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TONY IOMMI: HOW I WROTE THE RIFF TO SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE

Black Sabbath’s guitarist revealed the secret behind metal’s greatest riff to Loudersound webzine. Here is the whole interview:
When we recently drew up a list of the Top 50 Greatest Riffs Ever, there was only ever going to be one winner: Black Sabbath’s mighty Symptom Of The Universe. We asked the man behind it, the legend that is Tony Iommi, how he created this immortal noise – and whether he’s ever come up with a riff on the toilet.

Can you remember where you were when you came up with the riff for Symptom Of The Universe?

Tony Iommi: “Oh my god, it was a long time ago. I can’t remember, to be completely truthful. I imagine we would have probably been in rehearsal.”

Is that how you used to come up with riffs – in rehearsal?

“Generally, yeah. Sometimes I’ve come up with stuff at home and taped it just to remember it, but I don’t really work things out as such.”

You make it sound easy…

“Dare I say it, but yeah, I’ve not had much trouble coming up with riffs. Now I’ve said it, I’ll probably never come up with another one. But I’ve got hundreds of them from over the years on various CDs. Some of them go back to the original Sabbath, some from the Dio era, bits and bobs from when [Deep Purple’s] Ian Gillan or [former vocalist] Tony Martin were in the band. I don’t even know what’s on there. I keep threatening to sit down and listen to them all one of these days when I get the chance.”

Back when you were writing Symptom Of The Universe, which guitarists were you in competition with?

“Me. I was in competition with myself. I would always try to come up with more and more inventive ideas – different tunings, changing the amps, just fiddling about with the guitars really. I would constantly be trying to improve things and change things. I didn’t really listen to other people, just in case I started playing someone else’s riff by mistake.”

The second half of Symptom Of The Universe heads off into weird, prog-jazz territory. Was that you deliberately setting out to write a prog-metal song?

“No, that was just us jamming together. It was something I came up with and Geezer [Butler, bass] and Bill [Ward, drums] followed, and then Ozzy came in. But then a lot of Sabbath’s stuff went to places you didn’t think they would go. I remember when we had Ronnie Dio with us, I played him the track Die Young [which ended up on Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell album]. It went into this completely different tempo, and he went, ‘You can’t do that!’ I went, ‘Of course we can. It’s what we’ve always done.’”

What are your memories of making the Sabotage album?

“Oh, it was a nightmare. We had a court case with our ex-manager, Patrick Meehan, while we were in the middle of making the album. We’d get a writ and we’d end up having to go into bloody court in the morning, all dressed up, then try to get back to the studio afterwards to carry on working. It was hard to come up with things. You had to have two heads.”

Did that aggro feed into the album?

“Certainly with Geezer’s lyrics. He wrote one called The Writ, so it influenced him, that’s for sure. I think the aggression definitely came out in the music when we played together. There is some really heavy stuff on that record.”

Is it true that The Writ was inspired by a lawyer unexpectedly turning up at the studio to serve you with legal papers?

“That’s exactly what happened. They used to turn up all the bloody time. We never knew they were coming. If we did, we’d have disappeared sharpish.”

Sabotage took nearly a year to record. Was there ever a point where you thought you might not make it to the end?

“No, I’ve never felt like that. We’ve always fought through whatever was there. Without the music, we’d have all gone bloody loony. I think it actually it brought us all together as a band. Whenever we went through problems, we’d just fight through it together.”

The Sabotage album cover. What’s going on there?

“Ha ha ha! A guy who worked for us who was an artist, he came up with a great idea – us reflected in a mirror, stuff like that. But when it got to the day, somebody said to Bill, ‘What are you gonna wear?’ And he was, like, ‘I dunno.’ So he turned to his wife and said, ‘Can I borrow your tights?’ So he put on this pair of his wife’s red tights. And I think he might have borrowed Ozzy’s underpants, too. It looked bloody ridiculous. It definitely didn’t come out like we wanted it to.”

