Tony Iommi: "In them days, you had to MAKE your sound – you couldn’t buy a gadget that made whatever sound you wanted"

Tony Iommi
(Image credit: Future)

Perhaps it’s the big, belting crang that introduces us to “War Pigs”. Maybe it’s the wailing drawl that rips into frame without warning, scaring many a tike shitless before the lead riff of “Iron Man” bleeds in. Or, if your roots lie in rock tones a tad more melodic, it might be the unsuspecting first notes that start “Fairies Wear Boots”. But whatever it is, there’s something about Paranoid – the smash-hit second album by British hard-rock pioneers Black Sabbath (one could brand them metal, but purists’ eyes would roll, then glare in one’s direction) – that almost any fan of the guitar can note as a pivotal moment in their musical upbringing. 

Paranoid didn’t invent heavy rock music, but its impact on the genre is downright undeniable. The record launched a generation of would-be virtuosos into the limelight, many of whom started out with their fretboards in hand as nothing more than a conduit to imitate Tony Iommi. The same is true 50 years on from its October ’70 release – Paranoid hasn’t aged a day, sonically, and its themes are more relevant now than ever before.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…