Witchy woman on the cover of Black Sabbath's eponymous first album finally identified

It is kind of hard to imagine that it's taken until 2020 for the identity of the woman on the cover of Black Sabbath's heavy metal masterpiece, Black Sabbath, to finally be known. The woman has been identified as Louisa Livingston. The image was shot by photographer and album designer, Keith "Keef" Macmillan.

The photographer opted for Oxfordshire's Mapledurham Watermill because it fit the band's sound in his opinion. Louisa told Rolling Stone:

"I remember it was freezing cold. I had to get up at about 4 o'clock in the morning. Keith was rushing around with dry ice, throwing it into the water. It didn't seem to be working very well, so he ended up using a smoke machine.

"It was just, 'Stand there and do that.' I'm sure he said it was for Black Sabbath, but I don't know if that meant anything much to me at the time."

As a teenage headbanger, I spent countless record-spinning hours poring over every inch of this haunting cover, completely enthralled by the creepy building and the beautiful pale-green witch in front of it. It is probably a good thing that I (and every other pubescent teen boy listener) was ignorant of this fact:

"She wasn't wearing any clothes under that cloak because we were doing things that were slightly more risqué, but we decided none of that worked.

"Any kind of sexuality took away from the more foreboding mood. But she was a terrific model. She had amazing courage and understanding of what I was trying to do."

Read the rest on Ultimate Guitar. Here is a Rolling Stone interview with Keith Macmillan about the creation of the cover.

Louisa Livingston is an ambient musician. You can hear her music project, Indreba, on Bandcamp.

Here is an image of the Mapledurham Watermill, the 15th-century building in Oxfordshire, England, used as the location for the cover shoot.

Image: Inset of cover art for Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath; Mapledurham Watermil, Chris Wood, CC BY-SA 4.0