When was the last time you came up with a riff and thought, ‘Ooh, that’s a bit tasty’?

“Well, I’ve got a few that I haven’t used yet that were good. There’s about four or five from the last Sabbath album 13 I that we didn’t use. I listened to a CD with them on recently. I thought, ‘Blimey, that’s good, why didn’t we use it?’”

What are you going to do with all these unused riffs that you have lying around? Use them on a solo album? Or maybe Save them for a new Sabbath album?

“It won’t be a Sabbath album, I don’t think. I really don’t know. I’ve just had [engineer] Mike Exeter over to my house, and we put some ideas down, though. I’m getting dates off Mike to see when he’s available, but really it’s down to me to go through some of the things I’ve already got. Problem is, by the time I’ve gone through them, I’ll have come up with something else.”

We’ve talked about Symptom Of The Universe. But what’s your favourite Tony Iommi riff?

“Oh my god, that’s difficult. I like Into The Void. And I like some of the stuff we did with Dio – Heaven And Hell was a good riff, Neon Knights. There’s so many I like. I like pretty much all the stuff we’ve done.”

Apart from your own, what’s the greatest riff of all time?

“That’s even harder. There’s so many great riffs out there from the past, and up to date stuff. But you’ve got to have Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water. And of course there are a lot of Zeppelin songs. Jimmy Page has some great riffs.”

Have you ever had a riff come into your head while you’ve been sitting on the toilet?

“Ha ha! Oh yeah. I have riffs that come in all the time at different times, different places. You never know when the magic’s going to strike.”


By Dave Everley for Metal Hammer, Loudersound.com, 20 January 2019
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TONY WILL HELP JUDGE THE 2019 PRIDE OF BRUM EVENT

Pride of Birmingham celebrity judge revealed to be Tony Iommi!

The annual awards, now in their sixth year, celebrate courage, caring, compassion and community, recognising unsung heroes who make a difference.

For Sabbath star Tony, it will be his second year in the judging hot seat. “I’d been to Pride of Birmingham before,” he says. “But until last year as a presenter, not as a judge. It was humbling to read of the amazing achievements and extraordinary efforts of the shortlisted nominees. Helping pick the winners was one of the toughest things I’ve done. I’m looking forward to looking through this year’s nominations. There are some fantastic people doing fantastic things in and around Birmingham.”

The Birmingham Mail’s Pride of Birmingham Awards, with partners TSB, will be hosted at the University of Birmingham in March.

BirminghamMail.co.uk, 20 January 2019
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VIP CEREMONY WITH BLACK SABBATH WILL TAKE PLACE IN BRUM

Hundreds of Black Sabbath fans are expected to watch their favourite band being presented with a ‘heavy metal’ bench at a VIP ceremony in Birmingham next month. The uniquely designed steel bench – incorporating images of the band’s original four members – will eventually be placed on the renamed Black Sabbath Bridge across the canal on Birmingham’s Broad Street.

Black Sabbath fans have been invited to apply for a limited supply of 350 tickets to attend the heavy metal bench presentation ceremony at 11am on Saturday 9 February at St Luke’s Church on Gas Street. The tickets are already SOLD OUT in few hours.

Mike Olley, manager of Westside Business Improvement District (BID), said: “We’re so excited to be arranging this spectacular event when we expect Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward to accept the bench, honouring what’s arguably Birmingham’s most famous band.”
Black Sabbath super-fan Mohammed Osama, who initiated the commemorative idea and has worked closely with Westside BID on the project, said: “I’m thrilled that my plan to pay tribute to Black Sabbath in their home town has finally reached this presentation stage. The handmade, stainless steel bench is now being forged in the city and will feature images of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward for Black Sabbath fans, citizens and tourists to enjoy.”

The bench artwork was created by Egyptian artist Tarek Abdelkawi – an illustrator, graphic designer and musician with an architectural background – and the words ‘Geezer. Ozzy. Tony. Bill. Made in Birmingham 1968’ will be etched on it. The artwork has been applied by Etch Components, based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, and is being incorporated into the bench’s final manufacture by Gateway Steel Fabricators, based in Tyseley.

