Black Sabbath Interviews (1987-1989)

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Classic Rock - Interviews, Deep Purple Family, My photographs


Here is two interviews with Black Sabbath dating back to 1987 and 1989. The first was made with Tony Iommi over the phone in October 1987 when he was busy doing press for the “Eternal Idol” album and the second was made in Stockholm on September 14 1989 with Tony Martin at the bands hotel in Stockholm, when they toured for the “Headless Cross” album. The images above was taken by me in Solnahallen in Stockholm in 1989 (inserted in a nature shot from my neck of the woods).

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Here´s the Tony Iommi chat…

When we spoke the last time you said that “Seventh Star” was originally meant to be a solo album and that you had other songs written that sounded more like Black Sabbath in the can. Has some of that stuff ended up on this record now?

– Yes, tracks like “Born To Lose”, “The Shining” and parts of “Nightmare” existed at that time.

So what happens now? Have you made a video for one of the tracks on the new album?

– Yes, we did a video for “The Shining” down at the London docks last week. On November 22 the world tour starts in Germany and from there we go to Italy. Then we take a pause before playing Britain and in January we´ll go to the States. There´s talk about Japan and Australia and possibly more shows in America after that, but we have to wait and see.

Lets talk some more about the new record. On “Seventh Star” you wrote the bulk of the lyrics yourself for the first time, did you do that for “Eternal Idol” as well?

– No, very little of it this time. Bob Daisley actually wrote most of the lyrics for this album. He spent three weeks with us in the studio. He also played some bass on the record.

What is the title track about?

– It´s named after a famous sculpture that I found at an exhibition in London. Originally, I had another work by the same artist (Auguste Rodin) called “The Gates of Hell” in mind, but that one would have been tricky to get down for a good album cover, so we did “Eternal Idol” instead. I´m very interested in the arts.

Which songs have been selected for the show?

– We´ll decide that next week when we gear up for the tour. I think we´ll do the title track and “The Shining”. Most of them I guess. From the last album I think we´ll just keep the blues track, “Heart Like A Wheel”. The rest of the set will be classics like “Paranoid” and “Iron Man”. I didn´t really like the last album, the new one is a lot better I think.

What about the stage show? Gigantic or more down to earth?

– We´ll trim it down a little, there´s no reason to go crazy with that. That was a lesson that we learnt on the “Born Again” tour. We could only use the entire set for one show on that entire tour.

Have you been in touch with any of the old guys recently?

– Only with Geezer Butler. He actually rehearsed with us for three weeks about a month ago, but decided not to do it in the end.

But the door is open for a reunion at some point in the future?

– Probably, yes. I don´t have any problems with Geezer and the others.

Lets talk about other things. Most musicians I meet seems to be big fans of John Cleese, is that true of you as well?

– Yes, I love Fawlty Towers. A friend gave me that on video for my last birthday as a matter of fact. I also think that Get Smart is brilliant, but I think that has only been shown in America.

Have you ever been involved in a film score?

– They asked us to do the music for the latest “Nightmare On Elm Street” movie but we didn´t have the time to do it. They eventually asked Dokken and they did it and now it´s a huge hit in America.

If anybody actually offered you a part in a movie, would you do it?

– No, film cameras make me ill at ease. It´s enough to do a four minute music video. All I want to do is play the guitar, that´s what I live for.

You played in Sun City in South Africa a while back, I assume you took some heat for that?

– Yes, but only from the press! Lots of artists have played there so I didn´t think it would be a problem if we did, but I was wrong. Personally, I don´t think that politics and music belongs together at all. We´ve fans in South Africa as well and we played for them and not for the politicians or anybodys politics.

Frank Sinatra was recently denied a working visa here in Sweden for playing in South Africa, did you know about that?

– No, that´s news to me. We certainly hope to visit Sweden on the upcoming tour so I hope that this doesn´t spoil that for us.

* * *

Here is snippets of a chat I had with Tony Martin in 1989, I thought it would sit well together with the Iommi chat…

How did you get the job to sing in Black Sabbath?

– My manager went to school with Tony Iommi so because of that we´ve known each other casually for years. So when Ray Gillen left during the “Eternal Idol” sessions Tony called us and asked if I would be interested to have a jam with them in the studio. So I did and that was it.

The new album, “Headless Cross”, is regarded as a classic Black Sabbath album even at this early stage by many, that must be a good feeling for you guys to hear?

– Yes, and the great thing with Black Sabbath at the moment is that this really is a fresh start. We´ve even realised that we have a brand new audience out there that supports us, and they weren´t even born most of them when this band started, or even when “Heaven And Hell” came out. We´re proud that we´ve fans that care deeply for the band in spite of all the changes in the lineup, the problems with managers and record companies and all the bad stuff that has been negative for the name. We had fans in England that travelled with us from city to city to catch as many shows as possible. Rockfans are a lot more faithful to their music than discofans. A rockfan will sell the shirt of his back to catch a show. He´ll support his band for many years come hell or high water.

You wrote the lyrics to “Valley Of The Kings” on John Sykes first Blue Murder record. What happened there?

– I did help him out in the studio and one of the lyrics was for that song. He wanted me in the band but my manager read the small print in the contract and he adviced me not to take the job because the deal was not a good one. Then the Sabbath thing happened again and I got involved with the new record. But John never told me that he was going to use my lyrics so there´s a song on the Sabbath-record that has a few lines that are almost identical. John has a good voice, he´s inspired by Glenn Hughes, but I wonder if he can do it live? I´ve played the guitar myself since I was seven, but when I started to sing I concentrated on that.

What is the plan right now?

– Well, the tour continues here in Europe, then we´ll pick up more equipment in England before we travel to Japan. Then we´ll go to Mexico and then we go to the Soviet Union for 10 shows in Leningrad and 10 shows in Moscow. We´ll perform twice a day as a matter of fact. It´s going to be tough but I´m sure it´ll be worth it. We´ll play to 500 000 rockfans and that can only be good for us if the Soviet Union opens up more in the future.

You kicked off the tour with four weeks of shows in America, will you go back there for a second tour later on?

– No, we should have played six weeks in the States but we cancelled the last two when we discovered that the promotion wasn´t very effective. The record company did nothing and that is important if you´re on the road. People didn´t know that we´re out there. You know, it´s a bit strange because America used to be Sabbath´s strongest market and now that is not the case anymore. We´re getting the big support in Europe now, and “Headless Cross” has sold over 100 000 copies in West Germany alone. The priority now is simple, we have to establish the name Black Sabbath again and make it as great as it was before all the hassle started. So we just have to work our asses off now. “Headless Cross” is the most important record that Black Sabbath has released since “Heaven And Hell”. That one was also made during a pretty critical time for the band and I have to say that Ronnie James Dio did an excellent job back then, especially if you consider the pressure that he must have felt. I mean, he was the first guy to replace Ozzy.

* * *

Michael Eriksson (c)

(No part of these interviews may be used without permission)

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  2. […] out the interview here. “The Shining” video […]

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