A little Zeppelin goes a long way at Robert Plant’s Vancouver concert

crappy iPhone photo by the Newt By Steve Newton When I interviewed Robert Plant back in 1993, the first thing he said on the phone from New York City was that he was "pissed off" that Black Sabbath wasn't getting back together. He was joking, though. It was more a comment on how frustrated he … Continue reading A little Zeppelin goes a long way at Robert Plant’s Vancouver concert

Album review: Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhoads, Tribute (1987)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 5, 1987 By Steve Newton Everybody has their favourite rock guitarists. "Hendrix," scream some, "Jimi Hendrix rules!" "Page is king," others argue. "Clapton is God," says the next person. And then there are people who bow down before Jeff Beck. Me, I'm a Randy Rhoads kinda guy. I … Continue reading Album review: Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhoads, Tribute (1987)

Rock producer Chris Tsangarides, known for his work with Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and the Tragically Hip, dead at 61

By Steve Newton Sad news to report today. Chris Tsangarides--who produced such albums as Thin Lizzy's Thunder and Lightning, Gary Moore's Back on the Streets, and the Tragically Hip's Fully Completely--died of heart failure today after battling pneumonia. He was only 61. Tsangarides, who specialized in hard rock, had also worked on albums by Black … Continue reading Rock producer Chris Tsangarides, known for his work with Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and the Tragically Hip, dead at 61

The Outlaws’ triple-guitar attack outshines Foghat’s boogie-blues in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 4, 1987 By Steve Newton The raunchy guitar sounds of the '70s were all the rage at the Commodore last weekend (November 27 and 28), with British boogiemeisters Foghat headlining over Florida-based southern rockers the Outlaws. But it was the triple-guitar attack of the openers that was the real … Continue reading The Outlaws’ triple-guitar attack outshines Foghat’s boogie-blues in Vancouver

Album review: Black Sabbath, Past Lives (2002)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 10, 2002 By Steve Newton I like collecting guitar picks. Whenever I’m near the stage and some six-string legend tosses out one of those wee plastic nubs, I’ll do what it takes to nab it. My most highly prized catch is a plain orange Ronnie Montrose pick … Continue reading Album review: Black Sabbath, Past Lives (2002)

HIM’s Ville Valo discovered the dark side of rock through Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 7, 2007 By Steve Newton According to Ville Valo, lead vocalist for Finnish rockers HIM, "It's very hard to sing about sunshine and ice cream and birds in fast cars." So he doesn't even try. Instead, song titles like "Cyanide Sun", "Dead Lovers' Lane", and "Song or Suicide" … Continue reading HIM’s Ville Valo discovered the dark side of rock through Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper”

Opeth founder Mikael Åkerfeldt loves ’70s rock, says he was born in the wrong decade

randall vasquez photo By Steve Newton One run-through of its new album, Sorceress, is evidence enough that Swedish quintet Opeth was heavily influenced by ’70s prog rock. The disc was also recorded at the famed Rockfield Studios in Wales, where bands like Rush, Budgie, Hawkwind, and Queen laid down prog-heavy tracks back in the day. As … Continue reading Opeth founder Mikael Åkerfeldt loves ’70s rock, says he was born in the wrong decade

That time Tony Iommi told me about the “loon” who wanted to stab him onstage at a Black Sabbath show

By Steve Newton This is probly the last audio excerpt I'll post from my 2007 interview with legendary Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi. Maybe one day I'll just post the whole damn conversation--and the one from 1984 as well. You'll have to keep checking back to find out, I suppose. Anyway, this excerpt I thought was … Continue reading That time Tony Iommi told me about the “loon” who wanted to stab him onstage at a Black Sabbath show

That time Tony Iommi told me about the early rivalry between Black Sabbath and Deep Purple

By Steve Newton When I interviewed guitar legend Tony Iommi back in March of 2007 he was bringing his Ronnie James Dio-fronted version of Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, to Vancouver for a show at the Pacific Coliseum with Megadeth and Down. At one point I asked Iommi whether he was a fan of Dio's … Continue reading That time Tony Iommi told me about the early rivalry between Black Sabbath and Deep Purple

That time back in ’84 when Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi told me: “If I go deaf, I go deaf”