Ben Lungley, of Gateway Steel Fabricators, said: “We love making unique products and it’s been a delight working on this project with Mohammed and Westside BID. It’s a tricky process incorporating the design in steel and making the artwork come to life, but the end-product will be stunning.”

Mike Olley of Westside BID also revealed the event will see Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward awarded his own star on the city’s Walk of Stars, which honours famous people from Birmingham. He said this star, along with those previously awarded to the other three band members and a fifth star to the band itself, will be realigned in the shape of a cross in front of the heavy metal bench on Black Sabbath Bridge. Both the heavy metal bench and new stars will be presented at the 9 February event by Birmingham’s renowned comedian Jasper Carrott, chair of the city’s Walk of Stars project.

Mr Olley said Westside BID was grateful to Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment on Birmingham City Council, for helping gain permission to rename the canal bridge as Black Sabbath Bridge. Mr Olley added: “Black Sabbath’s most ardent fans will be keen to witness this historic event and tens of thousands will enjoy visiting the heavy metal bench once it’s in place on Black Sabbath Bridge.”

Black Sabbath’s heavy metal bench presentation is at 11am on Saturday 9 February at St Luke’s Gas Street Church, 41 Gas Street, Birmingham B1 2JT. Tickets are priced at £12 each and the proceeds will be donated to the Westside Charitable Endeavour, dedicated to recording the area’s historical attributes.


Yourwestsidestory.com, 19 January 2019
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BLACK SABBATH TO BE HONOURED WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT GRAMMY

Black Sabbath will be honoured by The Recording Academy in the next year for contributing to “our cultural heritage”.

The Recording Academy has revealed the names of the artists who will be given a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2019. And among the names revealed are Black Sabbath, who will be honoured at a ceremony in Los Angeles on May 11.

The annual award is given to artists who have "made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording". The Recording Academy praise Black Sabbath for inventing “the heavy metal signposts" that "influenced every heavy rock band that followed.”

Sabbath wrapped up their last-ever tour in their home town of Birmingham in February last year, with both Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi later saying that it might be possible for them to get back together to play at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Blabbermouth.net, 20 December 2018
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ENGINEER MIKE EXETER TELLS ABOUT 13 ALBUM SESSIONS

Engineer, producer and musician Mike Exeter recently spoke to Australia's "The Void With Christina" about his work on Black Sabbath's reunion album, "13". The first Sabbath effort in 35 years to feature founding members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler was written over an 18-month period at Tony's home, Ozzy's house and Angelic Studios in Northampton, England before recording sessions began at Shangri-La studio in Malibu with producer Rick Rubin.

"[Tony and I] got into a routine where we would start putting ideas down [in the studio]," Mike recalled about the early songwriting sessions that resulted in "13". "Because he doesn't wanna play people stuff off his phone; he wants to have a catalog of songs. So we would start putting ideas down and come up with a drum pattern that would maybe suit a specific riff that we thought might be worth looking at. And then I'd throw some bass on, I'd program the drums, and maybe we'd put some keyboards or orchestration. And a main riff or a song might come out of one of those moments. And over a period of maybe two days in a week, we'd develop those and we'd maybe go, 'It's just a riff. Let's put it down and just call that a day.' Or it might turn into a song. Always with the idea that a singer's come along and do their best with it. So what might feel like a verse riff to somebody could be a chorus or anything to someone else. So this would go on. And the real first thing that was born out of that was the Heaven & Hell album ['The Devil You Know'] with Ronnie [James Dio], and that then developed into writing sessions and things like that. So, when we got to the Sabbath album, '13', we knew Ozzy was gonna come and have a listen to some ideas. And he came up just after Christmas 2010. We played him an hour and a half's worth of stuff, and that was only half of what we got prepared that was relevant to what Ozzy would sing. Because we got stuff that wouldn't be right for Ozzy, 'cause Tony kind of knew what Ozzy liked."

