Remember When Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi Was in Jethro Tull?

It’s always fun to wonder about “what could have been.”

What if Jeff Beck had joined the Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor’s departure? What if the Beatles had got back together in 1976 or 1979? What if Tony Iommi had stayed in Jethro Tull?

Here’s the one-and-only video of Iommi—the man who would go on to be the mainstay—the rock—behind Black Sabbath—on stage with his one-time band, Jethro Tull. The event was The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which took place in December 1968 at Intertel Studio, Wembley, England.

Besides the Iommi-infused version of Tull, the show featured the Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull—plus John Lennon, who performed with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell and Keith Richards. (There’s another “what could’ve been” for ya; that would’ve been an interesting full-time band).

It was originally meant to be aired on the BBC, but the Stones withheld it, saying they didn’t love their substandard performance (They were tired from an all-night flight). It also might’ve been because the Who totally stole the show (because they did). I guess we’ll never know. Anyway, it wasn’t released until 1996.

Below, check out Iommi miming along to “A Song for Jeffrey” as Ian Anderson (in his gigantic coat) sings live.

Ah yes, a bit of explanation …

Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward and Osbourne were in a band called Earth. They carried on until December 1968, when Iommi joined Tull. This (the video below), however, was his only appearance with the band. He quickly came back to Earth.

“I learned quite a lot from [Anderson], I must say,” Iommi said. “I learned that you have got to work at it. You have to rehearse. When I came back and I got the [Earth] back together, I made sure everybody was up early in the morning and rehearsing. I used to go and pick them up. I was the only one at the time that could drive. I used to have to drive the bloody van and get them up at quarter to nine every morning; which was, believe me, early for us then. I said to them, ‘This is how we have got to do it because this is how Jethro Tull did it’.”

In the bottom video, you can hear more of Iommi’s comments about his brief time with Jethro Tull. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.