Was The Black Sabbath Song Paranoid “Riffed-Off?”

Back in 1970, Black Sabbath recorded a song with an opening riff that has become the most recognizable in heavy metal history, “Paranoid.” The band’s first single release has also received countless accolades and has been named by numerous publications as one of the best songs of all time.


But now unearthed, is an obscure American garage band’s song from the same era… With an eerily similar riff!

The Half-Life – “Get Down”

The Half-Life - Get DownThe Half-Life - Get Down

Saginaw, Michigan’s Half Life recorded the song “Get Down” in one take at a Detroit studio in 1969. They tried to get local radio stations to play it, but were told it didn’t have commercial appeal.

While the riffs do have an insanely familiar feel, Half Life never accused Tony Iommi and company of any “wicked” activity. Black Sabbath were thousands of miles “across the pond” when they wrote “Paranoid,” and it wasn’t likely they heard the track on Half LIfe’s Facebook fan page in 1969.

“Paranoid” – 1970

BLACK SABBATH - "Paranoid" on Top of the Pops 1970BLACK SABBATH - "Paranoid" on Top of the Pops 1970

“The whole story of how we created that song is funny. It became the most popular song from the album, but it wasn’t something we thought much of when we wrote it. In fact, we finished the record and then the producer told us we needed one more song to finish up the album, so we just came up with “Paranoid” on the spot. Tony [Iommi] just played this riff and we all went along with it. We didn’t think anything of it.” – Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)


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