Asked if Tony writes music with a specific singer in mind, Mike said: "He writes for himself, but he knows it's not precious, and he'll change a riff if a singer needs him to. It was quite interesting. The dynamic between him and Ronnie was probably the masterclass of my life, because knowing their history, it was quite interesting watching them really concentrating on doing as much as possible to make the other one feel at ease. 'Cause they've had a pretty acrimonious fallout over the years, and they'd come back together, and it was so lovely — the feeling was always good. So they were constantly pushing each other, and it was always, like, 'Oh, do you mind if I change this chord? Will that affect you?' 'No, no. I can sing that.' Or, 'I've come up with this idea. Do you think that affects what you've played?' And Geezer would always be there in the middle, going, 'I really like that. That's good.' Or, 'How about we try that?' So it was this lovely, quiet environment. And the same thing was happening with '13'."

According to Exeter, two years passed between Sabbath's first meeting with Rubin and the completion of "13". "It only took that long because Tony was diagnosed with cancer halfway through," he explained. "We would have been recording a year earlier if his diagnosis hadn't come through. But that gave the whole project time to develop. The boys got to really know each other again as a working relationship. Because they hadn't written together properly for years. They had a little stint after the reunion in '99-2000, but that didn't really go anywhere."

"13" went to No. 1 in both the U.S. and the U.K., a first for the band in America and only their second chart-topper in their native country since 1971.

Blabbermouth.net, 20 December 2018
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EMERALD SABBATH: NINTH STAR A NEW TRIBUTE TO BLACK SABBATH

A new tribute to our Gods Black Sabbath will soon see the light of a day! This is the story of how an Irish nuclear construction safety inspector brought 10 former members of BLACK SABBATH together to produce a tribute album to one of the greatest bands ever.
The "Ninth Star" album by EMERALD SABBATH is an ambitious epic rock and classical music tribute to BLACK SABBATH.

"Ninth Star" features 10 former members of BLACK SABBATH and much more, including:
* Adam Wakeman (BLACK SABBATH, OZZY OSBOURNE) * Bev Bevan (BLACK SABBATH, ELO) * Neil Murray (BLACK SABBATH, WHITESNAKE) * Terry Chimes (BLACK SABBATH, THE CLASH)
* Laurence Cottle (BLACK SABBATH, THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT) * Ron Keel (BLACK SABBATH, KEEL) * Vinny Appice (BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN & HELL) * Dave Walker (BLACK SABBATH, FLEETWOOD MAC) * Bobby Rondinelli (BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW) * Tony Martin (BLACK SABBATH, HEADLESS CROSS) * Rudy Sarzo (OZZY OSBOURNE, WHITESNAKE) * The English Chamber Choir

Other EMERALD SABBATH contributors include Will Malone and Mike Lewis ("Sabotage", "Technical Ecstasy"), Mike Exeter (BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST), Skaila Kanja (Royal Academy Of Music) plus BLACK SABBATH album graphic designers Richard Manning and Colin Elgie ("Technical Ecstasy") and Hugh Gilmour ("Born Again").

EMERALD SABBATH founder/producer Michael Suilleabhain states about "Ninth Star": "I have been a BLACK SABBATH fan since 1983, when I heard them for first time. Like a lot of fans, it was BLACK SABBATH's debut album I heard first, and as they say, the rest is history. Over the years, I have since seen BLACK SABBATH a total of 82 times with every lineup [except with Ray Gillen]. I also have a great passion for classical music, and in May 2015 I decided to mix both of them. Adam Wakeman was the first to contribute to the project, with keyboards on 'Changes', and then it snowballed into this final product.

