|Song by Black Sabbath from the album Paranoid|
|Writer||Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward|
The original title of "War Pigs" was "Walpurgis", dealing with the witches' sabbath. "Walpurgis is sort of like Christmas for Satanists. And to me, war was the big Satan", said bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler. "It wasn’t about politics or government or anything. It was (about) evil. So I was saying 'generals gathered in the masses/just like witches at black masses' to make an analogy. But when we brought it to the record company, they thought 'Walpurgis' sounded too Satanic. And that’s when we turned it into ‘War Pigs.’ But we didn’t change the lyrics, because they were already finished." Prior to its official release, the band often altered the lyrics significantly when performing it live. An example of this can be found on Ozzy Osbourne's compilation The Ozzman Cometh, which features an early version recorded by Black Sabbath for BBC Radio 1 on 4/26/70. While Butler has said that War Pigs is "totally against the Vietnam War, about how these rich politicians and rich people start all the wars for their benefit and get all the poor people to die for them", vocalist Osbourne has stated that the group "knew nothing about Vietnam. It's just an anti-war song."
Drummer Bill Ward's first memory of performing the song was at The Beat Club in Switzerland in 1968. The band were required to play multiple sets every night and had little material in their repertoire at that point, so they would perform lengthy jam sessions to fill out the sets. Iommi has said that "War Pigs" originated from one of those live jam sessions.
The addition of the air-raid siren and the speeding up of the song's end were done by producer Rodger Bain and engineer Tom Allom. The band had no input in these decisions, though they were pleased with the results.
Martin Popoff has called the song an "ugly, antiwar classic now considered one of Sabbath's top two or three most enduring compositions." Guitar World described the song as "the greatest HM song ever." The magazine also included the song on their list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Solos" and ranked it in 56th place. Steve Huey of Allmusic called the song a "standard".
- Future Sabbath member Ronnie James Dio's early 1970s band, Elf, covered the song regularly in concert.
- Sacred Reich covered the song on the EP Surf Nicaragua and their live EP Alive at the Dynamo.
- PIG on the Prime Evil EP.
- Faith No More on the CD release of their 1989 album The Real Thing and the 1991 Live at the Brixton Academy concert album. The Brixton performance was also released on the Nativity in Black tribute album.
- Psychedelic punk band Alice Donut have recorded a brass band version of this song on their 1991 opus, Revenge Fantasies of the Impotent.
- Gov't Mule on their 1999 album Live... With a Little Help from Our Friends.
- Hayseed Dixie on A Hot Piece of Grass.
- Tesla on Real to Reel.
- Cake on their 2007 album B-Sides and Rarities.
- Alex Skolnick Trio on their 2002 album Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation.
- The Acacia Strain covered the song for the video game Homefront.
- Cover version is featured in Guitar Hero 2 and is downloadable content for Rock Band.
- Celldweller released a mash-up of War Pigs and Metallica's "Disposable Heroes", titled "Disposable War Pigs", as a free download in 2011.
- The Dresden Dolls covered the song live numerous times. Also it can be found on Live: In Paradise DVD.
- Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-30681-9551.
- Alexander, Phil (1998). Reunion (Media notes). Black Sabbath. Epic.
- Wiederhorn, Jon. "Black Sabbath Bassist Geezer Butler Gets 'Paranoid' - Noisecreep". Noisecreep. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
- Popoff, Martin (2006). Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose: An Illustrated History. ECW press. p. 32. ISBN 1-55022-731-9.
- The Ozzman Cometh liner notes, Epic Records, November 11, 1997.
- Popoff, Martin (2006). Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose: An Illustrated History. ECW press. p. 33. ISBN 1-55022-731-9.
- Clerk, Carol (2002). Diary of a Madman: Ozzy Osbourne:The Stories Behind the Songs. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-56025-4720.
- Orshoski, Wes (2 November 2002). "Rhino Bows Sabbath Fete with Two-Disc Anthology". Billboard.
- The corresponding page on About.com's listing of Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitar Solos
- "100 Greatest Guitar Solos: 51-100 - Guitar World". Guitar World. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
- Huey, Steve. "Allmusic (((Paranoid > Overview)))". Allmusic. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
- Wiederhorn, Jon. "Remembering Metal Legend Ronnie James Dio - Noisecreep". Noisecreep. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
- "Revenge fantasies of the impotent on the Alice Donut website".