Tony Iommi en Heaven & Hell with Tony Iommi: Overcoming Overwhelming Odds, and the Right Way to Play "Paranoid" <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This entry is taken from the </em>Guitar World<em> archive</em>.</p> <p>Hello there! Welcome to my first <em>Guitar World</em> column. </p> <p>I'm looking forward to sharing with you in these pages my thoughts on playing, equipment and the music business. Actually, this isn't the first time I've written a column—I used to do one many years ago for an English music magazine called <em>Beat Instrumental</em>. </p> <p>I did it for about eight months and it was great fun, and I'm sure this one will be too.</p> <p><strong>NEVER SAY DIE</strong></p> <p>Although my handicap has received quite a bit of press over the years, a lot of people are very surprised when they find out that I'm missing two fingertips from my fretboard (right) hand. (I'm a lefty.) After all, that is a fairly serious affliction for a guitarist. </p> <p>Specifically, I lost the tips of my middle and ring fingers in an accident I had at work-they got caught in a piece of machinery. Ironically, the day the accident happened was my last day at that job before turning professional musician, as I was all set to go to Germany on tour with a band. The timing couldn't have been worse-not that there's ever a good time to cut off the ends of two of your fingers! </p> <p>As you can imagine, it was an awful experience and I went through a terrible period of depression because I was convinced that my guitar playing days were over for good. I went to dozens of different doctors and hospitals and they all said, "Forget it. You're not going to be able to play guitar again."</p> <p>While I was down in the dumps though, a friend of mine, who happened to be my foreman at work, brought me a record of [world-renowned Gypsy jazz guitarist] Django Reinhardt who, at the time, I'd never heard of before. My friend said, "Listen to this guy play," and I went, "No way! Listening to someone play the guitar is the very last thing I want to do right now!" </p> <p>But he kept insisting and he ended up playing the record for me. I told him I thought it was really good and then he said, "You know, the guy's only playing with two fingers on his fretboard hand because of an injury he sustained in a terrible fire." I was totally knocked back by this revelation and was so impressed by what I had just heard that I suddenly became inspired to start trying to play again.</p> <p>I tried playing right-handed for a while but that didn't work out for me so I bandaged my two damaged fingers together and started playing lefty again using just my first (index) and little fingers. I then decided to go a step further by trying to bring my two injured fingers back into the game. </p> <p>What I did was this: I melted down a "Fairy Liquid" [an English dishwashing detergent] bottle, made a couple of blobs of the plastic and then sat there with a hot soldering iron and melted holes in them so they'd fit on the tips of my injured fingers, kind of like thimbles. When I got the caps to fit comfortably, I ended up with these big balls on the ends of my fingers, so I then proceeded to file them down with sandpaper until they were approximately the size of normal fingertips.</p> <p>It took me quite a while to get them exactly right because they couldn't be too heavy or thick but had to be strong enough so they didn't hurt the ends of my fingers when I used them. When I had sculpted my "thimbles" to the right size and tested them I realized that the ends weren't gripping the strings so I cut up a piece of leather and fixed pieces to the ends of them. I then spent ages rubbing the leather pads so they would get shiny and absorb some oils and would help me grip the strings better. I filed down the edges so they wouldn't catch on anything and it worked!</p> <p>Once I had done this it took me quite a while to get used to bending and shaking strings with those two fingers because I obviously couldn't feel anything. It was difficult to even know where my fingers were and where they were going. It was just a matter of practicing and persevering with it, using my ears to compensate for my lost tactile sense.</p> <p>In the years since my story was publicized more than a few musicians who have had similar afflictions have told me that my "never say die" attitude has inspired them to keep going. However bad something may seem at first, you've got to try to overcome it because sometimes the "impossible" is possible. It was really depressing at first, but after hearing Django, I just wouldn't accept defeat. I was sure there had to be a way around my problem.</p> <p><strong>PARANOID: THE RIGHT WAY</strong></p> <p>Anyway, that's enough about my missing fingertips! Let's finish up this first column with some music. Over the years a lot of guitar magazines and books have transcribed my "Paranoid" main riff but nearly all of them did so incorrectly. </p> <p>They invariably get the notes right but the position on the neck is always wrong. I saw one recently that made the same old mistake. Nearly everyone (most professional transcribers included) assumes that I play the E5 power chord that the riff is based around on the 5th and 4th strings at the 7th fret. Well, I don't! I play the chord on the 6th and 5th strings at the 12th fret. </p> <p>I play it here because, to my ears, the E5 power chord at the 12th fret definitely sounds darker and more ominous than the 7th fret grip. (Compare both figures by playing them back-to-back and you'll hear exactly what I mean.) So, the correct way to play the opening riff to "Paranoid" is as shown in FIGURE 1.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>Regarding the three grace-note hammer-ons that occur on the 5th string at the very beginning of the riff-they're definitely played by "feel" and will sound wrong if you perform them too quickly or too slowly. </p> <p>To get them right, listen to the recording carefully a few times until you've memorized the way that part of the riff sounds. Like the saying goes, "if you can hum it, you can play it!" </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Black Sabbath Ozzy Osbourne Tony Iommi Blogs News Lessons Magazine Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:04:19 +0000 Tony Iommi 15005 at Inventing the Steel: How to Solo Like Angus Young, Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi <!--paging_filter--><p>Regarded by many as the three most vital purveyors of pure hard rock/heavy metal sonic evil, AC/DC’s <strong>Angus Young</strong>, Led Zeppelin’s <strong>Jimmy Page</strong> and Black Sabbath’s <strong>Tony Iommi</strong> have each forged a distinct, instantly recognizable guitar style and sound. </p> <p>After decades of dedicated service, all three players continue to influence countless up-and-coming metalheads the world over, and an in-depth study of each guitarist’s distinct musical personality is mandatory for any aspiring hard rock player.</p> <p>Young, Page and Iommi share a few similarities in their respective crafts. </p> <p>All three have relied on Gibson solidbody/dual-humbucker-style guitars for the majority of their careers, inspiring signature models of their respective axes: Angus Young has favored Gibson SG-type guitars and has his own Gibson signature model; Jimmy Page is most closely associated with the 1959 sunburst Les Paul, replicated in limited quantity by Gibson (with a retail price of more than $20,000); and Tony Iommi’s long association with the ’61 SG led to the creation of the similarly designed Gibson Tony Iommi model (as well as the custom-made SG-type Patrick Eggle and JayDee models that Iommi also uses). When soloing, all three guitarists most often use the bridge pickup. </p> <p>Armed with their respective axes, the three defined the sound of metal in the late Sixties and early Seventies by relying on specific amplification: Jimmy Page favors Marshall SLP-1959 100-watt amps modified with KT-88 tubes, while also employing Voxes, Hiwatts, Fender Super Reverbs and Orange amps. </p> <p>Angus Young has generally used Marshall 100-watt “Plexi” models along with JTM-45 “Plexis.” Iommi is also known for his use of Marshall and Orange gear and has long been a fan of Laney amplification; he even has his own Laney 100-watt signature amplifier.</p> <p>Another commonality among the three guitar gods is their choice of scale for soloing. In the spirit of their American blues guitar heroes, all three rely most heavily on the minor pentatonic scale. <strong>FIGURE 1a</strong> shows the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G) played in fifth position; <strong>FIGURE 1b</strong> shows the same scale as played in an extended pattern that traverses the neck from the third fret to the 12th. The root notes are circled in each figure; once you have become familiar with these fingering patterns, be sure to move them to all other keys.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/1_5.png" width="620" height="113" alt="1_5.png" /></p> <p>Let’s now look at these two patterns one octave and 12 frets higher: <strong>FIGURE 2a</strong> depicts A minor pentatonic played in 17th position while <strong>FIGURE 2b</strong> shows an extended pattern that spans the 15th–22nd frets, ending with a whole step bend from D to E. Young, Page and Iommi all cover the highest reaches of the neck in many of their solos, so be sure to practice the minor pentatonic scales in every key and all over the fretboard.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/2_3.png" width="620" height="120" alt="2_3.png" /><br /> <br /><br /> <span style="font-size:18px;font-weight:bold;">Angus Young</span></p> <p>With his comedic school-boy outfit and hyperenergetic stage antics, Angus Young has been both celebrated and reviled for his over-the-top persona. But in truth, he is simply one of the greatest rock soloists ever. His intense, exciting playing style is equal parts adrenaline, blues rock fire, and precision, all of it spiked with a crash-and-burn attitude. In other words, it’s hard rock at its absolute best.</p> <p>One of Young’s greatest solos is the one he recorded in the AC/DC classic, “You Shook Me All Night Long” (<em>Back in Black</em>). <strong>FIGURE 3</strong> presents a solo played in this style: it’s played over a repeating I-IV-V-IV chord progression in the key of G—G-C-D-C—and is based primarily on the G minor pentatonic scale (G Bf C D F); bars 1–4 are played in third position, and then the next phrase shifts one octave higher to 15th position in bars 5–8. </p> <p>The figure begins with a whole-step bend from C to D on the G string that is sustained and played with vibrato for three beats. Use your ring finger to fret the note and both your ring and middle fingers to push the string, with the middle finger one fret behind the ring finger. This two-finger bending technique is known as reinforced fingering and is used extensively by Young as well as Page and Iommi. </p> <p>The first note in <strong>FIGURE 3</strong> is a prime example of Young’s signature bend vibrato: upon bending the string with the ring and middle fingers (the index finger may also be used to help push the string for additional strength and support), the bend is then repeatedly released partially—somewhere between a quarter step and a half step—and restored to a whole step (“full”) in quick, even rhythm. </p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/3_1.png" width="620" height="259" alt="3_1.png" /></p> <p>When executing this type of bend vibrato, you’ll find that it helps to push your fret-hand thumb against the top side of the neck, as this provides leverage for the fingers that are pushing and releasing the string. Young’s vibrato is relatively fast and not very wide and will require practice and keen listening to emulate authentically.</p> <p>The C-to-D bend is followed with an index-finger barre across the top two strings at the third fret, and in bar 2 the pinkie frets F (second string/sixth fret), followed by the same reinforced ring-finger bend and release on C (third string/fifth fret). At the end of bar 2, after fretting the G note, roll the tip of the ring finger from the fourth string over to the fifth string and then back. This “finger roll” may take some practice to get used to, but it’s a very useful technique that is worth learning. </p> <p>What makes a solo like this great is its simplicity and melodic quality. Each idea is balanced against the next in an effortless way, and the overall result is a memorable solo that one could easily sing—an earmark of every great hard rock guitar solo. </p> <p>Beginning in bar 5 of <strong>FIGURE 3</strong>, the second half of the solo relates to the first half in that it also leads off with a sustained bend, this time from a high F, the flatted seventh, to G, the root note, which is played vibrato in a similar manner. When playing minor pentatonic licks like these in high positions, many blues, blues/rock and hard rock players adopt a three-finger approach—index-middle-ring—for the majority of their licks, presumably because of the closeness of the frets. Young, however, chooses to use his pinkie in many of his licks, regardless of his fretboard position. </p> <p>I wrap the solo up in bar 8 by switching to a riff based on G major pentatonic (G A B D E). A staple of blues soloing is to alternate between the “sweet” sound of major pentatonic and the darker sound of minor pentatonic, and Young does just this in many of his solos. </p> <p>Another great example of Young’s masterful soloing can be heard on the title track to <em>Back in Black</em>. <strong>FIGURE 4</strong> shows a solo played in a similar style. This example is played over a simple repeating chord progression in the key of E: E-D-A (I-fVII-IV). The majority of the solo is based on the E minor pentatonic scale (E G A B D), although I begin with a phrase that incorporates notes from the E Dorian mode (E Fs G A B Cs D) by including the sixth, Cs. The placement of this pitch is critical in relation to the accompanying chord progression, as it lands on the A chord, and Cs is the major third of A. </p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/4.png" width="620" height="366" alt="4.png" /></p> <p>Like <strong>FIGURE 3</strong>, the goal with this example is to illustrate Young’s clear sense of melody and melodic development: <strong>FIGURE 4</strong> begins with a “hooky” phrase that is developed by descending the G string in a similar manner across the first two bars. At bar 3, I jump up to the 12th-position E minor pentatonic “box” pattern, beginning with a high D-to-E bend and vibrato that is sustained through the first two beats of the bar, followed by a fast phrase based on descending 16th-note triplets. </p> <p>The solo then stays rooted in 12th position through the remainder of bar 3, all the way to the end of bar 7. As with the high-position pentatonic licks in the previous example, the majority of these licks may be played comfortably with three fingers. </p> <p>Particularly noteworthy is the classic lightning-fast blues/rock/metal run that spans bar 7 of <strong>FIGURE 4</strong>: based entirely on descending 16th-note triplets, the run begins with a pull-off from a high G (first string/15th fret) to E (12th fret) followed by D (second string/15th fret). The next 16th-note triplet starts one note lower, on E, and is followed by a pull-off from D to B (15th fret to12th fret). The pattern of starting one note lower with each subsequent 16th-note triplet and using pull-offs wherever possible is repeated throughout the run. </p> <p>As the solo develops, analyze each beat and notice how the progression of the lines contributes to the overall phrase. Young is a master of “phrase-ology,” a skill/gift that lends an almost effortless quality to his solos and the feeling of constantly pushing the music forward and telling a story. </p> <hr /> <span style="font-size:18px;font-weight:bold;">JIMMY PAGE</span> <p>Jimmy Page was inspired by many of the same American blues guitar heroes as his British blues/rock contemporaries Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Peter Green. These heroes include the three Kings—Albert, B.B. and Freddie—as well as T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush. </p> <p>Page was also equally influenced by the fiery intensity of rockabilly guitarists Cliff Gallup (Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps) and Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley), as well as the futuristic daring of Les Paul. A student of many different styles of guitar playing, Page always combines in his solos a well-balanced structure and sense of melodic development with true depth of feeling. His progressive approach to soloing has pushed the nature of blues/rock guitar to previously unimagined territory. </p> <p><strong>FIGURE 5</strong> is an eight-bar solo representative of Page’s improvisation style. It’s played in the key of A minor over a repeating Am-G-F (i-fVII-fVI) chord progression. The majority of the solo is based on A minor pentatonic (A C D E G), beginning in fifth position with a D-to-E bend on the G string. This note is bent and shaken using the same reinforced fingering and thumb leveraging techniques described earlier in reference to <strong>FIGURE 3</strong>.