“Paranoid” was the first Black Sabbath single release, coming six months after their debut album was released. Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler (from Guitar World magazine, March 2004):
A lot of the “Paranoid” album was written around the time of our first album, Black Sabbath. We recorded the whole thing in about 2 or 3 days, live in the studio. The song “Paranoid” was written as an afterthought. We basically needed a 3 minute filler for the album, and Tony came up with the riff. I quickly did the lyrics, and Ozzy was reading them as he was singing.
Paranoid was also used as the name of the album, and somewhat unusually, the word paranoid is never mentioned in the lyrics. Originally the band had wanted to call the album War Pigs after the song of the same name, but the record company persuaded them to use Paranoid instead because it was less offensive.
“Paranoid” was ranked No. 1 on VH1’s 40 Greatest Metal Songs. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 11 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. Rolling Stone ranked it number 250 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The original Black Sabbath recording has been used numerous times in various films and television shows including Sid & Nancy, Dazed and Confused, The Stoned Age, Any Given Sunday, Almost Famous, We Are Marshall, The Angry Birds Movie, and Suicide Squad. The song was used in the Sega Mega Drive game Rock n’ Roll Racing in 1993, and WWE 2K17. The song was covered by industrial rock group The Clay People for the various artists compilation album Shut Up Kitty, released in 1993.
In Finland, “Paranoid” has the same status as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” in the United States as a song the audience finds great humor to request during a concert. So regardless of a band or the style of music in question, somebody may shout “Soittakaa Paranoid!” (“Play Paranoid!”) during a gig.
Ozzy Osbourne – vocals
Tony Iommi – lead guitar, rhythm guitar
Geezer Butler – bass guitar
Bill Ward – drums