20 Years Ago: Tony Iommi Releases ‘Iommi’

A few years prior to his reconciliation with the Ozzy Osbourne-fronted Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi started working on his star-studded solo album, Iommi, which came out Oct. 17, 2000. The record, which took almost five years to write and record, included guest vocals by Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, Phil Anselmo, Peter Steele, Billy Idol and others, and it still stands as an in impressive, eclectic and underrated piece of Iommi’s career.

While it might seem like a no-brainer that Iommi would include a track with Osbourne and drummer Bill Ward right before a Sabbath reunion, “Who’s Fooling Who” marked the first time Iommi worked on an original studio song with Ozzy and Ward since 1978’s Never Say Die (Ward last played with Sabbath on 1983’s Born Again).

“Who’s Fooling Who” starts with a tolling bell and a drum fill before bursting into an apocalyptic doom riff. Then Osbourne enters, singing first in a high baritone, then shifting into a more familiar and comfortable tenor as Iommi blasts out yet another classic rhythm. It’s hardly the only keeper on the album. “Flame On,” with The Cult’s Ian Astbury, “Black Oblivion,” fronted by Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, “Patterns,” with System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and “Time is Mine,” powered by Anselmo, are all winners.

Iommi Feat. Serj Tankian, “Patterns”

Interestingly, Iommi adjusts his playing to accommodate the different music styles. “Laughing Man (In The Devil Mask”), which is fronted by Rollins — features abrupt staccato guitars reminiscent of Helmet, and “Goodbye Lament,” with vocals by Grohl and guitars by Queen’s Brian May, is a hybrid of melodic alternative, electro-rock and downtuned metal. But regardless of what subgenres Iommi explores, he never abandons his signature sound, holding together what might otherwise be a schizophrenic collection of songs.

Iommi co-wrote the album with co-producer Bob Marlette and the guest vocalists, with the exception of “Black Oblivion,” which was penned solely by Iommi and Corgan. Writing sessions for Iommi were productive, leaving the guitarist a multitude of tracks to choose from. Anselmo and Iommi worked on three tracks, including the unreleased “Inversion of the Saviours,” Idol worked on three as well and Corgan guested on two.

Iommi Feat. Billy Corgan, “Black Oblivion”

In addition to showcasing a who’s who of rock vocalists, Iommi highlights an impressive variety of guest musicians, including Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd, Soundgarden / Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, ex-White Zombie drummer John Tempesta and legendary session drummer Kenny Aronoff.

Released in a dark season for metal, Iommi debuted at No. 129 on the Billboard 200 chart. The single, “Goodbye Lament,” made it to No. 10 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, but strangely, “Who’s Fooling Who” was not issued as a single.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

See Where Tony Iommi Ranks Among Our Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists of All Time

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Tony Iommi + Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason Recorded a Song Together

Black Sabbath legend Tony Iommi has confirmed that he’s recorded a new charity song with lone Pink Floyd constant, Nick Mason. Other notable musicians are said to be involved and Iommi speculated that The Rolling StonesRonnie Wood could be one of them.

Speaking with Spain’s La Heavy magazine, Iommi was first asked if any progress had been made regarding the collaborative effort between him and Queen‘s Brian May that had been in discussion.

“We’ve been talking for years about doing something together and we haven’t gotten around to it yet,” said Iommi, who chalked most of the difficulty up to scheduling and touring. “We haven’t really gone any further with it,” the guitarist continued as he also took stock of May’s current situation (he suffered from a torn gluteal muscle and a heart attack this year). “At the moment Brian has been going through a lot of medical things, but who knows? It’d be nice at some point to do something.”

Then, Iommi turned his attention toward new music that he has actually been working on and confirmed one big name while another legendary rocker could be in the mix as well.

“At the moment I’ve started putting some ideas down myself now and I played on a track with Nick Mason a few weeks ago,” Iommi revealed, noting, “We’re doing a charity record for cancer. I was asked if I’d play and come up with some riffs for it. There’s a lot of other celebrities doing something for this album so I said, ‘Yeah, it’d be nice to do that.’ I think there’s Nick Mason, myself and I think Ronnie Wood is going to play a bit on this track as well. I’m not sure.”

Hopefully there will be more new music from Iommi sooner rather than later. The 72-year-old metal icon said he has “loads” of new material earlier this year. Time will tell if it amounts to a new record.