"I decided to re-record BLACK SABBATH tracks and instrumentals with as many as ex-members of BLACK SABBATH as possible. A lot of the artists also played on the originals (such as Vinny Appice, who joined SABBATH on drums for the 'Heaven And Hell' tour, and The English Chamber Choir on 'Supertzar'). I then brought in a string quartet along with various classical players. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be able to do this, but my persistence paid off. I would like to thank all the ex-BLACK SABBATH guys for helping me with this, as well as the former BLACK SABBATH graphic designers, string arrangers and producers. I hope that everyone will enjoy this album.”

"Ninth Star" will be released on February 15, 2019 via Plastic Head Distribution.

Track listing and credits:

"Embryo" - Adam Wakeman: Keyboards, Bev Bevan: Percussion, Laurence Cottle: Bass, Anneka Sutcliffe: Violin, Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet

"Die Young" - Ron Keel: Vocals, Vinny Appice: Drums, Rudy Sarzo: Bass, DC Cothern: Guitar, Pete Rinaldi: Guitar, Ellen Morgan: Keyboards

"Fluff" - Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet, Ardeton String Quartet, Pete Rinaldi: Guitar
"Trashed" - Ron Keel: Vocals, Vinny Appice: Drums, Bev Bevan: Percussion, Laurence Cottle: Bass, Pete Rinaldi: Guitar
"Stonehenge" - Adam Wakeman: Keyboards, Laurence Cottle: Bass, Pete Rinaldi: Guitar, Sarah Tobias: Flute
"She's Gone" - Dave Walker: Vocals, Neill Murray: Bass, Bill Dwyer: Drums, Ardeton String Quartet, Lisa Ljungberg: Backing Vocals
"In For The Kill" - Tony Martin: Vocals, Laurence Cottle: Bass, Bobby Rondinelli: Drums, Pete Rinaldi: Guitars, Adam Wakeman: Keyboards
"Orchid" - Neil Murray: Bass, Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet, Ardeton String Quartet, Pete Rinaldi: Guitar
"Hole In The Sky" - Ron Keel: Vocals, Bobby Rondinelli: Drums, Laurence Cottle: Bass, Pete Rinaldi: Guitar

"Changes" - Michael Suilleabhain: Vocals, Adam Wakeman: Keyboards, Laurence Cottle: Bass, Bev Bevan: Percussion, Queenie May: Backing Vocals, Annela Sutcliffe: Violin, Sarah Tobias: Flute/Clarinet

"Supertzar" - English Chamber Choir, Adam Wakeman: Keyboards, Terry Chimes: Drums, Laurence Cottle: Bass, Pete Rinaldi: Guitar, Skaila Kanja: Harp, Elen Morgan: Glockenspiel
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TONY IOMMI TO GUEST ON NEW CANDLEMASS ALBUM

Swedish doom metal legends Candlemass will release their 12th album, "The Door To Doom", on February 2019 via Napalm Records. The disc unsurprisingly follows the plotline mastermind, songwriter and bass player Leif Edling established in the past years: epic world-class doom metal that relies on slow mammoth riffing.

"The Door To Doom" features newly returned singer Johan Längqvist, who recently replaced Candlemass's frontman of the past six years, Mats Levén. Also appearing on the record is none other than Black Sabbath legend Tony Iommi, who contributes a guest solo to "Astorolus - The Great Octopus".

Commented Tony Iommi: "Candlemass are a major force in Scandinavian heavy rock and have always acknowledged the influence we had on their music. They asked if I'd contribute to a track which sounded pretty good so I thought, 'Why not?'"

Added Edling: "We feel very honoured that Tony Iommi said yes to play the solo on 'Astorolus'. The song was sent to the management and amazingly enough, the master agreed to let his mighty SG sing on the track! For me personally, this is a dream come true. Tony Iommi has always been my hero and guiding light when it comes to heavy music, so to hear that he likes the song and also would like to play on it gave me chills down the spine! I'm still in shock! But kudos to him to be so cool to even listen to it. Hats off! Tony Iommi is and will always be God!"

