Prime Cuts: Tony Iommi
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1975)
“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was a real turning point for us. We started getting more involved in what we thought we should sound like, not what other people thought we should sound like. We had a good time in L.A. and we moved back there for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, hoping to recreate the sound of Vol. 4. Musically, we liked that drug-oriented sound. [laughs] So we went back to L.A. and rented the same house, the same studio, the same drugs, everything. But we weren’t able to create anything there, so we returned to England.
“We started thinking the band didn’t ‘have it’ any more, and we knew we had to do something to get ‘it’ back. So we rented an old castle in Wales and rehearsed in its spooky old dungeon. After we wrote ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,’ things just started coming fast and furious again.”
Technical Ecstasy (1976)
“Black Sabbath fans generally don’t like much of Technical Ecstasy. It was really a no-win situation for us. If we had stayed the same, people would have said we were still doing the same old stuff. So we tried to get a little more technical, and it just didn’t work out very well.
“We recorded the album in Miami, and nobody would take responsibility for the production. No one wanted to bring in an outside person for help, and no one wanted the whole band to produce it. So they left it all to me!”
Never Say Die (1978)
“Right before we were supposed to record Never Say Die, Ozzy quit the band. We never wanted him to leave, and I think he wanted to come back—but no one would tell the other how they felt. So we had to bring in another singer and write all new material. Then, two days before we were finally ready to record again, Ozzy decided to come back. But he wouldn’t sing any of the stuff we had written without him! Bill had to sing on one track because Ozzy refused to sing it. We ended up having to write in the day so we could record in the evening, and we never had time to review the tracks and make changes. As a result, the album sounds very confused.
“The problems with Ozzy continued, and eventually we knew we had to bring in somebody else. Geezer and Bill would say to me, ‘Either Ozzy goes or we go.’ At that point, Bill was becoming the businessman of the band, with his briefcase and his haircut, and he fucking goes and tells Ozzy, ‘Tony wants to get rid of you.’ [laughs] To this day, Ozzy thinks that I fired him on my own, when it was really the other two who wanted him out. But I wasn’t pleased with him either.
“Mixing the album even caused my marriage to break up. As with Technical Ecstasy, everyone went on a holiday when it came time to mix. My wife kept asking, ‘How come you’re the only one working while everyone is in bloody Barbados?’ ” [laughs]
Heaven and Hell (1980)
“After going through 11 months of frustration with Ozzy, Ronnie James Dio was a great addition to the band. He had a new way of looking at things, and it gave us a new approach. Ronnie was very excited about joining the band, but I think it was difficult for him to fill Ozzy’s shoes. We tried to make it as easy on Ronnie as we could because, even though we went out on a limb firing Ozzy, we believed in what we were doing—and it worked.”
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