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/5_0.png" width="620" height="351" alt="5_0.png" /></p> <p>This initial bend is followed by a stream of cascading 16th notes played across the next four beats on the top three strings, with notes quickly alternating between either the fifth and seventh frets or the fifth and eighth frets. Through the majority of this solo, a balance of eighth and 16th notes is achieved, giving the solo a forward-leaning quality as each phrase flows seamlessly into the next. </p> <p>Over an F chord in bars 2, 4, 6 and 8, I occasionally incorporate an F note into the A minor pentatonic-derived lines in order to clearly relate the solo line to the backing chord progression; this approach is a Page trademark. Adding this one note also serves to broaden the solo beyond the strict blues territory while also strengthening the melodic quality of the licks. </p> <p>Bar 5 begins with a descending run wherein a stream of 16th notes are phrased in two six-note groups that form an interesting melodic contour. A similar phrasing approach is used in bar 6 with successive four-note descending groups. The solo develops interestingly and builds to a climax in bars 7 and 8 with a repeated melodic “shape” that ascends the A minor pentatonic scale in seven-note phrases, starting from either the root note or the fifth each time. </p> <p>While this may sound overly analyzed, in truth it is the application of these melodic phrasing techniques that gives the solo its clear sense of structure, which is a hallmark of all of Page’s best lead work.</p> <hr /> <span style="font-size:18px;font-weight:bold;">TONY IOMMI</span> <p>As the progenitor of the heaviest of heavy metal, Tony Iommi set high standards for the writing of demonic-sounding riffs while he simultaneously created the template for the heavy metal soloing of future generations.</p> <p>As a teenager, Iommi, a left-handed player, was the victim of an unfortunate accident in which he lost the tips of his right hand’s middle and ring fingers while working in a sheet metal factory. Discouraged but not defeated, the resourceful guitarist devised plastic covers made from bottle caps to wear over those fingertips. </p> <p>In later years, he would wear custom–fitted leather finger protectors. Iommi also switched to using super light-gauge strings: .008, .008, .011, .018w, .024 and .032, which are much easier to fret and bend than a standard set of .009s or 010s. </p> <p>In its earliest days, Black Sabbath tuned to concert pitch, but soon after Iommi began tuning his strings down one half step (low to high: Ef Af Df Gf Bf Ef) and subsequently tuned down even further by one and a half steps (low to high: Cs Fs B E Gs Cs), all the while continuing to use very light strings. </p> <p>A signature element in the characteristically dark vibe of Iommi’s solos is the incorporation of minor modes. In his outro solo for “War Pigs” (<em>Paranoid</em>), Iommi utilizes the E Aeolian mode (E Fs G A B C D) along with E minor pentatonic (E G A B D). <strong>FIGURE 6</strong> illustrates a solo played with a similar approach. </p> <p>Within the key of E minor, the chord progression simply alternates between Em and D, and in his solo, Iommi’s ties his licks squarely to the chord progression with the use of chord tones that relate to each specific chord. Bars 1–4 of <strong>FIGURE 6</strong> demonstrate this approach by favoring the notes E and G, the root note and minor third, respectively, over Em, and the notes D and Fs, the root and major third, respectively, over D. The additional notes and overall phrasing serve to fill in the space and effectively set up the incorporation of these shifting chord tones (also known as guide tones). </p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/6_0.png" width="620" height="339" alt="6_0.png" /></p> <p>Another key aspect of Iommi’s soloing style that <strong>FIGURE 6</strong> demonstrates is the intensity of both the pick attack and vibrato. Iommi’s playing is well-loved for its aggressive power, so lean into the lines with both hands, and listen closely to his recorded works to get a clear picture of and feel for his playing style. </p> <p>Beginning on beat two of bar 5, I repeatedly bend E, third string/ninth fret, up one and one half steps (the equivalent of three frets) to G. When performing “overbends” like this, it’s even more important to harness the strength of at least two fingers, the ring and middle, if not three (the ring, middle and index). This is followed in bar 6 by fast whole-step bends that alternate with hammer-on/pull-of combinations between the seventh and ninth frets on the G string. This is a challenging lick that will take a bit of slow practice to master.</p> <p>In the second half of bar 7, I borrow a signature phrasing technique of Iommi’s, with a 16th-note run that descends the E Aeolian mode in three-note groups on a single string, using pull-offs and finger slides. This type of line serves to add both rhythmic and melodic interest to a pentatonic- or mode-based solo.</p> <p><strong>FIGURE 7</strong> offers another example of soloing in Iommi’s style, this time incorporating the detuning of one and one half steps. (All notes and chords sound in the key of C# minor, one and one half steps lower than written.) This example demonstrates Iommi’s penchant for using fast hammer-ons and pull-offs within repeated short phrases, as he does on his solo in “Supernaut” (Vol. 4).</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/7_0.png" width="620" height="365" alt="7_0.png" /></p> <p>The solo is based entirely on the E minor pentatonic scale, played in 12th position, and begins with a repeated phrase that starts with a quick hammer/pull on the first string from the 12th fret to the 15th, followed by D, second string/15th fret. This sequence is played four times through bar 1, and bar 2 consists entirely of trills in 12th position. (A trill is executed by quickly alternating between two notes, usually using hammer-ons and pull-offs in combination.) </p> <p>Bars 3 and 4 are similar in that both feature fast phrases based on 16th-note triplets; in bar 3, note bursts are performed with hammer/pulls on the D string, and in bar 4 the hammers occur on the G string. Bars 5 and 6 offer an example of the “threes on fours” concept—16th notes phrased in groups of three—and bars 7 and 8 wrap up the solo with fast hammer/pulls, played in 16th-nopte triplets, that traverse the strings, moving from high to low. </p> <p>In all of their solos, Young, Page and Iommi combine well-structured melodic ideas, solid execution and spirited performance—essential factors in any great, memorable guitar solo that you should strive to achieve in your own solos.</p> <p><em>Painting: Tim O'Brien</em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jimmy-page">Jimmy Page</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/andy-aledort">Andy Aledort</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/acdc">AC/DC</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/led-zeppelin">Led Zeppelin</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Angus Young Articles GW Archive JamPlay Jimmy Page May 2007 Tim O'Brien Tony Iommi In Deep with Andy Aledort News Features Lessons Magazine Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:23:56 +0000 Andy Aledort 19211 at Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi on Fighting with Skinheads, "War Pigs" Inspiration and More <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new March 2015 issue of <em>Guitar World</em>, which features an interview with Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. For the rest of this interview, plus our guide to the 30 greatest classic Black Sabbath songs, plus gear views, tabs, lessons and more, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=SabbathExcerpt">check out the March 2015 issue of GW at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></p> <p>It’s rare that a band emerges and, with one inspired release, simultaneously launches and perfects a genre of music. </p> <p>Such is the singular case of Black Sabbath. Their 1970 self-titled debut, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, took the heavy blues and hard-rock idioms that came before and infused them with anthemic tritone riffs, doom-laden drum tempos, maniacal vocals and diabolical lyrics. </p> <p>Black Sabbath’s pioneering sound would later be christened heavy metal, and in many people’s minds that album still reigns supreme as the best representation of the genre. Many influential bands in their own right have come along and made contributions to heavy music, but all of them—from Judas Priest and Van Halen to Metallica and Soundgarden—hail the supremacy of Black Sabbath. </p> <p>Below, enjoy an excerpt from <em>Guitar World</em>'s new interview with Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. Interestingly enough, Butler—who was arrested in California this past Tuesday for assault and vandalism—discussed fighting, including a brawl with skinheads that took place several decades ago.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: Geezer, you’ve mentioned before that “Fairies Wear Boots,” [from 1970’s <em>Paranoid</em>] was inspired by a confrontation you guys had with skinheads. Being a longhair yourself, did you run into a lot of problems in England back then?</strong></p> <p><strong>GEEZER BUTLER</strong> There used to be fighting all the time. I used to be a football [soccer] fan—well, I still am—and I’d go down to watch the [Aston] Villa [Football Club]. I had long hair at the time. </p> <p>Then this one day, the skinheads, or hooligans, turned on the people with long hair, even though we were fans too. So after that I couldn’t go down there. This other time we did this gig in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare [in North Somerset, England], and we had a fight with all these skinheads. I think that’s where the lyrics for “Fairies Wear Boots” came from.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Do you remember what kicked off the fight?</strong></p> <p><strong>BUTLER</strong> We didn’t get paid! [laughs] I was the one that used to go collect the check. We’d had this problem where we’d go collect our money and the guy would go, “Oh no, we sent the check in the post [mail].” We were promised that we’d get the money on the night, so I went to the promoter to get it. And he said, “Oh, I already sent it to your manager.” </p> <p>I went outside to the telephone to make a call to the manager and I got surrounded by all these bloody skinheads, going, “Kill him! Kill him!” So I had to time it right so I could throw the phone at them and leg it back into the gig. [laughs] I told Tony, and of course he said, “Come on, let’s go.” And he grabs a microphone stand and we went out for a battle with them. Fucking nuts.</p> <p><strong>Parental groups and decency nags always bemoan the satanic and occult allusions in Black Sabbath lyrics. But Geezer, you were also writing about current social issues, too, on the track “War Pigs.” Were you following the Vietnam War, Civil Rights movement and political unrest going on at the time in the United States?</strong></p> <p>It was actually being covered more [in the press] in England than in America. They had this program on in England, and it showed all the stuff that wasn’t being told to the American people. Stuff like how the president [Lyndon Johnson]’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson, had this road-building company. The Americans would go in and bomb all these roads [in Vietnam]. Then her company would go in and rebuild them and get the money. They weren’t saying all that in America. We wrote “War Pigs” because many American bands were frightened to mention anything about the war. So we thought we’d tell it like it is.</p> <p><strong>In 1971, you released <em>Master of Reality</em>, which saw the band experimenting a bit more with tracks like “Solitude” and the acoustic instrumental “Orchid.” Tony, had you always played acoustic or did you pick it up around that time?</strong></p> <p><strong>TONY IOMMI</strong> No, I never played acoustic that much at all really. I don’t even remember where we did that track, to be honest. I think the idea on the album was to have a bit of light and shade and relax it from the heavier stuff.</p> <p><strong>Speaking of heavier stuff, what were you coughing on during that intro to “Sweet Leaf”?</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> [laughs] I choked me bloody self! It wasn’t intended to happen, and it wasn’t supposed to be on the track. We were in the studio tracking that song, and Ozzy gave me a joint and I nearly choked myself. The tape was on, so of course they wanted to use it to begin the track.</p> <p><strong>BUTLER</strong> You couldn’t have gotten anything more appropriate for a song called “Sweet Leaf.” [laughs]</p> <p><strong>That’s the truth. But the title “Sweet Leaf” was actually inspired by a different type of smoke, right?</strong></p> <p><strong>BUTLER</strong> Yeah the name “Sweet Leaf” came from the [Irish brand of] cigarettes called Sweet Afton. I’d just come back from Dublin. Everyone smoked back then, so I’d be offering them all cigarettes. You’d open the top of the package and it said something like, “It’s the sweet leaf.” I thought, Hmmm, That’s a good title.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>The following year, Sabbath headed to Los Angeles’ Record Plant Studios to track <em>Vol. 4</em>, on which you broke new ground with “Changes.” It’s a piano ballad, and the lyrics are quite touching, which makes it a very unusual track for Sabbath.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> It was a sad track as well. We were staying in this house and there was a ballroom with a piano in it. It was back in the days of doing a bit of blow and staying up late. And I just started playing and coming up with this idea. We had a Mellotron and Geez started to play the orchestrations. It fit well and came about pretty quickly, considering we’d never done anything like that before.</p> <p><em>Photo: Ross Halfin</em></p> <p><strong><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new March 2015 issue of <em>Guitar World</em>, which features an interview with Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. For the rest of this interview, plus our guide to the 30 greatest classic Black Sabbath songs, plus gear views, tabs, lessons and more, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=SabbathExcerpt">check out the March 2015 issue of GW at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></strong></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Screen%20Shot%202015-01-29%20at%2010.15.18%20AM_0.png" width="620" height="812" alt="Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 10.15.18 AM_0.png" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Black Sabbath Geezer Butler March 2015 Tony Iommi Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:42:23 +0000 Brad Angle 23391 at Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi Reveals Heavy Metal’s Origins in New Animated Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Black Sabbath's Anthony Frank "Tony" Iommi was born 67 years ago today in Birmingham, England.