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Tony Iommi: Five Things Life Has Taught Me

Having played the final show at the end of The End tour, Tony Iommi sat down with Classic Rock to reveal what he'd learned during Black Sabbath's long career...

One of the standout features of Classic Rock 243 is The Gospel According To Tony Iommi, in which the legendary Black Sabbath guitarist looks back over his band's long and storied career, and reveals what he's learned. Here are just five highlights...


Always believe in the impossible

I lost the tips of two fingers in an accident on the day that I was due to leave my job in a sheet metal factory to turn professional. I was only seventeen years old, and the doctors told me there was no point in trying to continue playing the guitar. But I wouldn’t give up and eventually I found a way. All through my life I’ve had that same attitude. If band members left, then I never gave up. You find somebody else and you carry on. And eventually of course we all came back together.

I’ve no idea where those riffs come from

I’m just grateful that they do. They come out of the air; I don’t sit down and work them out. They just arrive. It’s all very strange. I can sit down and two or three different riffs will come along in ten minutes. Some of them will be crap but most are usable. I’m useless at most other things, but if there’s one thing I can do in life then it’s write riffs.

The last Sabbath show was weird

The feeling built as we crept towards to the final gig at the Genting Arena, but it didn’t really sink in till the day of the show. Looking out at the audience during the last few songs, people were crying. Those people idolise you and love what you do. In a way it felt like we were letting them down. It was a shame.

Continued below...

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Sabbath’s earliest gigs were crap

How we got from those days to what the band eventually became, I’m really not sure. We would play places where nobody was interested. Or we’d turn up and people would think that we were playing pop, when of course we weren’t. I recall a gig at a place called the Toe Bar in Egremont and this bloke shouted out: “Your singer’s crap.” That was really embarrassing. Of course, we improved as the years went by, but we certainly had to teach people – and ourselves – about what we were doing, because it was so different. It was a very steep learning curve.

Has anyone got the Black Zeppelin tape?

We were really good mates with Led Zeppelin, especially Robert Plant and John Bonham who came from the Midlands. Zeppelin had wanted us to be on their label, Swan Song, but we couldn’t make it work out. During the recording of the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album [1973], Zeppelin came into the studio for a jam. John wanted to play Supernaut [from the previous year’s _Vol 4_] but we jammed instead. We were in the middle of recording so it fucked up the session. I know that it wasrecorded, and I’d love to hear it. The tape must be around somewhere.


You can read the full version of this feature in The Gospel According To Tony Iommi, in the latest issue of Classic Rock. Buy it online or become a TeamRock+ member to read it right now.

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