BLACK SABBATH's TONY IOMMI Recalls The 'Heaven And Hell' Era

Julian Marszalek of Spinner.com recently conducted an interview with legendary heavy metal guitarist Tony Iommi (BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN & HELL). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Spinner.com: How did you come to work with Ronnie James Dio?

Iommi: I met him at a party at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in L.A. and it had got to a point where it wasn't working with Ozzy. I phoned Ronnie up to see if he wanted to come up for a jam and he said, "Yeah" so he came over to the house in L.A. and we had all the gear set up and went into the studio and that was it!

Spinner.com: BLACK SABBATH sound rejuvenated on "Heaven and Hell". Was Ronnie's presence a case of the remaining SABBATH members being on their best behaviour to impress the new boy and deliver the goods?

Iommi: I think that's true. For us, it was so frustrating for those 11 months where we hadn't done anything it was such a great relief when somebody comes along and these things were working finally. And that's no disrespect to Ozzy; he just wasn't in the right state of mind then.

Spinner.com: How did the band dynamic change once Ronnie James Dio came on board?

Iommi: I actually think it gave us that kick up the arse that we really needed. We were so used to being able to do tours and albums and we'd done all the things we were able to do so suddenly when Ronnie came on board he gave us that challenge again to make us fight.

Spinner.com: What were the circumstances surrounding the sudden departure of drummer Bill Ward?

Iommi: Bill had a very big problem with alcohol and he just couldn't face it any more; he had to go and get himself sorted out but he left on the day of the bloody gig. He'd just got in this bus and gone! Blimey! He'd been up all night thinking about what he's going to do and after drinking all night, he just left like that! We had to cancel that gig big time because he'd left us in the shit and we had to postpone things until we found another drummer.

We had some cassettes and Ronnie said, "I've got this one of [drummer] Vinny Appice," and we had a listen and thought, "Yeah, let's try him." So we tried him and he came to the rehearsal and I'm not kidding, but he had this really tiny bass drum. The whole kit was like a kid's kit and I'm like, "Fuckin' hell!"

I looked at Vinny and thought, "Well, it must just be his practice kit or something" but we decided that he was playing well and we'll carry on with him and a couple of days later we had a gig in Hawaii — it was a huge festival and we were headlining.

So we went out and I was shitting myself because I hadn't played with another drummer in years — I played with Bill long before SABBATH, even — and I turned round and there was this huge drum riser with this little kit! It looked like a "Spinal Tap"-type thing! Fuckin' hell! It looked absolutely ridiculous — a wall of speakers [on one side of the stage], another wall of speakers and in the middle was this huge drum riser with a tiny kit and it looked absolutely stupid and that put me more into a panic.

Vinny had also made a note of the songs because he'd only played with us once before but it started raining and all his notes got smudged! It was like one of those, "What's next?" moments! Just unbelievable!

But anyway, we got through the show and I said to Vinny, "You've got to get a bigger kit; you can't go on like that. It just doesn't look right." His kit is huge now but to this day he blames me [for the size of it]. We say, "Do you really need all those extra drums?" and he goes, "Well, it was your idea!" so I get that thrown back in my face all the time now!

Read the entire interview at Spinner.com.

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