</p> <p>As part of our ongoing celebration of Iommi's life and influential career, check out this just-posted animated video, part of’s new animated series, <em>The Complete History of Heavy Metal.</em></p> <p>As scores of <em>Guitar World</em> have known since we started publishing in 1980, Iommi lost the tops of two fingers on his fretting hand due to a tragic industrial accident in the distant, black-and-white past.</p> <p>In the video below, you'll find out how the guitarist made “a good thing off a bad thing.” This inaugural episode is titled "Fingers Bloody Fingers." Nice! That's Iommi narrating, of course. Get to it!</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:620px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe src="" width="620" height="365" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> <p style="text-align:left;background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;">Get More:<br /> <a href="" style="color:#439CD8;" target="_blank">Tony Iommi</a>, <a href="" style="color:#439CD8;" target="_blank">TV Shows</a>, <a href="" style="color:#439CD8;" target="_blank">Full Episode Video</a>, <a href="" style="color:#439CD8;" target="_blank">Reality TV Shows</a></p> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Black Sabbath Tony Iommi Videos News Thu, 19 Feb 2015 17:53:06 +0000 Guitar World Staff 23545 at Queen, Tony Iommi and Roger Daltrey Perform "I Want It All" in 1992 — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>We thought we'd drop in on Queen — Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor — who hosted the star-studded Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on April 20, 1992.</p> <p>Hey, why not?</p> <p>The show, which was witnessed by a crowd of 70,000-plus, took place at London's Wembley Stadium.</p> <p>Among the special guests that day were Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and the Who's Roger Daltrey, both of whom sat in for this spirited performance of "I Want it All," a track that originally appeared on Queen's <em>The Miracle</em> (1989).</p> <p>Queen singer Freddie Mercury had died the previous November 24.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/queen">Queen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brian-may">Brian May</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Brian May Queen Roger Daltrey Tony Iommi Videos News Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:44:18 +0000 Damian Fanelli 20616 at Tony Iommi Plays Black Sabbath's “Planet Caravan” Solo on Acoustic — Video Finds <!--paging_filter--><p><em>Classic Albums</em> is a DVD series that tells the stories behind some of rock’s most historic records. </p> <p>Below, watch an excerpt from their feature on Black Sabbath’s <em>Paranoid</em> album. </p> <p>As the second studio album from Sabbath, the album contains some of the band’s most beloved tracks, including “Iron Man,” “War Pigs” and “Paranoid.” </p> <p>Black Sabbath entered the studio to record <em>Paranoid</em> just four months following the release of their debut album, <em>Black Sabbath</em>.</p> <p>The band once again teamed with producer Rodger Bain.</p> <p>Originally titled <em>War Pigs</em>, the album title was allegedly changed to <em>Paranoid</em> by Sabbath’s label in order to avoid any backlash from supporters of the Vietnam War. </p> <p>Below, watch Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi play an acoustic version of the solo from the <em>Paranoid</em> track “Planet Caravan” using a Taylor T5s.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Acoustic Nation Black Sabbath Tony Iommi Blogs Videos Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:38:47 +0000 Acoustic Nation 21355 at Ozzy on “Final” Black Sabbath Show: “If It’s Good-Bye, We’re Ending On a High Note” <!--paging_filter--><p>In a recent interview with <em>Metal Hammer</em>, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi suggested that the band's July 4 show at Hyde Park, London, might its last. The gig is the final stop on Sabbath’s world tour in support of their 2013 album, <em>13</em>. </p> <p>"It could be the last-ever Sabbath show," Iommi said. "I don't want it to be, but there's nothing really planned touring-wise after that show, so for all we know that could be it really. To be honest, I don't want to be touring to this extent too much longer, because it makes me feel so bad."</p> <p>Aside from recording <em>13</em> and touring the world, Iommi has been <a href="">receiving treatment to fight lymphoma</a> since he was first diagnosed with the disease in early 2012. And while the guitarist's health is stable (he received his final treatment in March), the rigors of touring are starting to take their toll. </p> <p>We recently talked with singer Ozzy Osbourne, who had the following to say about the future of Black Sabbath.</p> <p>“I never say never,” says Osbourne. “I never thought after 35 years I’d [be back with Black Sabbath], have a Number One record and a sold-out tour. It’s weird, the album was recorded and released in 2013, and it was Number One in 13 countries…the number 13 is driving us mad!"</p> <p>Osbourne continues, "All I can tell you is that if it’s good-bye, we’re ending it on a high note. Instead of with [<em>1978's</em>] <em>Never Say Die!</em>, which we didn’t leave each other on friendly terms. The only thing I’m sad about is Bill Ward couldn’t work things out. But I’m up for another Black Sabbath album and tour. If we can, great. If not, I’ll just carry on doing my own thing."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Photo: Travis Shinn</em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ozzy-osbourne">Ozzy Osbourne</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Black Sabbath Ozzy Osbourne Tony Iommi Interviews News Wed, 21 May 2014 15:00:09 +0000 Brad Angle 21307 at Tony Iommi Says Black Sabbath's Hyde Park Show Might Be Their Last <!--paging_filter--><p>Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has said the band's Hyde Park gig this July could be their last — ever.</p> <p>The band will headline the British Summer Time Festival in London July 4, topping a bill that also includes hard rock luminaries such as Soundgarden, Faith No More, Motörhead, Soulfly, Hell, Bo Ningen and Wolfmother.</p> <p>Speaking to <em>Metal Hammer</em> about the gig, Iommi admitted he and his bandmates don't have plans to perform after the festival and that, combined with his health issues, the show could mark the last time Black Sabbath fans get to see the band perform live.</p> <p>"It could be the last-ever Sabbath show," Iommi said. "I don't want it to be, but there's nothing really planned touring-wise after that show, so for all we know that could be it really. To be honest, I don't want to be touring to this extent too much longer, because it makes me feel so bad."</p> <p>Iommi completed treatment in March after being diagnosed with lymphoma in January 2012. </p> <p>"I'm at a stage now where I have no support, which means I have to see whether the cancer is coming back or if it's still there or what," he says. "I just don't know. It's a bit of a worry. After we finish this tour I'll go in and have a scan, so we'll see what that shows up."</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Black Sabbath Tony Iommi News Thu, 15 May 2014 17:04:51 +0000 Guitar World Staff 21259 at Golden Gods: Ace Frehley and Zakk Wylde Present Best Guitarist Award to Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance; Black Sabbath Win Album of the Year <!--paging_filter--><p>This past Wednesday night, April 23, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, Zakk Wylde and Ace Frehley presented the first-ever Dimebag Darrell Best Guitarist Award.</p> <p>The nominees included Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Zoltan Bathory &amp; Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch, Munky &amp; Head of Korn and Synyster Gates &amp; Zacky Vengeance of Avenged Sevenfold.</p> <p>Find out who wins in the video below, which also happens to include the presentation of the annual Album of the Year award. This year, the honor went to none other than Black Sabbath. On hand to accept the award was the Iron Man himself, Tony Iommi.</p> <p>Let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> 2014 Golden Gods Ace Frehley Avenged Sevenfold Synyster Gates Tony Iommi Zacky Vengeance Zakk Wylde Videos News Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:43:53 +0000 Guitar World Staff 21105 at NAMM 2014 Video: Celestion G12-35XC and A-Type Speakers <!--paging_filter--><p>As always, <em>Guitar World</em> paid a visit to the Celestion booth during this year's Winter NAMM Show.</p> <p>We learned about two brand-new items from the company, the Limited Edition G12-35XC speaker, which was created in honor of the company's 90th anniversary, and the A-Type model. </p> <p>You can find out about both models in the top video below.</p> <p>From the company:</p> <p>The 35XC is built using tried-and-tested materials and construction methods, and incorporates several new design features and techniques. Drawing on 90 years’ experience, we’ve been able to create a uniquely versatile speaker whose attributes will be familiar to those who know Pulsonic coned speakers.</p> <p>Capable of delivering open and musical cleans without sacrificing an immensely satisfying crunch or searing, overdriven lead lines, the 35XC is made to engage your musical soul. This speaker exhibits poise, tonal evenness and freedom from souring colourations, characteristics typical of speakers with Pulsonic cones, as well as adding a little more sparkle and air to your sound.</p> <p>A 90th Anniversary gift from Celestion to players who won’t compromise in their search for great tone.</p> <p>For more about the G12-35XC, visit <a href=""></a>. Stay tuned for more info about the A-Type!</p> <p>And speaking of the company's 90th anniversary, check out the birthday video created by Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi (bottom).</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Celestion NAMM 2014 NAMM 2014 Video Tony Iommi Videos Amps News Gear Tue, 04 Mar 2014 21:12:15 +0000 Guitar World Staff 20643 at Prime Cuts: Tony Iommi Recalls the Best and Worst of Black Sabbath, the Heaviest Band South of Heaven <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>Here's a Prime Cuts feature from the August 1992 issue of <em>Guitar World</em>. The original headline was "The Master of Reality: Evil guitar genius Tony Iommi, the heart and soul of Black Sabbath, recalls the best and the worst of the heaviest band south of heaven."</strong></p> <p><a href="">To see the cover of the August 1992 issue — and all the mag covers from that year — check out our 1992 covers gallery.</a></p> <p>The 1970 album <em>Black Sabbath</em> introduced the world to four English gents who would go down as the greatest, most influential heavy metal band in history. Twenty-two years later, the band’s hand of doom, Tony Iommi, continues to compose the most withering riffs this side of Hades. </p> <p><em>Guitar World</em> recently spoke with the power-chord master for a retrospective look at two decades of Sabbath albums. Join us as we shed some light on a very dark past.</p> <p><strong><em>Black Sabbath</em> (1970)</strong></p> <p>“Money was really scarce in those days, so the whole album was recorded in eight hours on an eight-track machine at Regent Sound in London. We were so pleased to have been given the chance to make a record that the whole experience seemed very luxurious. A record deal in those days was a very big thing.</p> <p>“Most of my solos on that record were done the same way I do them now—very off-the-cuff. I performed the extended solo on ‘Warning’ in only two takes. The first one I played was much better than the second one, but our so-called producer, who had never produced an album in his life, decided to put the second one on the record without consulting us.</p> <p>“For that album, I used my Gibson SG—the same one I used for the next 10 years—and either a Laney or Marshall cabinet. We didn’t even have time to work on getting sounds—we just set up mics in front of the cabinets and went off. We just played as if we were playing live.”</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-1-620.jpg" width="620" height="626" alt="sab-1-620.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong><em>Paranoid</em> (1970)</strong></p> <p>“I think the reason this record turned out so well was that we had a long time to work out all the material. We were playing seven 45-minute sets each day in a dusty old club in Switzerland, in front of anywhere from three to two dozen people. </p> <p>Rehearsing like that for six weeks really tightened us up. It also enabled us to experiment more because we really only had enough songs for one set each day—certainly not seven. It gave us a chance to make stuff up and rearrange existing songs.”</p> <p><strong><em>Master of Reality</em> (1971)</strong></p> <p>“During <em>Master of Reality</em>, we started getting more experimental and began taking too much time to record. Ultimately, I think it really confused us. Sometimes I think I’d really like to go back to the way we recorded the first two albums. I’ve always preferred just going into the studio and playing, without spending a lot of time rehearsing or getting sounds.</p> <p>“We tried recording ‘Into the Void’ in a couple of different studios because Bill [<em>Ward</em>] just couldn’t get it right. Whenever that happened, he would start believing that he wasn’t capable of playing the song. He’d say, ‘To hell with it—I’m not doing this!’ There was one track like that on every album, and ‘Into the Void’ was the most difficult one on <em>Master of Reality</em>.</p> <p>“The coughing that opens the album is actually me! Ozzy had pulled out a joint, and I nearly choked to death on the bloody thing—and they recorded it! I didn’t have any idea that it would end up on the record.”</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-2-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-2-620.jpg" /></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-3-620-correct.jpg" width="620" height="618" alt="sab-3-620-correct.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong><em>Vol. 4 </em>(1972)</strong></p> <p>“We wrote and recorded <em>Vol. 4</em> at the Record Plant in Los Angeles. LA was a real distraction for us, and that album ended up sounding a bit strange. The people who were involved with the record really didn’t have a clue. They were all learning with us, and we didn’t know what we were doing either. The experimental stage we began with <em>Master of Reality</em> continued with <em>Vol. 4</em>, and we were trying to widen our sound and break out of the bag everyone had put us into.”</p> <p><strong><em>Sabbath Bloody Sabbath </em>(1975)</strong></p> <p>“<em>Sabbath Bloody Sabbath</em> 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 LA and we moved back there for <em>Sabbath Bloody Sabbath</em>, hoping to recreate the sound of <em>Vol. 4</em>. </p> <p>Musically, we liked that drug-oriented sound. [<em>laughs</em>] 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.</p> <p>“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.”</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-4-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-4-620.jpg" /></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-5-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-5-620.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong><em>Technical Ecstasy</em> (1976)</strong></p> <p>“Black Sabbath fans generally don’t like much of <em>Technical Ecstasy</em>. 