"The Door To Doom" track listing:
01. Splendor Demon Majesty

02. Under The Ocean

03. Astorolus - The Great Octopus (feat. Tony Iommi)

04. Bridge Of The Blind

05. Death's Wheel

06. Black Trinity

07. House Of Doom

08. The Omega Circle

Blabbermouth.net, 7 December 2018
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TONY'S NEW INTERVIEW WITH SCOTTISH HERALD

THE man who invented heavy metal is on the line. The man who, alongside bass player Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, thundered out of Birmingham in 1968 strafing the sky with round after round of gnarled riffs, siring hundreds upon hundreds of groups and changing the face of music for ever. The man who survived the bacchanalian excess of the 1970s and 80s when many of his friends did not. The man who ranks only slightly below Satan in the estimation of millions of metal disciples around the world.

“I just potter around,” says Tony Iommi when asked about his daily routine, his Black Country accent perfectly intact. Despite decades of globetrotting he still lives in the West Midlands with his fourth wife, Maria Sjoholm. The guitarist and chief songwriter in Black Sabbath is now 70 years old and called time on the band in 2017, five years after he was diagnosed with lymphoma, which was declared in remission in 2016. “I get up at 6.15am – which is very unlike me – and I have a regime of having my breakfast, taking the dog out, then I’ll play guitar for a while. The time just flies by. I’ve got a life now like everybody else.

“I have to be careful. I go to bed at a sensible hour. I have to anyway – I fall asleep if it’s late and I’m sitting down.” Iommi dissolves into laughter.

His longevity can be attributed in part to his positive outlook. “You’ve got to keep enjoying life,” he says. “Whatever it takes. I’m doing things now that I did in the 1970s – I’ve started collecting cars again. I’m buying cars I can’t f** get in because they’re too low.” He laughs again. “It’s always been a passion – fast cars and stuff. I’ve got a Ferrari 488, a McLaren 650S and a Bentley Bentayga. I don’t want a hundred cars. I want ones I can use. I like them. I enjoy them.”

Precisely how much Sabbath fans wish to know about the contents of Iommi’s garage is open to debate but next weekend the son of Italian immigrants will be appearing in Paisley and Edinburgh with the acclaimed rock journalist Phil Alexander. Their conversations will undoubtedly dwell mainly on matters musical – and there is much to discuss.

Across five decades with Black Sabbath Iommi has worked with many of the biggest names in late 20th-century rock, including singers Glenn Hughes, Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan – who describes his year with Sabbath in the early 1980s in this month’s Mojo magazine as “the longest party of my life” – and drummers Cozy Powell (The Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow) and Bev Bevan (The Move, ELO). Sabbath alone made 19 studio albums, the best of which are generally accepted to be the first five – the eponymous debut, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Is there a record Iommi thinks the group couldn’t have improved? “That’s a difficult question,” he replies after a long pause. “You always go ‘I could’ve done that’ or ‘I could’ve done this’ but I actually like the stuff we done with Dio as well – Heaven and Hell [released in 1980] and Mob Rules [1981]. I like those as well as the early Sabbath, of course.”

The ripple effect of those early records is hard to overstate. The list of bands who have acknowledged the colossal influence of Black Sabbath reads like a Who’s Who of rock and metal: Metallica, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters and countless others.

How does it feel to be responsible for so much music? “It’s fantastic,” he says. “I’d never have thought that would happen and it amazes me even now. It’s great to have been able to create something that’s still there after all these years and got bigger and bigger. The amount of bands I’ve met over the years from Metallica onwards who have praised me for coming up with the ideas has been brilliant. It’s almost a bit embarrassing.” Iommi laughs again.

At the core of the ideas to which he refers lies one thing: the riff. Having created the likes of Paranoid, Sweet Leaf, Supernaut and dozens of other staples of rehearsal rooms and guitar shops from Aberdeen to Adelaide, Iommi is the undisputed king of the metal riff – no mean feat considering he lost the tops of the ring and middle fingers on his right hand as a teenager and was advised by doctors to abandon his dream of playing guitar.

