Having worked with Ozzy Osbourne and the reunited Black Sabbath on both the 1997 and 1998 OzzFests, lighting and set designer Butch Allen was asked to come up with a new look for Black Sabbath's 1999 tour.
"They didn't have any particular themes in mind, so I based it on Black Sabbath's concept, which has a lot to do with unholy things, but it also has a lot to do with nature," Allen says. "Those two ideas made me think of evil trees, like the ones from H.R. Pufnstuf [a 70s children's TV show]. Since a tree obviously isn't very metal, I drew a tree covered in metal scales--which is what all the individual segments on the tree limbs are. It's a violent tree, so its roots dig into the ground with big, giant drillbits."The lighting system would live up underneath the superstructure--just po king out through the scales--and all the arms would articulate and the ends of the limbs are pincers, not branches," Allen continues. "The big circle in the middle is a video screen. It was supposed to be really evil, old, decrepit, and menacing."
Unfortunately, the band's management found the design's price tag too menacing. "We guessed that it would have taken between $1.2 and $1.5 million to do it right," explains Kevin O'Grady of Tait Towers. "It was about 50' to 60' wide, I believe, although construction drawings were never produced. It didn't get that far. It's a great design, and done right, it would have been fantastic. But it would have cost a lot of money to make it work on a touring basis."