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.</p> <p>“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!”</p> <p><strong><em>Never Say Die</em> (1978)</strong></p> <p>“Right before we were supposed to record <em>Never Say Die</em>, 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. </p> <p>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.</p> <p>“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.’ [<em>laughs</em>] To this day, Ozzy thinks 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.</p> <p>“Mixing the album even caused my marriage to break up. As with <em>Technical Ecstasy</em>, 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?’ ” [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-6-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-6-620.jpg" /></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-7-620.jpg" width="620" height="618" alt="sab-7-620.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong><em>Heaven and Hell </em>(1980)</strong></p> <p>“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. </p> <p>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.”</p> <p><strong><em>Mob Rules</em> (1981)</strong></p> <p>“We were all going through a lot of problems at that time, most of it related to drugs. Even the producer, Martin Birch, was having drug problems, and it hurt the sound of that record. Once that happens to your producer, you’re really screwed.</p> <p>“<em>Mob Rules</em> was a confusing album for us. We started writing songs differently for some reason, and ended up not using a lot of really great material. That line-up [<em>Iommi, Dio, Butler, Ward</em>] was really great, and the whole thing fell apart for very silly reasons—we were all acting like children. But I think we needed to split with Ronnie and gain a little breathing space to be able to do what we’re doing with him now.”</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-8-620_0.jpg" width="620" height="614" alt="sab-8-620_0.jpg" /></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-9-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-9-620.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong> <p><em>Born Again</em> (1983)</p></strong></p> <p>“When we first put that line-up together [<em>Ian Gillan, Iommi, Butler, Ward</em>], it was only on paper—done purely by lawyers. Ian is a great singer, but he’s from a completely different background [<em>Deep Purple</em>], and it was difficult for him to come in and sing Sabbath material.</p> <p>“To be honest, I didn’t like some of the songs on that album—and the production was awful. We never had time to test the pressings after it was recorded, and something happened to it by the time it got released.”</p> <p><strong><em>Headless Cross </em>(1989)</strong></p> <p>“That was the first album I wrote with [<em>drummer</em>] Cozy Powell, even though we had known each other for almost 20 years. That album was put together very quickly, and we produced it ourselves. I like <em>Headless Cross</em> very much, but I wouldn’t compare it to <em>Dehumanizer</em>, because they’re very different.”</p> <p><strong><em>Dehumanizer</em> (1992)</strong> </p> <p>“Getting back together with Ronnie James Dio was a little rough in the beginning—there were all kinds of egos bouncing around. We had been separated for 10 years, and it took us a long time to get to know each other again. Tony Martin had been our singer for the last three albums, and I must admit, I did feel bad that we had to let him go. But the truth is, he wanted to get out. He was getting more into writing for other people instead of performing Sabbath material. He understood the situation with Ronnie, so it really wasn’t a problem.</p> <p>“Before we [<em>Iommi, Dio, Butler and drummer Vinny Appice</em>] started writing <em>Dehumanzer</em>, we talked about what we wanted. We decided to make a very heavy Black Sabbath record that had a real natural sound and a ton of doomy riffs—nothing too jolly. The material is sort of a cross between the old stuff and <em>Heaven and Hell</em>. It has a raunchy sound—something I think has been missing from Sabbath over the last few years. This is very much a classic Black Sabbath record. In fact, I didn’t expect it to come out quite this good!”</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-10-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-10-620.jpg" /></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-11-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-11-620.jpg" /></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/sab-12-620.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="sab-12-620.jpg" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Black Sabbath GW Archive Prime Cuts Tony Iommi Interviews News Features Wed, 19 Feb 2014 15:35:46 +0000 Jeff Kitts 1890 at Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi Hoping to Complete Cancer Treatment This Year <!--paging_filter--><p>Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has announced he expects to finish treatment for cancer at some point this year. </p> <p>In a New Year's message posted on <a href="">his website</a>, Iommi thanked his fans for their ongoing support and said he hopes to get the "all clear," health-wise, in 2014.</p> <p>"We've some good things lined up for the coming year, firstly the Grammys, then some dates in the U.S. and Canada, and in the summer a quick trip round Europe," Iommi wrote. "I should also be finishing my regular treatment and I’m hoping to not get so tired, all positive."</p> <p>As has been widely reported, Iommi has being undergoing treatment for lymphoma. He was diagnosed in January 2012. </p> <p>"When we were writing this album and he was going through his treatment, I thought to myself, 'He ain't gonna fucking make it. How can he?,' Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne told <a href="">NME</a> last year. "He'd come down some days and look so tired. He's a good guy, Tony. And he's a fucking great guitar player. I just keep my fingers crossed it don't return."</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Tony Iommi News Tue, 07 Jan 2014 17:09:12 +0000 Damian Fanelli 20138 at Tony Iommi Talks Dio, Van Halen, Judas Priest and More in Outtake from 2008 Guitar World Interview <!--paging_filter--><p><em>From the GW archive: This is an unpublished segment from Chris Gill's interview with Tony Iommi for the Holiday 2008 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the complete interview, pick up the <a href="">Holiday 2008 issue of GW at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: The blues were very big in England when you started playing with bands in the early and mid Sixties. What other bands were you listening to?</strong></p> <p>I liked John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. I thought they were really good. Of course Eric Clapton was a part of that. I liked the work that Clapton did later with Cream, but I really liked what he was playing with John Mayall. I listened to all kinds of blues records. I really can’t remember any names of the players because I listened to a lot of different things. From that I got into bluesy jazz, and it was the same thing. </p> <p><strong>After you had the accident that sliced off the tips of your two right hand fingers, were you tempted to switch to playing right handed?</strong></p> <p>If I knew what I know now I probably would have switched. At the time I had already been playing two or three years, and it seemed like I had been playing a long time. I thought I’d never be able to change the way I played. The reality of the situation was that I hadn’t been playing very long at all, and I probably could have spent the same amount of time learning to play right handed. I did have a go at it, but I just didn’t have the patience. It seemed impossible to me. I decided to make do with what I had, and I made some plastic fingertips for myself. I just persevered with it. </p> <p><strong>The title of the song “Black Sabbath,” and consequently the band’s name, were derived from an Italian horror film starring Boris Karloff. Unlike most other bands in England at the time, Black Sabbath seemed to be fascinated with underground culture.</strong></p> <p>In the early days Geezer and I were constantly going to see horror films at the midnight movies. We were really into that and we liked the idea of writing songs that evoked the same spirit as horror films and comics. We got involved with more controversial things over time, but we won’t go into that. </p> <p><strong>Judas Priest emerged in Birmingham around the time Black Sabbath released its first album. Were you aware of them back then?</strong></p> <p>Yes. I was aware of them. I had started up an agency to try to help bands. Ric Lee from Ten Years After and I put some money together to rent some offices and hire some booking agents. We tried to help local bands, and Judas Priest was one of the bands that came to us. I gave them some equipment and helped them get some work. At the end of the day the agency had to close down because I was in America on tour and Ric was doing tours with Ten Years After. Nobody was there apart from the people we hired. Eventually one of our booking agents took Judas Priest away to manage them. </p> <p><strong>Bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest really defined the sound of metal music, and both bands are from Birmingham. How did Birmingham influence your music?</strong></p> <p>Where we lived was crap, really. I worked in a factory and was around sheet metal all day. The area we lived in was a bit rough. There were gangs and whatnot. It’s hard to get out of that gloom. But we loved our music. That was our opening to get out. Instead of joining gangs we turned to music. </p> <p><strong>For the Never Say Die tour you made the rather bold move of bringing this hot young band, Van Halen, out as your opening act.</strong></p> <p>We’d taken out a lot of really hot bands with us before then, like Boston. We weren’t frightened of doing that. We just wanted to put on a good show. I really liked what Van Halen were doing, and they were really big fans of us as well. They were out on the road with us for eight months, and we became fairly close. </p> <p><strong>How did Ronnie James Dio join Black Sabbath?</strong></p> <p>I saw Ronnie at a party and we had a chat. I was really in a rut and I knew that I had to do something. We spoke a few more times after that, and after Ozzy left I gave him a call and asked if he’d fancy having a go with the band. We had this house in L.A. where we all lived, and we had set up a studio in the garage. Ronnie came over and we played him one of the riffs we had been working on. When he sang over it we looked at each other and went, “Bloody hell! This is it.” And it was. I had an idea what it was going to sound like because I had heard all of the stuff Ronnie had done with Rainbow, but it still was magnificent.</p> <p><strong>What did you think when you heard the first Ozzy’s <em>Blizzard of Ozz</em> album with Randy Rhoads?</strong></p> <p>It was quite good. I loved Randy’s playing. I didn’t rush out right away to buy Ozzy’s album because I was into what we were doing at the time. But I was pleased for Ozzy. It was the spark that got him going, and it was exactly what he needed.</p> <p><strong>I’ve heard rumors that Black Sabbath appeared on a magazine cover with Spinal Tap in the early Eighties. Were you aware that they were a heavy metal parody band then?</strong></p> <p>When they approached us about doing the cover I asked, “Who the hell is Spinal Tap?” I was told that they were doing a movie. Geezer and I showed up to do these photos with them and through the whole thing I was none the wiser that they weren’t a real band. When I finally saw the movie I was going, “Oh bloody hell!”</p> <p><strong>In 1997 you were trying to start a project with Rob Halford. Why did that never come to be?</strong></p> <p>Bob Marlette was doing production for Rob’s band at the time [<em>the Two project with John Lowery, aka John5</em>]. Rob was telling me how good Bob was, and we were going to do something together. When I got over there Rob’s manager decided to put the kibosh on it. He tried to make it seem like I was joining Rob’s band, but that wasn’t quite right. It just didn’t work. Rob is a lovely guy, but we just couldn’t work then because there were too many fingers in the pot. Unfortunately sometimes artists aren’t always allowed to be artists. </p> <p><strong>What led to you finally doing your first proper solo album in 2000?</strong></p> <p>I had a bunch of different singers approaching me, so it made it easier to make the album that I wanted to make. When the word got out people started approaching me. My manager and Sharon Osbourne went out and found me a bunch of people who were interested. Once we recorded a few songs the whole thing just snowballed. Singers started appearing out of the woodwork. I also wanted different drummers and bass players so I could do different things on each song. </p> <p>It was a bit of a challenge. When we went into the studio with Billy Corgan we didn’t have anything written to record. We started from scratch, and I started to record some riffs. Before we knew it we had this song with all these different changes in it. We were playing it live and recording it. It happened really quickly. That was really inspiring. The new music I’m coming up with now is coming together very quickly. </p> <p><strong>Looking back at your immense body of work, are there any particular moments that really stand out to you?</strong></p> <p>I’ve just been amazed at how my whole career has gone. These days I’m getting all these awards for the first time in 40 years. But I guess that’s what it’s all about when you’ve been around for a while. That’s what lifetime achievement awards are for.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/1308%20Iommi.jpg" width="620" height="814" alt="1308 Iommi.jpg" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Articles Black Sabbath GW Archive Holiday 2008 Tony Iommi Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 14 Nov 2013 15:29:38 +0000 Chris Gill 1573 at Tony Iommi and Eddie Van Halen Discuss Their Careers, Friendship and the Past Three Decades of Our Favorite Instrument <!--paging_filter--><p><em>FROM THE GW ARCHIVE: Originally published in </em>Guitar World<em>, 30th Anniversary 2010 issue.</em></p> <p><strong>One forged the template for heavy metal. The other advanced it with virtuoso shredding. Together, they shaped the guitar universe as we know it today. Tony Iommi and Eddie Van Halen mark <em>Guitar World</em>’s 30th anniversary with a colossal conversation about their careers, friendship and the past three decades of our favorite instrument.</strong></p> <p>Rock guitar over the past 30 years would not be the same without Tony Iommi and Eddie Van Halen. </p> <p>From details like playing techniques and equipment designs to the wide variety of hard rock and metal musical styles that sprouted from the seeds sown by Black Sabbath and Van Halen, their influence remains omnipresent to this day. </p> <p>While the music industry has changed significantly since <em>Guitar World</em> magazine made its debut in 1980, Iommi and Van Halen have never wavered in popularity, even as trends and tastes continue to shift and diversify.</p> <p>“We’ve started trends, but that was not what we had in mind,” says Eddie Van Halen, sitting across from Iommi in a Hollywood photo studio where we’ve met to discuss the past 30 years of guitar. “When Van Halen started out, there was no path to fame. We just played what we liked. Even today it always comes down to the simplicity of rock and roll.”