|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".
- The song has been covered by bands such as Sacred Reich (Surf Nicaragua, 1988), Faith No More (The Real Thing, 1989), Bathory (Black Mark Tribute vol. 2, 1998), Cake (B-Sides and Rarities, 2007), Tesla (Real to Reel, 2007). Alex Skolnick Trio did a jazz instrumental cover on the album Goodbye to Romance (2002).
- Future Sabbath member Ronnie James Dio's early 1970s band, Elf, covered the song regularly in concert.
- The Flaming Lips have covered "War Pigs" regularly in concert.
- Arctic Monkeys often play part of the song during the live performance of "Arabella", from the Am album (2013).
In popular culture
- The Hungarian band Warpigs is named after the song.
- It is featured in the video game Guitar Hero II (2006).
- It is featured in the trailer for the video game Gears of War 3 (2011).
- "War Pigs" has been remixed in the theatrical trailer for the film 300: Rise of an Empire (2014).
- 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.
- Example:"Flaming Lips perform War Pigs".
- "Arctic Monkeys - Live At The Fillmore, Miami Beach". clashmusic.com. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" Featured In Gears Of War 3 Trailer". guitarworld.com. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ Featured in Trailer for ’300: Rise of an Empire’". loudwire.com. Retrieved 8 March 2014.