“If I’m coming up with a riff it has to really grab me and I have to go: ‘Yeah!’” he says, matter-of-factly. “I’ve got waylaid at certain times – with some of the stuff I look back and go ‘I could’ve done that better’ – but it’s something that grabs you when you come up with a riff. Is it a riff you can sing over or can it only be an opening riff? That’s how I work anyway.”

Who were the guitarists he was trying to emulate in the early days? “In them days there weren’t much around,” he replies. “There was [Led] Zeppelin and Cream – I liked [Eric] Clapton – and we done a few gigs in the early days with John Mayall, who I really liked. I liked blues played on a more modern sounding guitar, which was Clapton of course. That was sort of the way we went, only coming up with more doomy stuff.”

And where did those leanings come from? “It’s probably because I was so miserable,” he says, laughing. “No … It was one of those things. I used to love going to see horror films and Geezer and myself used to go to the midnight movies. We were trying to get the tension you have in a horror film.

“It’s funny because a few years ago I interviewed Sir Christopher Lee and he was going: ‘You are the king of heavy metal’ and all this stuff and I said: ‘Well, you’re the one who started it off.’”

Does Iommi still feel connected to the long-haired young guitarist trying to take a Hammer to electric blues? “Oh yeah,” he says. “It’s still within me. If I pick up a guitar now I’ll end up playing something doomy. I’ve got loads and loads and loads of riffs that I’ve got to get through so I still follow that same path. I put a lighter side on it as well – I do some acoustic stuff. I like both.”

While he misses performing, Iommi no longer wishes to revisit the lifestyle of the touring musician. “I love being on stage,” he says, “but I’ve had to stop touring because I can’t carry on finishing late and getting back to the hotel at five in the morning. It’s sad but I’m not writing myself off – I’m still well involved with playing, I’m still writing. I’ll be doing stuff soon but not so much touring.

“The older you get the more you feel it. When we were 20 we’d be up all night. We did try on the last tour but I was getting really tired.”
The road has taken its toll on many musicians of Iommi’s generation. Why do some survive and others don’t? “I don’t know. I’ve seen so many of my friends or people in the business who have done drugs and whatever else and died, from John Bonham onwards. John was a good friend. I’ve seen other friends go a similar way through drugs and alcohol abuse.

“You get lonely. You get bored in the hotel so you try to find something to do to be somewhere else. We saw it with Lemmy. He was the epitome of rock and roll. He was the one who would burn the candle at both ends all the time but at some point you’ve got to look at it and say, ‘I can’t do that any more.’”

Or the decision is taken out of your hands. “Absolutely, yeah. Even with Keith Richards, I’m amazed he’s still pottering on. I take my hat off to him.”

With his own hellraising days over, Iommi is both philosophical and upbeat about his past, present and future. “Music’s always been the love of my life,” he says. “It’s made my life and sometimes it’s caused me problems. When I was married before … Your music takes over and you end up being in the studio all night and touring and your marriage becomes lost, but now I’m very, very happy.”

Sean Guthrie for ScottishHerald.com, 12 October 2018
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TEN YEAR WAR BOX WINS THE AIM AWARDS


Black Sabbath’s limited edition vinyl boxset The Ten Year War, an impressive collection of the first eight albums from the iconic metal band, was named Best Creative Packaging at the eight edition of the AIM Awards, held on September 4 in London.

The Ten Year War marks the third consecutive success at the AIM Awards where a BMG catalog release has been recognized. Peter Stack, Executive Vice President Global Catalog Recordings, said “We’re incredibly proud to have delivered a timeless boxset that embodies the importance of Black Sabbath, and much like their music, leaves a lasting impression on those who own it.

Released in September 2017, The Ten Year War boxset includes a number of rarities as well as ‘The Ten Year War’ brochure, all housed within exclusive artwork created by renowned street artist, graphic designer and activist Shepard Fairey.

With a discography spanning over 40 years, Black Sabbath is easily one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have sold over 75 million records, including over 24 platinum albums in the UK alone and over 15 million albums in the US.
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