</p> <p>“A lot of music has become a formula,” adds Iommi, who is, as always, impeccably dressed in black from head to toe. “When we started out there was no formula. You play music because you love it and you want to create something.” </p> <p>What Iommi and Van Halen created stretches well beyond their own personal contributions and activities. With Black Sabbath, Iommi helped create the template for heavy metal, from its dark, violent sound to its gothic, occult-inspired imagery. Songs like “Symptom of the Universe,” with its dissonant intervals, driving eighth-note low E riffing and frantic, over-the-top solo, became the blueprint for almost every thrash song that has emerged since Metallica and Slayer first co-opted those elements for themselves. </p> <p>Iommi’s habits of tuning down three half steps to C# (which he started doing when Sabbath recorded<em> Master of Reality</em> in 1971) and using generous amounts of gain to drive his amp into heavy distortion have become essential staples of metal music. Even the most extreme subgenres of death and black metal can all trace their roots back to Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi.</p> <p>Van Halen’s influence on rock guitar is also universal. In addition to introducing various equipment innovations that he designed, inspired or helped perfect—like the custom, hot-rodded “super Strat” guitar, modern high-gain amplifier and Floyd Rose tremolo—he also helped bring highly skilled, technical guitar playing into the public spotlight. </p> <p>When Ozzy Osbourne enlisted Randy Rhoads, or when Billy Idol teamed up with Steve Stevens, and even when David Lee Roth hired Steve Vai to join his post–Van Halen solo band, these singers realized that having a hot-shot, Van Halen–style guitarist in their bands was a huge competitive advantage. </p> <p>Eddie’s innovative use of tapping, harmonics and volume swells has been discussed at length, but more importantly he paved the way for players like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani to explore sounds that existed well beyond the fretboard and conventional playing techniques. In one fell swoop, Van Halen made it cool to incorporate flashy guitar in pop music (think Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” or even Ed’s own playing on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) while he also inspired the shred guitar phenomenon, where experimental sounds and exotic scales became regular, accepted elements of the rock guitarist’s vernacular.</p> <p>Driving around Hollywood today and comparing it with the Hollywood of 30 years ago, it’s easy to be pessimistic about the sorry state of today’s music industry. Glamorous office buildings that once housed record label offices now belong to film industry companies or the Church of Scientology or lie vacant. The Tower Records store that once graced Sunset Boulevard is long gone (there’s now a discount clothing store on that lot), and Hollywood billboards no longer tout new album releases. In fact, the only musician-oriented billboards on the Strip are ads for the L.A. Dodgers baseball team that feature members of Poison and Mötley Crüe.</p> <hr /> <p>For that matter, the only signs that the music industry ever existed in Hollywood are Guitar Center’s Rock Walk and the handful of clubs that are still holding out, like the Whisky a Go Go, Roxy Theater and Key Club, which these days are more likely to feature sound-alike tribute bands than up-and-coming talent.</p> <p>While the challenges for guitar players who want to enjoy a long, prosperous career in the music industry may be more daunting than ever, Iommi and Van Halen still inspire hope the same way they did 30 years ago. Iommi tours regularly, and this year he released the acclaimed Heaven and Hell album <em>The Devil You Know</em>. Van Halen completed one of the decade’s biggest tours in 2008, and his EVH brand guitars and amplifiers provide players with some of the finest tools of the trade available today. If Iommi and Van Halen continue to infl uence players over the next decade the same way they have over the past 30 years, the future for the guitar and guitar players looks very bright indeed.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: Both of you have had significant influence on guitarists over the past 30 years. Pretty much every metal band that has formed since the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the Eighties can trace its roots back to Black Sabbath.</strong></p> <p><strong>TONY IOMMI </strong>It’s weird when all of these players from successful bands come up to you and go, “Without you I wouldn’t have done what I do.” I’m sure Ed feels the same way about all the Joe Satrianis and Steve Vais who were influenced by him.</p> <p><strong>In addition to the shred phenomenon, it seems like every rock band in the Eighties that came to Hollywood was trying to follow in Van Halen’s footsteps.</strong></p> <p><strong>EDDIE VAN HALEN</strong> All those hair bands that played the Hollywood clubs missed the most important part. They didn’t play weddings, bar mitzvahs, polkas and all that other shit way before the club days. My brother Alex and I used to do that. We would play at the La Mirada Country Club. My dad would play at the Continental Club every Sunday night, and we would sit in with him. He’d play at a place called the Alpine Haus off of San Fernando Road in the Valley, and we’d wear the lederhosen. Those polka songs are so weird. They’re all I-IV-V, but they’re like some odd country song. Alex and I actually played on the boat while we were coming to America. [<em>Van Halen’s family emigrated from the Netherlands.</em>] We played piano, and we were like the kid freak show on the boat. Music saved our family. My father, mother, brother and I came here with only 50 dollars and a piano. We lived in one room and played gigs on weekends.</p> <p><strong>Even in the early days of Black Sabbath, the band played some unglamorous gigs at working men’s clubs or in remote towns in northern Scotland.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> We used to play working men’s clubs and get thrown out quite often. They used to tell us to turn it down or we wouldn’t get paid. Well, since they weren’t paying us to begin with we’d turn it up even louder!</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> When we used to play clubs we learned just enough Top 40 songs to get hired. At the gig you had to play five 45-minute sets, but most pop songs are three or four minutes long, so that’s a lot of tunes to learn! We figured we could play our own stuff and no one would care as long as the beat was there. One day we were playing at this club in Covina called Posh. We ran out of Top 40 tunes so we started playing our own music. The owner of the club walks up to us while we were playing a song and goes, “Stop! I hired you to play Top 40. What is this shit?” He told us to get the fuck out of there, and he wouldn’t let us take our equipment. We had to come back the next week to pick up our equipment. It was always that way. It was either “the guitarist is too loud” or “plays too psychedelic.” They always complained about me.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> We went through the same thing. In the early days we couldn’t get gigs in England, so we went to Europe. We were playing at this place in Zurich, Switzerland, and we had to play five 45-minute sets every day for three weeks, but on the weekend we played seven 45-minute sets. We didn’t have enough songs, so we’d go, “Drum solo!” Then the next set we’d do a guitar solo and then a bass solo, and that’s how we’d get through the night. They caught on to us, and during Bill Ward’s next drum solo someone walked up to us and went in broken English, “Shut the fucking hell up!” It was the owner’s daughter.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> That’s how jamming started.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> That’s how we came up with “War Pigs.” We just jammed and made stuff up. But it was good learning ground. You played a lot because you had to. And you had to learn how to make your own sound. You couldn’t just buy a box or pedal that does it, like kids can do today.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> It’s funny but no matter how hard I tried to sound like the records—and I really tried—I always ended up sounding like me. We used to play “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers, but everyone thought it was a Black Sabbath song because I was playing it through a Marshall. It was Black Sabbath funk! We would play “Get Down Tonight” by KC and the Sunshine Band—all that stuff. The stuff that was closest to my heart was Black Sabbath. But it was a blessing. If you play and play and play, after a while you discover the essence of yourself.</p> <p><strong>You both started out as aspiring drummers.</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> [<em>to Iommi</em>] You did too?</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>That’s what I wanted to become originally. My parents wouldn’t let me get a set of drums because they were too loud.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> And then you got an electric guitar and became even louder.</p> <p><strong>You both have really well-developed rhythm styles. Do you think your interest in drums had anything to do with that?</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> I think it’s just inherently built in. When I was growing up and listening to bands like the Dave Clark Five, the groove was what initially got me going. I really like that funky, heavy groove. Obviously you have to have rhythm. If you have rhythm, then you can play anything you need. If you have rhythm and you love music, then play and play and play until you get to where you want to get. If you can pay the rent, great. If you can’t, then you’d better be having fun. Playing guitar is the only thing I ever knew how to do.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> I first played accordion. That was my first actual instrument. My father played accordion, and so did many of my relatives. Nobody played guitar back then. People in my family either played drums or accordion, and I went from accordion to guitar.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> I had to learn to play piano because that was the respectable instrument to play.</p> <p><strong>You both have mentioned Clapton as an early influence.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> Probably because of the whole blues thing. I really liked his playing with John Mayall, which influenced a lot of players back then.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> With me it was all about the live Cream stuff. I don’t mean to downplay anything Clapton did, but for me it was also about Cream’s rhythm section. Listen to “I’m So Glad” on <em>Goodbye</em> and adjust the balance to the right—Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were playing jazz through Marshalls. To me that is where Clapton’s style came from. Clapton was the only guy doing that kind of extended soloing back then.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> That’s right. Later on it was Hendrix and everybody else, but Clapton in those days appealed to a lot of people from his work with John Mayall through Cream.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Ed, I understand that in the very early days of Van Halen you originally wanted to call the band Rat Salad.</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> Yeah, that’s right. We played just about every Black Sabbath song. I used to sing lead on every Black Sabbath song we did—things like “Into the Void,” “Paranoid,” and “Lord of This World.” When we toured with Black Sabbath in 1978, they scared the shit out of us. I’ll tell you a funny story that I’ll never forget. </p> <p>I walked up to Tony and began to ask him, “Second song on side two of <em>Master of Reality</em>…” Tony looked at me and went, “What the fuck, mate?” By that time Black Sabbath had several records out, but we had only one album out so I knew where every track on our first record was. A few years later somebody asked me a question in the same way, and I was going, Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. </p> <p>The first thing that popped in my head was that incident with Tony! At first I thought it was odd that he couldn’t remember what was on his records, and then it happened to me.</p> <p><strong>Black Sabbath and Van Halen toured together for eight months in 1978. What effect did you have on each other?</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> To me, Tony is the master of riffs. That’s what I loved. I’m not knocking Ozzy or his singing, but listen to “Into the Void.” That riff is some badass shit. It was beyond surf music and jazz. It was beyond anything else I had ever heard. It was so fuckin’ heavy. I put it right up there with [<em>sings the four-note intro to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony</em>]. Listen to the main riff, where he chugs on the low E string. It hits you like a brick wall.</p> <p><strong>Tony, what did you think of Van Halen?</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> From the very first minute I heard them I knew straight away that they were something special. The way that Ed plays is very different. He came up with a style that’s been imitated a million times. And they had great songs. Often after the shows we would get together in my room and chat about guitars. We’d ramble on for about 10 hours before we’d go to bed.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN </strong>Or not. [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>That’s right! [<em>laughs</em>] I really enjoyed that tour. Brian May is the only other guitar player I’ve ever associated with, and we’ve never been on tour together.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> I was just telling Matt [<em>Bruck</em>] this morning that out of all the people I’ve ever met—all the celebrities and rock and roll stars—I fuckin’ love this guy. He’s the sweetest, most humble, down to earth, normal guy. He has no attitude, and look at what this guy has done! I could name a handful of people who I still respect but no longer look up to. After I met them I was like, Fuck you! You’re no better than I am as a person. So many people are a bunch of pompous fuckin’ pricks. What makes them think their shit doesn’t stink? Tony is still like a brother even after all these years.</p> <p><strong><em>Heaven and Hell</em> was the first record you released after touring with Van Halen and after Ozzy left Black Sabbath. Your playing on that record progressed significantly from what you did on <em>Never Say Die!</em> What inspired that shift?</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>The whole thing was different because we had a different singer and we developed a different sound. It was a different approach, really.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> It’s just the chemistry.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>Yeah. Ronnie [<em>James Dio, singer</em>] was someone we could sit down and work with. He brought new life to the band. When we did <em>Never Say Die!</em>, which we probably shouldn’t have called the album since we broke up after it came out, it was really tough. Ozzy left after we wrote the first song, and then about three days before we were due to record the album he wanted to come back.</p> <p>Working with a different singer influenced me to approach my playing in a different way. Ozzy didn’t participate that much toward the end and wasn’t coming up with any ideas, but when Ronnie came along he provided a lot of input.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> It’s similar to when [<em>Sammy</em>] Hagar joined the band. It’s just the element that a different person brings to the band. It’s just like my son being the band’s bassist now. </p> <p>He approaches everything differently, and the rhythm section is now like this huge wall behind me. I’d want to play with him regardless of whether he was my son or not. It’s not to knock anyone. It’s just when you change elements of a band, the chemistry also changes. One little change can shift the whole dynamic. It’s not that it’s getting any better or worse. A lot of people ask me which Van Halen singer was better. </p> <p>You can’t compare them. It’s like asking which guitarist is better. Nobody is better than anybody. Every player is their own person.