By Steve Newton Sometimes when I interviewed heavy-metal bands in the '80s I'd play the devil's advocate and ask silly questions like "What do you say to people who think you're too loud?". Or if they were really heavy--like Black Sabbath--I'd ask them if they were worried about damaging their hearing with their music. I … Continue reading That time back in ’84 when Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi told me: “If I go deaf, I go deaf”

That time Tony Iommi told me about that Spinal Tap moment with Stonehenge props on Black Sabbath’s Born Again tour

I'm pretty sure these are the smaller Stonehenge props Iommi mentions at the very end of the excerpt. By Steve Newton Previously I've offered up audio excerpts from my 1984 interview with Tony Iommi in which the Black Sabbath guitarist talked about blowing up singer Ian Gillan's boat during recording sessions for Born Again, and … Continue reading That time Tony Iommi told me about that Spinal Tap moment with Stonehenge props on Black Sabbath’s Born Again tour

That time Tony Iommi told me that a second Black Sabbath album with Ian Gillan would probably turn out better than Born Again

By Steve Newton A few days ago I posted a blog that featured a snippet from my 1984 interview with Tony Iommi, in which he talked about blowing up Black Sabbath singer Ian Gillan’s boat during the recording sessions for Born Again. As any Sabbath fan knows, the band only made one album with Gillan … Continue reading That time Tony Iommi told me that a second Black Sabbath album with Ian Gillan would probably turn out better than Born Again

That time Tony Iommi told me about the guys from Black Sabbath blowing up singer Ian Gillan’s boat

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 … Continue reading That time Tony Iommi told me about the guys from Black Sabbath blowing up singer Ian Gillan’s boat

That time Robert Plant told me he was “very very pissed off” that Black Sabbath wasn’t going to reform

By Steve Newton Now here's a fun little soundbite I just digitized off an old cassette I had lying around from 1993. It's an AudioMagnetics XHE 60, so good on them for making tapes that still work 23 years later. That particular tape also includes 1993 interviews with Devin Townsend, Steve Hackett of Genesis fame, … Continue reading That time Robert Plant told me he was “very very pissed off” that Black Sabbath wasn’t going to reform

That time I asked Ronnie James Dio about stepping into Ozzy Osbourne’s shoes in Black Sabbath

By Steve Newton There's no denying that Ronnie James Dio did an incredible job replacing Ozzy Osbourne as the singer in Black Sabbath. The moment I heard "Neon Nights", the opening track on Dio's first Sabbath album, Heaven and Hell, I knew the heavy-metal stars had aligned. The music had way more power and feel than … Continue reading That time I asked Ronnie James Dio about stepping into Ozzy Osbourne’s shoes in Black Sabbath

Back in the ‘Wack Vol. 9: Thunderhead are “heavy metal all the way”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CHILLIWACK PROGRESS, JUNE 17, 1981 By Steve Newton (In the final story of a series on local bands that has profiled Joker, The Lakers, The Vacationers, Loose Change, Citizen's Band, The Postcards, Midnight Smoke and Homegrown, The Progress presents a look at Thunderhead.) Heavily metallic rock music has come a long way … Continue reading Back in the ‘Wack Vol. 9: Thunderhead are “heavy metal all the way”

Bruce Dickinson in ’83: “It would be unthinkable to make an Iron Maiden album without Martin Birch”

By Steve Newton Back in June of 1983 I did a phone interview with Bruce Dickinson in advance of Iron Maiden's show in Vancouver on the Piece of Mind tour. During the course of our conversation Dickinson claimed that it would be "unthinkable" for Iron Maiden to make an album without producer Martin Birch, who … Continue reading Bruce Dickinson in ’83: “It would be unthinkable to make an Iron Maiden album without Martin Birch”

Black Sabbath gets all Paranoid at final Vancouver gig

By Steve Newton Every Black Sabbath freak has his fave Sabbath album. I for one have long trumpeted the supreme awesomeness of 1975's Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath. Others point to the band's spooky self-titled debut of 1970 as its pinnacle achievement. But most of the Sabbath fans I've encountered tend to regard Paranoid--also released in 1970--as the heavy-metal … Continue reading Black Sabbath gets all Paranoid at final Vancouver gig

