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Heaven And Hell: Devil's Music

Heaven And Hell were Dio era Sabbath under a different name. In 2010, Ronnie Dio and Tony Iommi talked to Classic Rock about their professional relationship

“Well, we really feel exactly like we did. If we haven’t seen each other for 12 years, it feels exactly like it did 12 years ago. It’s quite phenomenal, aside from the fact we’ve mellowed and learned how to deal with each other, and how not to let this happen, and if it does happen how to make sure it’s a nice parting of ways.

“And I’m not trying to predestine anything here, but let’s face it, it’s happened a couple of other times, it could happen again. We were very cautious about this one because we knew what the pitfalls were, and we knew how to avoid those particular pitfalls. I forgot what I was saying…”

Ronnie James Dio takes a breath at the end of a breathless sentence that comes at the end of a breathless week. Seven days ago he and his partners in Heaven And Hell were yet to sign a record deal for their third album together, The Devil You Know. Come this sunny Friday evening, not only is the contract with Roadrunner Records complete, but also preview copies are in the hands of journalists, the record will be out within the month, and he and Tony Iommi are on the line to Classic Rock in support of it, Dio from his home in California and Iommi from his in the West Midlands.

Both are so happy with the record, which has spun off the back of a long tour, that they seem unwilling to jinx the union by failing to acknowledge the fragilities of their shared and fractured past.  

The story of the second-most famous and successful line-up of Black Sabbath has an arc that is almost as dramatic as the original. Together from 1979, when Dio replaced Ozzy, until 1982, when Dio and drummer Vinny Appice quit during the mixing of the Live Evil album, and then again in 1992 for an album, Dehumanizer, that was racked with creative tension and a tour that ended when Dio refused to open for Ozzy Osbourne, these boys have history.

“We were apart a long time and we’ve had ups and downs,” says Iommi. “We’re all very temperamental in our different ways. You’ll get upset and suddenly say something. But we’ve learned to live with that. Someone will go off in a huff and we’ll take no notice. In the early days we didn’t, we’d bite back and things would go up in the air. We know now they don’t mean anything by it. On the road we have a good laugh. I think we’ve got a good friendship going. We love what we do and we like to make the best out of what we can.”  

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