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>I get asked that question about singers all the time, and I can’t really answer it either. I really have worked with some amazing musicians and singers.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> Music is not the Olympics. It’s not a sport; it’s a form of expression. There is no such thing as bad music. There may be music that you personally don’t like, but if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it and shut the fuck up! Don’t listen to it and complain about it. There’s lots of music that I don’t care for, but you can’t say it’s bad. </p> <p>That’s subjective. That would happen if we put out something new now also. When we released <em>Van Halen II</em>, the critics and some fans went, “Hey! It’s different than the first one.” Well, yeah! It’s a different record. If it sounded like the first one then fans and critics would complain that it sounded the same. What the fuck?</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>You can’t ever win no matter what you do.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> You just do what you do. If anyone has a better way, show me how to please everyone all the time! For some reason people love to complain about everything. The internet has made it easy for people to do that. Shut the fuck up and get a life, or show me how good you can do it.</p> <p>People think they know what I should do. A lot of fans are complaining that Van Halen should put out a new record now. Everybody is going, “Eddie should do this. Eddie should do that.” I’ve got all kinds of music that I could put out if I wanted to, but they don’t take into consideration the other members of the band. Maybe the singer doesn’t want to do that. I play classical piano. I play a little bit of cello. I write all kinds of different music that certain singers or certain musicians don’t want anything to do with. So what do I do? When people see Van Halen or Black Sabbath, it conjures up a certain image in their minds. If there’s just one albino pubic hair outside of that image, they won’t accept it. And if we do put something out, the first thing people are going to say is that it isn’t as good as the classics. Okay. Put it in your closet for 20 years and then it will be classic.</p> <p>People forget that we put three new songs—“It’s About Time,” “Learning to See” and “Up for Breakfast”—on <em>Best of Both Worlds</em> in 2004. The reviews didn’t even mention those songs. When we played the new songs live, people would just stand there. Nobody said anything about them. Why go to all the trouble, spend all of that time in the studio and spend tons of your own money—there aren’t even any record labels anymore to put our shit out—to record a new album when people are only going to complain about it or ignore it or somebody is going to download it from the internet for free? We might not record something new. There’s an element of satisfaction and joy to creating something new, but not when it comes solely at your own expense and when people are just going to shoot it down, no matter what you do.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> Early on with Sabbath I recorded a couple of instrumentals on <em>Master of Reality</em>. For <em>Sabotage</em> I wrote this song called “Supertzar” and I wanted to have a choir on it. I got a choir in the studio, and even my own band members were wondering what I was doing. People from the record company came to visit, and when they saw the choir and this harp player they thought they were in the wrong studio. At the time it wasn’t the normal thing to put this heavy guitar with choir and harp on an album, although it did finally make it there. I was just experimenting and trying something new. I feel that as long as you write it, it’s you.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>It’s weird how fans want bands to keep putting out new albums but when they play live fans only want to hear the old songs.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> Even that doesn’t stop the criticism and complaints. Whenever we do a show people are always saying that we didn’t play enough songs. Nobody understands that you only have a limited time. There are curfews and union rules that you have to obey.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> Or you’ve got a guy with a decibel meter telling you how loud you can play. </p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> And then people complain that the band wasn’t loud enough. What can you do? You can try to fight these things but you can’t refuse to go on. I wish that people had a better understanding of what is going on.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> People only see the end result. When you walk onstage, they don’t take into consideration the years of practice, the attitudes and egos of other people that you have to deal with, the songwriting, the recording, the record producer, the crew, designing the stage. All they see is the show.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> And then they complain that you didn’t play a certain song.</p> <p><strong>It’s interesting how you both made your initial impact and found success by coming up with something that was very original. Then, after thousands of imitators copied you, you had moved onto something else, but fans didn’t want you to change. It seems like the more successful you become, the harder it is to do what made you successful.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> That’s why I just do what I like.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> I’m just glad to be able to play. I recently had hand surgery and arthritis treatment. I found out that Tony was having the same problems I was, so I turned him on to my doctor. It’s funny how there are so many parallels between Tony and me.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> I was already booked for surgery in London with this specialist. Then Eddie told me about this guy in Dusseldorf, Germany, who he went to for the same problem, so now I’m going to see him instead.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN </strong>My hand hurt so much I couldn’t even play. On the last half of the last tour, I was in pain. Tony is in pain now, and people are giving him shit about not wanting to tour. This is what we do for a living. It’s not only our livelihood and our income, it’s the only thing I know how to do. You don’t know how I felt not being able to stretch my hand to play because of that pain. And then I had to go under the knife! I was scared shitless that it wasn’t going to work.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> I know that as soon as I go in, all of these things are going to come out on the internet and in the press.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> It’s nice to have some avenue to explain this to people.</p> <p><strong>Why wouldn’t you want to get a problem fixed? You want to be able to play. Everyone should understand that. Les Paul suffered and struggled with arthritis for years. It’s too bad he didn’t find out about your doctor.</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> I knew Les very well. I’m glad that my son and I got to hang out with Les when we were on tour in New Jersey. He lived a long life, and he always did what he wanted to do.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Like Les Paul, you both like to modify your guitars. Tony, you changed pickups on your guitars very early on, when it wasn’t common practice to do that. The only guitarists I can think of who did that before you were Les Paul and Eddie Cochran.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> It’s weird how we’ve both done a lot of the same things. I bought a guitar company because I couldn’t get anybody to make the guitar that I wanted. Back in those days Gibson didn’t want to know me, so I started a company and had a guy build me guitars with 24 frets and everything else that I wanted. Guitar companies told me that it couldn’t be done.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> Personal need is where it all comes from.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> You’ve got to do it for yourself. </p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> And then people want one. You try to give people what they want, but if the company that makes it is substandard, the people blame you. It ain’t my fault the thing broke off! Mine broke too! Don’t blame me because my name is on it. I just invented it for myself. Do you think people blame Henry Ford for a bad Mustang?</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> Companies always cut corners to try to keep costs down. It’s expensive to make things right.</p> <p><strong>I was just looking at your guitars and I noticed that Tony uses the same type of fluted knobs as Eddie has on his guitar, only larger.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>It’s so ironic.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> And the back of his guitar’s neck is stripped, just like mine. I never liked having any kind of paint or lacquer on the neck. Tony took all of his off—the same thing!</p> <p><strong>You both also like to tune the guitar lower than standard pitch.</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> I just use whatever tuning the guitar seems to be in when I pick it up. On tour we tune down for the singer, and us, so we’ll be able to sing background vocals five nights a week without blowing our pipes out. And some songs just don’t sound right in standard tuning. It would be like Tony taking “Into the Void” and tuning it up. And some stuff doesn’t sound right tuned down. But it’s out of necessity. For a while I had my E string tuned down to Db, so when I wanted to use a “drop D” tuning on songs like “Unchained” my low E string was tuned all the way down to B.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>In the early days when we did <em>Master of Reality</em>, I tuned down because playing at standard pitch used to hurt.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> It amazes me that you do that. Tony still makes his fingertips himself [<em>at 17, Iommi lost the tips of his right hand middle and ring fingers in a metal shop accident</em>]. I just saw them. It’s amazing. It just goes to show what the true essence of a real player is. He wants to play, and he did whatever the fuck he had to in order to do that.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> No one has ever come up with a better idea than mine. Again, people don’t realize all that I have to go through just to get on that stage every night. I have to change the leather because it wears out, and I have to use light strings, which take a while to break in.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> I have a really hard time holding onto picks. I’ve even tried gluing sandpaper to them, but sometimes that doesn’t even work. It’s all about these tools that we need to do our jobs. Tony needs his thimbles, and I need Krazy Glue and sandpaper so I can hold onto a pick.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>What were some of the most significant events for you over the past 30 years.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>The band broke up and got back together again.</p> <p><strong>Both of your bands did!</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> Some things have changed, but with me it’s always been a family thing. It still is. My son joined the band. Contrary to people’s beliefs, I didn’t get rid of anyone to get him in the band. We needed a bass player, and when I asked if he wanted to play bass, he said sure. It’s always been my brother and me and whoever else.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>People have asked me over the years, “Why did you get rid of so and so?” They don’t understand that sometimes people don’t want to stay, or they don’t want to work hard and you have to replace them. You may not be happy about it, but it’s like a factory: just because a worker leaves, you don’t close the whole factory down.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> You don’t stop making music just because one of the guys doesn’t want to play with you any more.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>There are so many different aspects to it. Sometimes they don’t want to carry on and want to do their own thing so you replace them.</p> <p><strong>And sometimes you don’t know when hell is going to freeze over and you’ll work with someone again.</strong></p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> Who ever thought we’d be back again with Roth? He went off and did his own thing. He just got tired of what we were doing. We did our thing, and now we’re back together.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> Black Sabbath got back together with Ozzy. Even when Heaven and Hell got together with Ronnie James Dio a few years ago, we didn’t think we were going to record a new album, but things worked out so well that we did it.</p> <p><strong>You’ve both worked with singers who developed these larger-than-life personalities.</strong></p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>Yeah, but we became the arseholes.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN </strong>The bottom line for me is I’m just happy to be here with my friend Tony. I’ve had a hip replacement, I’ve beaten cancer, I had my hand operation, and I stopped drinking. Something inside of me just went, “I’m done.” People always ask me if I’m in a program. AA didn’t do anything for me. Rehab didn’t work. Nothing worked. </p> <p>It’s a strange thing. If you don’t want to quit, you won’t. I can’t tell you what happened. It just did. I don’t need to drink. I’m not jonesing for one. I don’t even think about it any more. It’s like God gave me one big bottle and I drank it all, so now it’s gone. I’m done. I’m just happy to be alive and to still be able to play. I’d say for both of us that not a hell of a lot keeps us down.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>We’ve done an awful lot.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN </strong>We’ve made a lot of mistakes.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI </strong>And you learn from them.</p> <p><strong>VAN HALEN</strong> We’ve come up with a lot of cool stuff, and we’re far from done. We’re certainly not the assholes that people think we are.</p> <p><strong>IOMMI</strong> We just try to be ourselves. That’s why we’ve been friends for so long.</p> <p><em>Photo: Clay Patrick McBride</em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/eddie-van-halen">Eddie Van Halen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/van-halen">Van Halen</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Anniversary 2010 Articles Black Sabbath Eddie Van Halen GW Archive Tony Iommi Van Halen Interviews News Features Magazine Tue, 10 Sep 2013 17:05:07 +0000 Chris Gill 2971 at Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath Opens Up About His Battle with Cancer and the Struggle to Make '13' <!--paging_filter--><p>2011 was well on the way to being one of the best years of Tony Iommi’s life. The guitarist was on a successful book tour to promote <em>Iron Man</em>, his revealing autobiography in which he talks about his life and his career with Black Sabbath. </p> <p>At the same time, he was reuniting with the original Black Sabbath members—vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward—to write and record a new full-length album, the quartet’s first since 1978’s <em>Never Say Die!</em> </p> <p>But celebration gave way to concern when Iommi discovered a lump in his groin. Doctors initially misdiagnosed the problem as nothing more than an infection, but when Iommi’s condition worsened, his doctor biopsied the mass. At a follow-up appointment, he told Iommi the result: We found lymphoma.