Vancouver rockers, radio hosts, and record-store owners reflect on the power of Black Sabbath

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 15, 1999 By Steve Newton Because of its brutal sound and satanic overtones, Black Sabbath was never as widely accepted as the Beatles or the Stones, but its influence among rock fans is incredibly far-reaching. We asked a few local hard-rock aficionados and musicians to divulge their fondest … Continue reading Vancouver rockers, radio hosts, and record-store owners reflect on the power of Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath reissues bring back memories of “War Pigs”-inspired furniture abuse

By Steve Newton I have hazy memories of the very first albums I ever owned, but there's three that stick out in my mind: Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies, Deep Purple's Fireball, and Black Sabbath's Paranoid. I used to play the hell out of them on an ancient stereo downstairs in my parents' "rumpus room". And my favourite … Continue reading Black Sabbath reissues bring back memories of “War Pigs”-inspired furniture abuse

Me and My Colonoscopy: the story of a man and his ass

By Steve Newton Normally I just use this site to write about guitar-rock and horror movies and good stuff like that, but I recently had a colonoscopy, so figured I should write about that too, because, you know--what's more hilarious than the thought of somebody pokin' around in your butt, tryna see stuff? And besides, it's like a … Continue reading Me and My Colonoscopy: the story of a man and his ass

Ronnie James Dio: the Lost Interview of 1985, an Ear of Newt exclusive

By Steve Newton On December 20, 1985, Ronnie James Dio called me up at home and we chatted for 20 minutes or so. How cool was that? The legendary heavy-metal artist was doing press promoting his Sacred Heart tour, which was scheduled to play Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum on December 28, with guest Yngwie Malmsteen. We talked … Continue reading Ronnie James Dio: the Lost Interview of 1985, an Ear of Newt exclusive

Defender of the faith: Rob Halford only sees the good in Ozzy Osbourne’s Sabbath role

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Rob Halford in advance of Judas Priest's double-header at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver this week we got to talking about a mutual favourite subject: Black Sabbath. He's performed with the band three times, so we chatted about his fave Sabbath tune to sing ("Black Sabbath") and how Priest is currently using … Continue reading Defender of the faith: Rob Halford only sees the good in Ozzy Osbourne’s Sabbath role

Judas Priest’s Rob Halford calls “Black Sabbath” the most evil song that’s ever been written

By Steve Newton I was interviewing Rob Halford yesterday in advance of Judas Priest's two shows at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver this month and, as old-school rockheads will do, we got to talkin' Sabbath. I'd known that Halford had sang with the metal legends three times--twice covering for Ronnie James Dio, and once for … Continue reading Judas Priest’s Rob Halford calls “Black Sabbath” the most evil song that’s ever been written

Fu Manchu founder Scott Hill just likes big, loud, heavy stuff

By Steve Newton When you check out the song titles on its latest CD, Gigantoid, it’s clear that Fu Manchu still has a hankering for sci-fi–oriented tuneage. The band that once proudly named a song after the flaky Farrah Fawcett flick Saturn 3—which Roger Ebert dubbed “awesomely stupid and totally implausible”—still churns out rockin’ ditties like “Dimension … Continue reading Fu Manchu founder Scott Hill just likes big, loud, heavy stuff

Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” chosen as the top heavy-metal song of all time

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 4, 2003 Toronto-based music writer Martin Popoff is Canada’s top expert on heavy metal. Senior editor of metal mag Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and author of The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal, the Trail, B.C.–raised Popoff certainly knows his stuff when it comes to raunchy rock. The … Continue reading Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” chosen as the top heavy-metal song of all time

Old Geezer’s still got it: Sabbath bassist arrested after altercation in Death Valley

By Steve Newton Apart from the ominous tone of its name—and the fierceness of its music—Black Sabbath as a band hasn't been known as the rowdiest of legendary rock acts. When I interviewed guitarist Tony Iommi way back in 1984 he seemed like the perfect gentleman on the phone. And despite his "let's-go-fucking-crazy!" approach to life in general, singer Ozzy … Continue reading Old Geezer’s still got it: Sabbath bassist arrested after altercation in Death Valley