“N.I.B.” is a song released by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. It first appeared as the fourth track on the band’s 1970 debut album, Black Sabbath. The lyrics are in the first person from the point of view of Lucifer. Lyricist Geezer Butler has said that “the song was about the devil falling in love and totally changing, becoming a good person.”
“N.I.B.” begins with a bass solo by Geezer Butler, titled “Bassically” on some US releases. It involves the use of the wah-wah pedal and was recorded in one take, as the amp’s volume control is audibly turned up before the intro of “N.I.B.” begins.
The song’s main riff (as well as Osbourne’s vocal delivery) have been noted for their Cream-influenced sound — the song has even been referred to as “the raucous defiling of Cream”.
When the song was first released, its title was widely rumoured to have stood for “Nativity in Black”, or to a lesser extent “Name In Blood”. In a 1992 interview, Geezer Butler states that the title simply refers to Bill Ward’s goatee at the time, which the rest of the band thought was shaped like a pen nib; also referred to as nibby. Apparently, Geezer Butler said: “Originally it was Nib, which was Bill’s beard. When I wrote N.I.B., I couldn’t think of a title for the song, so I just called it Nib, after Bill’s beard. To make it more intriguing I put punctuation marks in there to make it N.I.B. By the time it got to America, they translated it to Nativity In Black.” Ronnie James Dio can be heard mentioning (but not confirming) this assumption on several live bootleg recordings with the band from the early 1980s and on the 2007 released Live-CD Live at Hammersmith Odeon, recorded in 1982.