</p> <p>“Once I heard my doctor say that, my whole world changed,” Iommi says. “I thought, Bloody cancerous lymphoma? Well that’s it. I’ve had it.” </p> <p>This news came as such a shock that even today, as <em>Guitar World</em> sits across from a healthy-looking Iommi in a cottage in rural West Midlands, England, the guitarist’s affable disposition darkens when he recalls that grim period. </p> <p>“Once they diagnosed it, I had to start the treatment right away,” he says. “And it knocked me about. I’d go through stages thinking, Can I do this? And then: Of course I can do this. I don’t want to die. I want to carry on and do what I’m supposed to do.”</p> <p>Iommi’s treatment included an aggressive course of chemotherapy and radiation that attacked the cancer but seriously taxed his immune system. He began to feel sicker, lose weight and weaken, and had to focus what little energy he had into fighting his illness. Plans for the Sabbath record were put on hold. But as the guitarist’s body began responding to treatment, Iommi’s creative spark was rekindled. Much to everyone’s surprise, he turned his attention back to writing the songs that would eventually make up Black Sabbath’s new disc, <em>13.</em></p> <p>“They thought I would pack up,” Iommi says. “But I asked the doctor, ‘Is it okay if I work?’ And he said, ‘Yes, you’ve just got to be careful.’ So I’d go in the studio and play for a bit. Then I’d get tired and I’d have to go and sit down. The guys would tell me not to push it.”</p> <p>Iommi was determined to get the album made. And as Osbourne and Butler tell us when we catch up with them in a Los Angeles recording studio, where they’re putting the final touches on the album, he rose to the occasion. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>“We all rallied around him,” Osbourne says. “But it’s not like we’d be saying, ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ We just got on with it. Sure, he looked tired, but he was a soldier and marched on. He still had more riffs coming out of him than anyone. None of us would go, ‘Oh, he’s fucking ill again.’ We’re bros. We grew up together. It’s like a family member getting sick.”</p> <p>“It brought up how we’re all just mortal beings, and we aren’t gonna be here forever,” Butler adds. “Tony and I were on the Heaven &amp; Hell tour with Ronnie James Dio, and six months later Ronnie was dead [from stomach cancer, in 2010]. We didn’t have any inkling that was gonna happen. When Tony got the cancer, obviously that was in his mind. We didn’t know how he’d respond to the treatment. So it was like, Let’s get the album done at all costs, as long as Tony’s up to it. So we’d write for three weeks, and then he’d go for his treatment and we’d all have three weeks off. But it didn’t affect his playing at all. In fact I think it really encouraged him and kept his mind off the cancer, which is the best thing you can possibly do if you have that.”</p> <p>As Iommi got stronger, his future, as well as Black Sabbath’s, started looking brighter. The band continued writing and rehearsing, and making progress on the new album. On November 11, 2011, Sabbath held a press conference at Los Angeles’ Whisky a Go-Go to officially announce that they had reformed and would record an album of new material. But in early 2012, Bill Ward surprised everyone when he announced that he would not move forward with recording, saying he felt “ostracized” by the band and calling the contract he was offered “unsignable.”</p> <p>“I was shocked,” Iommi says. “We were hearing stuff from lawyers, like, ‘I’m not happy with this. I’m not happy with that.’ We waited a long time for Bill and we wanted to sort it out. But at the end of the day, especially after I was diagnosed, I thought, Fucking hell, that’s it. We’ve got to get a move on. I might pop off next year! So I emailed him and said, ‘Bill, we can’t wait any longer. We’ve got to get on with it.’ And that was it.”</p> <p>The band switched gears and began auditioning drummers but didn’t find the right fit until producer Rick Rubin offered the seemingly left-field suggestion of Brad Wilk, from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. “We had our doubts, because they play a different, funky sort of music,” Iommi says. “But after a few days of rehearsal, we knew Rick was right. Brad was a really good player, and he was getting it. We liked his style and the way he tried different things instead of being regimented. It was sort of jazzy and loose, like Bill.”</p> <p>With Wilk in place, Black Sabbath set up camp at Rubin’s Shangri-La studios in Malibu to record the album. Rubin had the band cut the basic tracks live in the studio together to help capture the vibe of the early Sabbath records. These sessions were also the first time Osbourne had tracked a studio record with Sabbath since the contentious, drug-addled experience of recording 1978’s lackluster <em>Never Say Die</em>! Not surprisingly, the singer felt a twinge of performance anxiety.</p> <p>“The pressure on us was terrific,” Osbourne says. “I didn’t want to sound hokey, trying to cop <em>Paranoid</em> or <em>Master of Reality</em>. But at the end of the day, you just have to go with your heart and ‘let go and let god,’ as they say. I’ll know if I’m cutting corners and if I can do a better vocal take or melody.”</p> <hr /> <p>“I’ve <em>never</em> seen Ozzy the way he’s been this time,” Iommi says. “He showed up for everything and was really enthusiastic. We’d be running through a track for an hour and a half trying to catch the right one. And Ozzy is sitting in the booth, sweating and going, ‘I can’t breathe in here!’ ” He laughs. “We’d go out and listen to the track and look back to see Ozzy still sitting in the booth. He hadn’t realized we’d gone!” </p> <p>Butler, along with deploying tons of his massive signature low-end lines, shared lyric-writing duties with Ozzy. The two cover a lot of heavy topics on <em>13</em>, such as methamphetamine addiction (“Methademic”), clone consciousness (“End of the Beginning”), Nietzschean nihilism (“God Is Dead?”) and pedophile priests. “ ‘Dear Father’ is about this guy who goes to confession, and it’s the priest that molested him,” Butler says. “He confesses that he’s about to murder, and he gets his act of contrition. And once he’s got it, he kills the priest.”</p> <p>“You don’t wanna take a girl on a date to listen to this new Sabbath record,” Osbourne interjects with a laugh. “You should probably stick with something like Adele.”</p> <p>When the dust settled at Shangri-La, the band emerged with the eight-song, 50-plus-minute behemoth <em>13</em>. (The two-CD deluxe version includes three bonus tracks.) The epic record, which is scheduled to drop in June, possesses both the raw, aggressive abandon of early Sabbath and the gravitas and confidence befitting its seasoned members. </p> <p>While Iommi still has to undergo periodic treatment sessions to keep his lymphoma at bay, for the moment the guitarist is feeling optimistic about the future and is especially looking forward to 13’s release and the upcoming batch of Black Sabbath worldwide tour dates.</p> <p>“I don’t think we have to go out and prove anything,” he says. “It doesn’t have anything to do with that. We’ve already accomplished a lot by doing this album, and working with the guys was great. Everybody always said, ‘Do you think you’ll ever do another Sabbath album?’ But no one knew if it’d ever happen. Finally, I can go, ‘Yes, we’ve done one now!’ ”</p> <p>In the following exclusive interview, Tony Iommi opens up about how he survived the biggest fight of his life while tracking the most highly anticipated heavy metal album of the year.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: The original Black Sabbath lineup first reunited in 1997 for Ozzfest and then in 2001 announced that work had started on a new record. Why did those sessions fizzle out?</strong></p> <p>Well, we started writing, but to be honest we didn’t really have anything. We had done about six or seven songs, and we played them for Rick Rubin. I think he liked three or four of them. And then it just fell to pieces. Ozzy had <em>The Osbournes</em> [reality show] coming up, and his head was somewhere else. But it wasn’t just him; it was everybody. It just wasn’t gelling at that time. So we left it, and Geezer and I carried on with Ronnie.</p> <p><strong>Did working on the Heaven &amp; Hell record [2009’s <em>The Devil You Know</em>] help you get back into the Sabbath mindset?</strong></p> <p>Possibly, yeah. Ronnie was really good to work with in that he liked the strange chords, the semitones and all that evil sort of stuff I like. It was great to work together as a team. We had a great vibe going. It was almost sad at the end of the tour, like, “Well, what are we going to do now?” I mentioned to Ronnie about doing another album, and he said, “Yeah! Let’s do it!” But of course, we never did.</p> <p><strong>It’s hard to imagine that you were sharing a stage and making plans with Ronnie and then, just a short time later, attending his funeral.</strong></p> <p>It was a terrible period. We had all these plans, and then poor Ronnie went through [his battle with cancer]. I was in L.A. for Ronnie’s funeral, and I had a phone call from Sharon saying how sorry she and Ozzy were about Ronnie’s death, and would I talk to Ozzy? I said yeah, and I spoke to him. He asked if we could meet up when he got back to England and talk about some stuff. And that’s basically what happened. We got together and talked about how much we missed playing and how nice it would be to do an album together.</p> <p><strong>After you reconnected with Ozzy, what came next? What were those first jam sessions like?</strong></p> <p>The first thing was the four of us—Bill, Ozzy, Geezer and myself—went to the Sunset Marquis in L.A. They’ve got a studio under there, and we wanted to go somewhere quiet where it wouldn’t be, “Oh, we saw Sabbath all together!” You can drive underneath the Sunset without anybody seeing you. So we went in, and I brought my CDs filled with song demos. I played them to everybody, and everyone liked them. So we started rehearsing at Ozzy’s home studio outside of L.A., because it was also quiet and nobody would know. Then we moved to England to rehearse for a while, just to get a different environment.</p> <p><strong>Because of all the time that passed since you last wrote an album with Ozzy, were you ever nervous that you might not click?</strong></p> <p>Well, we all knew we could still play. But the difference was the commitment that we all had. It wasn’t, “All right, I guess we’ll do this now.” We all really wanted to do it, including Ozzy, which was great. He’s been at all the rehearsals and was there for all of the recording. He was never there in the past, except in the very early days. He got to a point where he’d be there five minutes and go, “Anybody want a cup of tea?” And he’d disappear for two hours. [laughs] We’d be playing and be like, “What happened to our tea? What happened to Ozzy?” He’d be in the other room, snoring on the sofa. [laughs] But now it’s been so different. He’s been so into it all.</p> <p><strong>This was also around the time that you received the news of your cancer, right? </strong></p> <p>The diagnosis came when I was doing my book tour [in 2011] before we started rehearsal. On the book tour, I saw a doctor because this lump appeared in my groin. We thought it was just a swollen gland, so he gave me antibiotics. After the book tour, I was going to L.A. to start rehearsals. He said if it wasn’t gone in two weeks when I got there, I should see another doctor. So I did, because it was still there. He gave me more antibiotics, because I had developed an infection from this other problem I had with my prostate. It was too big and had to be cut down. So I thought the other lump was part of that. But it never went away.</p> <p>So we were rehearsing and writing, and I kept feeling this pain down in my groin. And Ozzy kept saying, “You don’t look really well.” And I’d say, “Well, I don’t feel too good.” He also told me to go get it checked out. I was going back to England to have the prostate operation, so I decided just to wait until then. They said they’d take out that other lump while they were in there. I thought nothing of it at all, but they found out it was cancer. </p> <hr /> <p><strong>I’m sure nothing was the same after those words came across the doctor’s desk.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, my whole life changed. And they’re so casual about! They say, “The good news is that your prostate is really good. But the lump, we found lymphoma in it.” Lymphoma, what’s that? Well, I knew what it was, but I wanted to hear them say it: cancer. Once I heard that, it was awful. I thought, God, of all the times. We’re right in the middle of working on this record. </p> <p><strong>Did you immediately stop work on the album? </strong></p> <p>All my mind was on treatment and trying to get rid of it. That’s all I could really think about for awhile. I couldn’t think about the music. I had to get this sorted out, so everything had to wait. I was in terrible pain from the prostate operation as well. And then I started the chemo. I didn’t feel well and started losing weight. Then I had radiotherapy [radiation] every day. But I did say to the guys while I was in treatment, “If you come to England, then we can carry on.” I couldn’t move away from the treatment, and I was weak and tired. But I wanted to carry on. </p> <p><strong>What propels you to continue working on an album when you’re literally fighting for your life? </strong></p> <p>I was determined that it wasn’t going to stop me. I’ve always been that way. I can’t give in to things. Having my wife, Maria [Sjöholm, former Drain STH vocalist]—who was so great, put up with so much and never complained—and friends around me was actually the best thing for me. It helped get my mind off of it. I would be in the hospital a couple of days before they’d come. And then I’d walk in the studio and we’d start talking and we’d play for a bit. Then I’d get tired and I’d have to go and sit down. They were all right behind me, so it was good. </p> <p>Of course, when I told Ozzy I have lymphoma, he said, “Didn’t so and so die of that?” [laughs] Thanks! I had to laugh. Typical him. But it was great he was there. You’ve got to be positive about it, and I try as much as I can. Sometimes I start going downhill a little bit, and then I perk back up. Like I mentioned, my wife has really helped me, as well as the people around me. I got so many nice letters and messages from fans saying, “You’ll be okay. Just hang in there!” Even Lance Armstrong sent me a letter. And when [Deep Purple keyboardist] Jon Lord was ill, before he passed away [in July 2012], I would get messages from him, saying, “Look, if there’s anything I can do to help with the treatments, just ask.” It really does help and makes you want to fight more.</p> <p><strong>How is your health now?</strong></p> <p>When I’d finished the chemo and the radiotherapy, I went to see the doctor again for my regular blood tests. I said, “So it’s gone now?” And he said, “No, it’s not going to go. You’re not going to get rid of it. But we can treat it and work with it.” I got all dismal, because I thought it was gone. He said there was a 30 percent chance of it going away, but I was probably going to have this for life. Now I get treatments to keep it from spreading. So every six weeks I go in for an infusion of Rituximab, which is one of the four ingredients when they give you the chemo. It takes a few hours, and it makes you feel a bit crap inside and a bit sick. But a couple weeks after, I start perking up again. So that’s how we are working it with the shows. I go out, then come back and go into the hospital for more treatment, more blood tests and all the rest of the rubbish. And then we do it all over again.