Tony Iommi Reveals Collaborative Charity Song With Nick Mason

See Black Sabbath in the Best Metal Song of Each Year Since 1970

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Tony Iommi’s Struggle with ‘Horrible’ ‘Paranoid’ Solo

Tony Iommi recalled how much he hated the guitar solo on Black Sabbath’s breakthrough single “Paranoid,” and added that he spent time resenting the song.

It was written at the last minute when the band were told their second album was too short, and took around two hours to create. Believing the resulting track had hit potential, Sabbath’s label released it in August 1970 and renamed the album in its honor – another move that upset Iommi.

In an interview with Kerrang, the guitarist said that producer Rodger Bain had added a ring modulation sound effect to Ozzy Osbourne’s voice for “Iron Man.” He continued: “Rodger also used that on the guitar solo on the track ‘Paranoid’ itself. At first, I said, ‘What the hell’s that?! It sounds horrible!’ But they went ahead and picked it as the solo that ended up on the record all the same.” He added: “I’ve got used to it now.”

Black Sabbath – ‘Paranoid’

Iommi said of the album title change from War Pigs – their own preference – to Paranoid: “We didn’t have much pull in those days, so we didn’t really have a say in the matter… but we were pretty angry about it.” Going back to the song, he noted: “I really like it. I always have. Nowadays people know what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved so I can accept what Paranoid represents, whereas back then I would’ve been more critical of it because it stood for something else.”

Reflecting on Black Sabbath’s career as a result of Paranoid’s success, he said: “It means that we’ve been there for a purpose, and that people can relate to what we’ve done and learn from it. Our music is, by the standards of today, basic. But what we had comes from the heart.”

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How Eddie Van Halen Co-Wrote a Black Sabbath Song With Tony Iommi

In 1978, when Van Halen‘s debut album was released, the band secured an opening slot for Black Sabbath and it was the start of a lasting friendship between guitar figureheads Tony Iommi and Eddie Van Halen. Nearly two decades later, Van Halen co-wrote the Sabbath song “Evil Eye” with Iommi, who recently told Rolling Stone how it all happened while also reflecting on the guitarist’s death.

Sabbath were in the studio working on what would come to be 1994′ Cross Purposes, their 17th overall album and fourth with singer Tony Martin. During this time, Van Halen were on tour and played in Birmingham, England and Iommi went to meet up with the band.

“You ought to come down to rehearsal if you want,” Iommi told Eddie, who replied, “Oh, can I?”

Iommi continued, “I said, ‘I’ll pick you up from the hotel.’ I said, ‘Let’s go and get a guitar.’ We went down to the music shop in Birmingham. I said, ‘Can you lend us a guitar for Eddie?’ And of course, they went, ‘Oh, oh, wha’?’ [Laughs] So Eddie came in with me, and we got one of his guitars, his own model. And he came to rehearsal.”

“We played some of the Sabbath stuff for him. One of his favorites was ‘Into The Void’, strangely enough,” the Sabbath legend went on. “We played that and we went back to writing. I think it was ‘Evil Eye’, and I said, ‘Go on, you play the solo on this.’ He did and it was really great. When we recorded it, of course, I tried to duplicate that, but I couldn’t. [Laughs]”

The Sabbath guitarist also confirmed he has the tape recording of Eddie’s solo. “I don’t know where it is amongst my lot, but there is one,” he said. “I know I’ve got one. It was a real gem.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Iommi praised the Van Halen icon as a humble man and a “genuinely great person” who would “throw his arms around you and really show his affection” every time you met. Iommi also said the two had remained in touch often and would meet up for dinner whenever he was in Los Angeles.

In an effort to summarize Eddie Van Halen’s impact on music, the Sabbath co-founder gushed, “He’s had probably one of the biggest influences that you could have on people, from his generation onwards. He came up with something completely different. How hard is that, to come up with something different guitar-wise? I think he’s inspired so many people. There’s millions of people out there all trying to do that tapping stuff and play like Eddie and play Eddie’s solos. I think he’s had a huge impression on millions and millions of guitar players.”

Eddie Van Halen died earlier this week (Oct. 6) at the age of 65 after spending years battling throat cancer. The influential guitarist was remembered fondly by his family and bandmates and received an outpouring of love from his peers, many of whom cite him as a crucial influence and the reason they wanted to start playing guitar.

Black Sabbath, “Evil Eye”

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