally it was shown on TV at least in the US on the "Midnight Movie" circuit in the early 1980s.
It was also made available in 1980 as a VHS tape both in Europe (Click here for picture of the UK VHS sleeve) and in the US (picture not available). The European release was on Polygram Video, the US release was on Warner Bros. It remains unknown if it was released on other formats, such as betamax.
In 1984 the Black And Blue saw its first re-release, as it was issued on laser disc (rather heavy 12" shiny disc) in the UK on Polygram Video (Click here for picture of the front sleeve). 1993 was the time for the second reissue when Warner Bros released this on laser disc in Japan (Click here for picture of the front sleeve).
Because of a huge interest from the fans, Castle Pictures decided to reissue the Black And Blue film on DVD in 2002. In July 2002 they announced the project and gave September 23rd, 2002 as the release date for UK and October as the US release time frame.
As September 2002 approached, Castle Pictures announced the first delay in the project. Instead of releasing the DVD on September 23rd in the UK, they now announced that it will be released world-wide on October 8th, 2002. Just two weeks delay, not a big issue, and this way the release could be simultaenously both in the US and Europe.
At the same time previews of this DVD started to appear on Castle Pictures' other DVDs. At least "Deep Purple: Special Edition EP" (Click here for picture of the front sleeve) had a couple of minutes worth of the song Heaven And Hell. Also Die Young was released in full on a North American promotional sampler DVD around November 2002. Listed here are a few sample screenshots from the Deep Purple DVD:
As the DVD was not found in the shelves of the record stores in mid October, a new release time was announced. This time the DVD was planned to be released in the end of November, 2002. No reason for the delay was given, but the Internet Rumor Machine suggested that some extra footage is being compiled for the DVD to make it more attractive to the buyers. Rumors talked about possible interviews with Ronnie James Dio and various Blue Oyster Cult members.
On the first week of December the fans were anxiously polling the record stores for this DVD. The online music, DVD and bookstore Amazon already listed the US release at this stage, with October 22nd, 2002 as the release date. A rather poor picture of the planned artwork can be seen by Clicking here.
The polling was fruitless. The release had been delayed again, this time no release date had been set. No reason was given for the delay. The fans started to lose their hope, as on the second week of January 2003 Castle Pictures announced they've withdrawn their plans to release the Black And Blue DVD. According to them, the DVD was cancelled as one of the copyright holders, Tony Iommi, did not want it released. A week later, however, Castle Pictures sources said that they're still in negotiations to get the DVD released, but unfortunately that was the last time anything was heard about this project.
Or was it the last time after all? At some point, around the end of 2002 one copy of this was sold on Ebay - unfortunately the seller and buyer remains unknown. Seemingly this version has not - at least yet - made it to the bootlegger circles either. If someone reading this article happens to own a copy of this DVD, please contact me!
After the Castle Pictures failure probably no-one thought that someone would try to release the Black And Blue on DVD again. Since late 2001 or early 2002 a rather good quality Brazilian bootleg DVD had been available through Ebay and various other sources. Many people who had bought the Brazilian copy thought that they had the real thing, although it was just a bootleg copy.
However, things changed by the end of September 2004: Universal Videos announced that they will release Black And Blue on DVD for the first time. The European release date was set for November 15th, 2004. Again, according to various rumors, this DVD release was going to have Ronnie's interview as a special bonus.
In November Universal announced that the US release date for the DVD is going to be November 23rd, a week after the European release (or a day, depending on the source - some sources claimed the release date was set to November 22nd). Japanese release was set to December 22nd. According to Universal, all the versions were going to have a special new interview with Ronnie as well as bio and discographies from both Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath. They were also going to have reproduction of the original movie poster.
November 15th, 2004: European release date. No reports of the release being cancelled. However, just one report of a Black And Blue DVD seen for sale somewhere.
November 28th, 2004: US release date. No reports of the release being cancelled. However, no reports of a Black And Blue DVD seen for sale anywhere.
December 2004: Yes, Universal cancelled the release. No reason was given, but many people suspect the same reason for the cancellation as with the Castle Pictures release.
Spring 2005: The online record store Amazon listed this Universal release with April 19th, 2005 as the release date. Apparently no other record store did announce this release and - needless to say - April 19th came without any sign of Black And Blue DVD.
So, again a failed try to get this film released on DVD. This time it was somewhat surprising, since now there was a very large record company behind the release - one would've imagined that all the possible obstacles to get this released would've been worked out by them before announcing the project in the first place. Apparently the case was not so.
But wait! What was that one "I saw it for sale" note from somewhere in Europe on November 15th, 2004?
The somewhere turned out to be Holland. A bunch of DVDs were sent from the distributor to the record stores there for November 15th release. However, probably only a little bit after the DVDs were shipped, Universal sent a note that all the copies must be withdrawn and returned back as the release has been cancelled or postponed. Most of the record stores complied to this, but at least one managed to sell a few copies of this.
Later on I learnt that copies of this turned up for sale also in Sweden and Finland. Some record stores got a handful of copies in Finland, but as they tried to order more the very next day, the word from the distributor was that the DVD was sold out. I've got a few photos of the Swedish copy (most likely the same one for the whole Europe), please click the following links to see them:
At least the copy that leaked out in Sweden did not have any extras like the advertised Ronnie James Dio interview. It remains unknown why the extras were not included after all, whether it was a plain mistake or whether it was done on purpose.
Despite multiple copies of this was indeed sold in Europe, it seemingly has not made it yet to the Ebay except for one instance. If someone reading this has a copy of this DVD, I'd also love to hear from you!
Probably needless to say, there are loads of bootleg releases of this Black And Blue film. Some are just home-made DVD-R copies from the original VHS or laser disc - or umpteenth generation VHS, with bootlegs one simply cannot know the quality in advance. Some are "real" DVDs, manufactured for example in Russia or Brazil.
According to various sources, the Brazilian bootleg DVD release is relatively high quality one, apparently copied off either of the two laser disc releases. The artwork on the sleeve is taken from Heaven And Hell album and colored blue.
Update on February 21st, 2009: Interesting, possibly a legal release of the Black + Blue surfaced apparently in late 2008. The disc has IFPI codes printed on it, so it would be possible to track down the factory where the DVD was made in. The counterfeit releases practically never have these codes on them for obvious reasons. The artwork for this release is more or less the same as the original video release had. There is no release year except for 1998 printed on the sleeves, but as far as I know, copies of this DVD started to appear for sale only during the later part of 2008. More research is obviously needed so if anyone can share more information about this release, please contact me. Here are pictures of this release:
In the summer of 2006, counterfeit copies of the 2004 Universal release appeared. Those originate apparently either from Ukraine or Russia and look pretty similar to the canned Universal DVD. However, the sleeves have some text in cyrillic characters.
There is also at least one bootleg video CD (VCD) release of Black And Blue, but instead of being called Black And Blue, it is called "It's Heaven And Hell". The source for this VCD has probably been a VHS tape.
This page is maintained by Tapio Keihänen,
The page has been updated on 21.02.2009
URL: http://www.dio.net/misc/black_and_blue.html, the front page http://www.dio.net/.