</p> <p><strong>In the best of times, Sabbath are famous for summoning some heavy dark vibes. Did your health struggles add even more grimness to your riffs? </strong></p> <p>Yeah, it made the music even grimmer. I came up with some really grim riffs. [laughs] But the funny thing is, you come up with all these grim riffs and then you get together with the guys and we have so many laughs and so much fun. Ozzy will always say something that cracks me up. Geezer will say something and Ozzy’s like, “What?” And then Geezer will shout at him, “Put your hearing aid in!” [laughs] It’s funny between them two, and it’s great for me. </p> <p><strong>As if juggling cancer treatments and working on the record wasn’t enough to deal with, around that same time Bill announced he wasn’t moving forward with the recording. Did his decision surprise you?</strong></p> <p>It was a hell of a shock. We couldn’t believe it. We had just done the bloody announcement on 11/11/11, and shortly after we had a letter from lawyers saying Bill didn’t want to do it. We couldn’t quite figure out what was going on, because we hadn’t spoke about it. Bill hadn’t sat us down and said, “I really don’t want to do it,” or, “I’m not satisfied with what’s going on.” We wanted him to come back because he wanted to, not because he was bribed back. But it never got that far. It never got to him phoning up and saying, “I want to come back and do it.” But we love Bill, and we’re still the best of friends. I still email him, and I got a message from him the other day. </p> <p><strong>How did you start the process of finding Bill’s replacement?</strong></p> <p>Well, at first we were using Ozzy’s drummer Tommy [Clufetos]. He was a really good player and a nice guy, and it enabled us to continue writing and coming up with ideas. But Rick Rubin wanted to use a different drummer. First, he wanted an English drummer. I said, “Well, who is around the same age as us and around the same era and has that sort of style that we want?” Most are either dead or packed up! [laughs] So he mentions Ginger Baker. And I was like, “Fucking hell! Throw the fat into the fire, you are going from bad to worse! We’ve got enough problems here already and then you want somebody like Ginger Baker?” [laughs] I can’t imagine what that would be like. He mentioned a couple of other big name people, and then moved on to some American drummers. Then he suggested Brad.</p> <p><strong>Were you familiar with Brad’s work?</strong></p> <p>We were familiar with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, of course, but none of us had ever met Brad. We told him to learn “War Pigs” and “Dirty Women” before he came in. When we tried him out, he was obviously really nervous. He’d only really played with those two bands for most of his life. So he was a bit shaky at first, but he got the style after we’d been playing awhile. He got to feel more comfortable, got relaxed and was playing different stuff. It wasn’t that perfect sort of drum thing where you play exactly the same thing every time. It was loose and really natural, which is probably what Bill would have done. Plus, we all liked Brad. He’s really a nice guy.</p> <p><strong>Rick Rubin is known for having an idiosyncratic hands-off way of producing records. What was your experience like with him?</strong></p> <p>Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to make of him at first. His whole idea [of preproduction] was, “Write the song. Call me when you think it’s ready.” So I would. Actually, I’d email him, because I couldn’t phone him…nobody phones him. So I’d email him: “Do you want to come down tonight?” And he’d pop in, have a listen, go, “Yeah, I like that,” or, “I don’t like it.” We wanted him to be more involved, like, “Well, what about changing that, or putting that bit there, or go to the A,” or whatever. But he was this elusive guy that we never really saw.</p> <p>But when we started recording, he was there all the time…lying on the bed with the microphone. [laughs] Blimey, what a strange guy. [laughs] His way of working was he’d have us playing it live in the studio like we did on the first album. We’d play the song a couple times, then Rick would say, “Can you do it again?” After we’d finish, Geezer would be sitting next to me, and I’d say, “That sounded all right didn’t it?” And he’d say, “It was a good one.” And Rick would go, “Do another one.” [laughs] So we’d do another one, and another one, and then Rick would go, “I think we’ve got it, but do you want to try another one to see if you can better it?” Ozzy would be sitting in the booth going, “Fucking hell, we got to do it again?” [laughs] Rick definitely pushed us.</p> <p><strong>When you first met with Rick, he sat you guys down and played you the first Sabbath record. Were you worried he wanted you to make a throwback record? </strong></p> <p>I understood the point he was trying to make. He didn’t want an exact copy of that album, but he wanted the vibe of that album. Like, what would it be if this album was the follow up to Black Sabbath? What would we have done? It’s hard to wipe out 40-odd years and forget all the things we’ve learned. For us, you experiment and you move on. Your sound changes, and your way of doing everything changes. It’s really difficult to go back to the first page again. But I understood what he meant as far as creating the same vibe that the first album had, which was quite raw and natural. </p> <p><strong>When you started recording, did he offer any specific suggestions on how to produce that vibe?</strong></p> <p>We did a lot of preproduction on the tracks so we could go in and play it live. But when we got into Rick’s studio and started playing, he would say, “I’m not sure about that. Can you extend that part? Can you slow that down?” Once you’ve rehearsed it and gotten one tempo in your head, it’s really hard to change, especially without click tracks. But he wanted it that way. He’d say, “If it speeds up that’s fine. If it slows down that’s fine.” We’d gotten out of doing it that way over the years. But when we’d done that first album, it was all up and down.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Did Rick’s desire to capture that old feel extend to the gear used on <em>13</em>, as well?</strong></p> <p>I knew that was his intention, but I was shocked when I walked into the studio and there’s like 20 amps there. I go, “What’s all these?” And the engineer said, “Well, we brought in all these vintage amplifiers for you to play.” I already had my own Laney signature amp there, but he’s like, “Well, these are old Seventies amps.” And I was, “Okay, let’s try them.” So I tried them, and I didn’t find one that remotely got close to the sound. </p> <p><strong>They thought just because the amps were vintage, they would produce that old sound.</strong></p> <p>Yeah. But anybody who had an amp back then, like the Who or whatever, would have them worked on and modified. I remember borrowing a Hiwatt from Pete Townshend in the Seventies, and I thought, Oh this is great, I love this. So I call Hiwatt and ask them to send some amps down. Of course, they sent some and they sounded nothing like Pete’s. That’s because he had them worked on! It was the same with the Marshalls. So this time I knew it wasn’t going to sound great, but they kept going on and on about all the vintage stuff.</p> <p><strong>At what point did you push back on the engineers?</strong></p> <p>They had this old Laney Klipp amp. I’ve been with Laney for a long time, and I knew the early ones used to blow up. So I said, “Blimey, I’m surprised that hasn’t blown up.” And they went, “Oh, no, it’s never blown up.” So I start to play, and I hadn’t been in there an hour and it blows up! [laughs] And they were like, “I can’t believe it’s blown up!” [laughs] So I go in the next day and they’ve got four of these Klipps. I don’t know where they’ve gotten them, because Laney can’t even get them now. I went, “Oh no. I’ve been down this route. I started off with this. I started this bloody stuff!” I’ve gone through all this and now I’m here, and somebody is telling me how to get my sound. That’s a bit weird. So I had to draw the line.</p> <p><strong>After all that, did you end up using your signature Laney model?</strong></p> <p>Yeah, the Laney Iommi model. I had two. I had one out about 10 or 12 years ago [Laney GH100TI]. And the new one, Laney TI100, which has a couple of channels. It’s got preamps and everything built in. I did the bass channel like I did in the early days. I used to plug into the bass channel with the treble boost to give it that sort of sound. In those days boosters were unknown. Nobody used them. It’s supposed to be a clean sound. So I tried the same method with my own Laney. At one point, Rick was saying it was too “metal” sounding. I just plugged it into the other input and said, “I can get the sound. I’m the one that started that sound.” </p> <p><strong>Did they also try to dig out your ’65 Gibson “Monkey” SG from the Hard Rock Cafe?</strong></p> <p>No, that’s still in the Hard Rock in New York. In those days, I used it because that’s what I had, like the amps. It’s what you had so that’s what you’d work with it. And I got used to it and I really liked it. But it was really temperamental. If you touched the neck, it would go all out of tune. And of course things come off in the years—bridges and stuff. So I stopped using it. It was in a case for years. And then we talked with Hard Rock about it, and I decided to retire it there. It’s better to be where somebody else can see it than be stuck in a box in storage. </p> <p><strong>What were your main guitars on the new record?</strong></p> <p>I’ve still got my old Jaydee [“Old Boy” SG], which I really like. J.D. [John Diggins] originally came along to work for me on the road, and he made this first guitar at home on his kitchen table. I kept it for a while and never used it. But then one day I started to use it and I liked it. So now he’s made me about four or five to go on the road with. For the recording, he made me a new Jaydee: a white one with an aged look. I used that, and I used my old Jaydee. Gibson Custom Shop made these limited-edition Iommi SG models, which are really great. I have the first six of those. But I don’t actually think I used one of them on this album. </p> <p>Gibson also made me this custom ES-175 jazz guitar. Actually, they’ve been making it for me for five years. They made it for my 60th birthday, and I’ve just had my 65th, so I don’t know what happened. [laughs] It went wrong somewhere. Years went by, and I thought, Well, they’re never going to do it. And it turned up a week into recording. It’s a one-off black 175, and it’s really lovely. For the acoustic track “Zeitgeist,” I used a big Taylor [815L], which is a great guitar, and the 175 for the outro solo.</p> <p><strong>What were some of the main effects you used this time out?</strong></p> <p>My setup is quite primitive, really. I had a board built to use with Heaven &amp; Hell, with a long delay, which I don’t use now, a chorus and the wah-wah. The wah-wah was the old Tychobrahe, which I’ve used for years. Then the company started making the Parapedal, and I use them now. I’m actually not sure what I’m using right now for the chorus. </p> <p><strong>Let’s talk about some specific tracks. How did “God Is Dead?” come together? Is that main riff one of the things you had stockpiled from your studio demos?</strong></p> <p>I actually came up with the sketches of that heavy riff when we were first writing at Ozzy’s house in L.A. </p> <p><strong>Geezer has a very active bass line in that track, which never gets in the way of your riffs. Can you speak about how your styles complement each other?</strong></p> <p>Well, we’ve really built it up from playing together all these years. He knows exactly what I’m going to play and can follow it. And we do the same things: he’ll bend the strings when I bend the chords and so on. Geezer always knows what to play, and I just love his style. He always knows how much to put in, and also what not to put in.</p> <p><strong>“God Is Dead?” has a relatively short solo break. Did you have that in mind from the start, or was it part of the editing process?</strong></p> <p>I never know how long we are going to do a solo part. On “God Is Dead?” it was actually longer, but Rick moved things a bit. He let the riff go for a bit and then brought the solo in. On some of the others, the ends become a jam and the solos go on longer. </p> <p><strong>“End of the Beginning” starts with a very simple early-Sabbath-style doom line, which you steadily build into an upbeat galloping riff. When you are writing, do you consciously think about how to structure build-and-release dynamics?</strong></p> <p>I suppose so. Once you start off with the riff, you never know where it’s going to go. You just put in another and then another, until it sounds like it flows. I’ve always done it like that. There are a lot of different riffs in some of them. You could make five songs out of one song, really. </p> <p><strong>That song also has two wild solos, which are both pretty long. Did you track those in pieces?</strong></p> <p>The end of that song was one of the jams where we kept it going. Geezer always follows me, so when I’m recording I always have to concentrate and think, Well, if I try something here and I go to the wrong thing, it might all go to pieces. That’s why sometimes I put the chords in, so I can then relax and work in a solo. And I know if I make a mistake in the solo I can do it again. But when you are doing the song live, there’s no room for trying things or for making mistakes.</p> <p><strong>Wait—so you did that outro solo live? Wow, was that nerve-wracking?</strong></p> <p>Yeah, it was. I told them, “Well, I’ll just play, and when I go back into the chords, you’ll know the end is so many from that.”</p> <hr /> <p><strong>So you were laying down the solos live. But what’s your process like when you are writing them? Do you plot them out in advance? </strong></p> <p>No, I can’t sit down and work out solos. I’ve never been able to do that. I just play them. And if I don’t capture them in so many takes, I’ll just leave it and come back to it later.</p> <p><strong>“Epic” contains one of the album’s most lyrical solos. Do you ever think about Ozzy’s parts when you’re soloing?</strong></p> <p>Yeah, I know where Ozzy might sing or roughly where he might go. I did the main theme for “Epic” at home in England, and we started putting in the tempo changes and stuff in L.A. And since Ozzy was there while we were doing it, I knew what he’s going to do, roughly.</p> <p><strong>Because of all the expectations around a new Sabbath record, did the weight of your own legacy ever distract you during this process?</strong></p> <p>Well, you know it’s got to be good. But you can’t let that take over. Otherwise you’ll be all over the place and get too confused. You can’t be led by what everybody is expecting. You’ve just got to play. If you start following trends, it doesn’t work. You’ve got to believe in what you are doing. This is what we do. And if we like it, we know our fans will like it.</p> <p><strong>You’ve completed the record, are recovering from cancer, and are about to hit the road. Have you come out of the other side with a clearer vision about what you want to accomplish in the future? Or are you just taking it a step at a time?</strong></p> <p>It’s really hard, because I have to take it in stages. I don’t know what’s down the road. I just do what I can and enjoy it while I can. No one knew if Sabbath would ever put out another record. So that’s done. And now the next thing, of course, is to do a great show. We don’t have to prove anything. We just have to go out, play our music and enjoy what we do. </p> <p><em>Photo: Travis Shinn</em></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/july%20620.jpg" width="620" height="807" alt="july 620.jpg" /></p> <p><a href="">Brad Angle Google +</a></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/black-sabbath">Black Sabbath</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tony-iommi">Tony Iommi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Articles Black Sabbath July 2013 Tony Iommi Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 08 Aug 2013 16:52:39 +0000 Brad Angle 18437 at