The Tony Iommi Tapes, 1984: on disturbing the village priest and blowing up Gillan’s boat

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By Steve Newton

Back in January of 1984 I called Tony Iommi up for a chat at his home in Birmingham, England.

I was pretty psyched, since Sabbath albums like Paranoid, Volume 4, and Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath had meant a lot to me as a metal-loving teenager in the ’70s, growing up in the wilds of Chilliwack, British Columbia.

Iommi was one of my musical heroes, based solely on his ability to forge unstoppable riffs.

But January of ’84 wasn’t a great time for Black Sabbath. Five months earlier the band has released what is arguably its weakest album, Born Again. After Ronnie James Dio had left the lineup, Sabbath’s manager Don Arden–father of Ozzy keeper Sharon Osbourne–had the bright idea of getting former Deep Purple screamer Ian Gillan in the band. Although Gillan was great chums with the other members, the musical chemistry wasn’t there. His singing style didn’t fit the Sabbath mold. Maybe it wasn’t menacing enough. I remember trading in my promotional copy of Born Again pretty quick.

I wasn’t gonna let my own issues with the tunes get in the way of doing my first interview with the Riffmaster General, though. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation where I ask him about the inspiration for “Disturbing the Priest” and the rumours that the band played explosive tricks on the new singer.

Have a listen:

 

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