Legendary BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi has shared a year-end video message in which he outlined some of the projects that kept him busy during the last 12 months. The 75-year-old musician, who was diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma more than a decade ago, stated in part in the three-minute clip (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): ”Hello all, I hope you’ve had a great Christmas. We certainly have here. It’s been good fun. Plenty of food and drink. Marvelous, absolutely marvelous.
“Anyway, last year when I did my [year-end video] message, I did say we’d have a box set [of the Tony Martin-era BLACK SABBATH albums] coming out. Well, now I’ve been informed that it’ll be out in May. It’s been held up with paperwork and legal stuff. But anyway, it’s coming out in May now, if you’re interested, and I hope you are.
“But it’s been an interesting year again this year. It’s great, great fun. A lot of different things happening. I was working with the Birmingham Royal Ballet with Carlos Acosta on doing the Black Sabbath Ballet, which was absolutely marvelous. I mean, they’ve done such a brilliant job. And the dancers are fantastic. Just all the people involved in it were just so into it, and it was great fun. And I was making an appearance on the end of some of the shows — not all of them; just some of them. But as soon as they put it on sale, the tickets sold out like that, which was fantastic. We had a lot of SABBATH fans come in who really enjoyed it. So, hopefully next year, or this year, of course, by the time you get this message, they’re talking of taking it to America and Europe. So hopefully that’ll happen, and everybody can get to see it. But it’s well worth watching. Fantastic.
“And also, I did a documentary for Sky, which was also very interesting. I’d done it at home and done some away. But it was good fun and I had Brian May come up and we worked together and played together and that was great. And if you can’t get that on Sky, you can get it on YouTube, so it is on YouTube all around the world. Also, what else have I done? Well, I’ve been working in the studio, of course, and doing things that everybody else do, really. And I did a show with Johnny Depp and the HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES — Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and the rest of the gang. Good fun. Really great. Something different for me. So, that was that, really. Hopefully there’ll be more going on in the next year. But also I did a thing with Cesar [Gueikian] from Gibson and Serj from SYSTEM OF THE DOWN. I did a track with them. And that was to raise money for Armenia, which was good. So that’s out as well.
“So, we’ll see what happens now in the next year and I’ll inform you as we go on. But, yeah, I am writing and doing plenty of stuff and it’s sounding really good. I’m very happy with it. I might use some orchestration, I might not. So we’ll see how it goes.
“Anyway, have a great new year and all the best to you all.Thank you. Bye bye.”
In the summer of 2022, Martin told “The Rock And Metal Profs: The History And Philosophy Of Rock And Metal” podcast that “two record labels” were going to re-release the albums he recorded with SABBATH. “I don’t know when, and I don’t know what it’s gonna look like,” he said. “There was some suggestion a while back that we might be able to put extra tracks and stuff on it. I did offer, and I went to see Tony Iommi and offered some things. And then he said we can’t use anything new ’cause nothing new can be released under the BLACK SABBATH name. It can only be stuff that’s got the original four members on it.
“I’m expecting it to be a remixed version of whatever the original was; that’s what I’m expecting,” Tony added. “So I await as you do to find out. Let me know if you hear it first.”
When the interviewer expressed hope that the box set will include some live recordings from the Martin era of SABBATH, either in audio or video format, Tony said: “I recorded the writing session with… Eddie Van Halen came over and helped us write one of the tracks [for 1994’s ‘Cross Purposes’ album]. And I had an eight-track recorder at the time in the 1980s, and I used to take it everywhere, this thing. I’ve got all of the writing sessions and rehearsals recorded. So I sent [Iommi] this, and he went, ‘Wow! That’s fucking great.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re welcome to use it, if you wanna put that on.’ So, I don’t know… Maybe you’ll get that on there.”
Martin added: “It’s great to hear Eddie play.”
BLACK SABBATH released six albums with Martin on vocals: “The Eternal Idol” (1987),“Headless Cross” (1989),“Tyr” (1990),“Cross Purposes” (1994),“Cross Purposes Live” (1995) and “Forbidden” (1995). Eventually, Martin and his “Forbidden”-era bandmates were ousted when Iommi reunited with SABBATH‘s fellow original members.
In January 2022, Martin reflected on his time with SABBATH during an appearance on “The Ron Keel Podcast”, saying: “It doesn’t haunt me. It’s not a bad thing. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. SABBATH is the reason why you, and the world, knows about my voice. So there are things to be grateful for. It was hard work for me. I’m 12 years younger than the rest of the guys, so even just circle of friends was different — they’re hanging out with Ian Gillan and Brian May, and my best friend is Dave down the road. So that was a gap. And also the experience — they were way ahead of me in experience, at least 12 years further up the road from me, and I never could quite catch them up; they will always have that much more experience than me. So that was hard work.”
He continued: “When I first got the gig, it was actually 1986 that I was put on standby when they were with Glenn Hughes on the ‘Seventh Star’ album. And I don’t know what the issues were, but something went wrong with Glenn and they put me on standby. That scared me to death, ’cause it’s Glenn Hughes. I can’t sing like Glenn Hughes; nobody can sing like Glenn Hughes. Only Glenn Hughes can sing like Glenn Hughes. So that was really scary. Then they got Ray Gillen in. Then he left — he left to join BLUE MURDER with John Sykes, so they called me again and said, ‘You’d better come down to the studio and try this out.’ And they gave me one song, which was ‘The Shining’ off ‘Eternal Idol’, and then two days later said, ‘Okay. You’ve got the job. You’ve got a week to finish the album.’ So right from the start it was scary — it was huge; suddenly being the frontman of BLACK SABBATH was just ridiculous. And yeah, the whole association with me and my voice lasted 11 years.”
Seven years ago, Iommi told I Heart Guitar that “it’s a shame” that “it took a lot for people to accept” Martin as SABBATH‘s vocalist. “It’s taken all these years later for people to say, ‘Oh blimey, that was a good band with good singing.’ So it took a long time to get people to really realize how good it was.”
In 2018, Iommi spent time in the studio remixing “Forbidden” for a future release. The LP, which features Martin, drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Neil Murray, is often regarded as SABBATH‘s worst studio recording.
In a 2012 interview with Über Röck, Martin said that he was “surprised” to see Iommi criticizing him in the guitarist’s “Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven And Hell With Black Sabbath” book (referring to the Martin period, especially the touring phase following the release of “Cross Purposes” in 1994, Iommi lambasted his former singer as “unprofessional” and having “no stage presence”). Martin said: “I mean, they never said anything to me. Surely, if you’ve got a problem, the first person you should say something to is the person that’s in the band with you… It sounds like a really stupid thing to say, as they didn’t say anything to my face — and, if that’s the case, then more fool them for not saying anything, because, you know, we could have fixed it. I said to them, endlessly, that if there was anything they wanted changed, done differently, just to say and we could fix it, but clearly, they didn’t, they hadn’t got the guts to, obviously, and to write about it in a book afterwards seems a bit daft to me. I’m not bitter about it, but it is surprising… It seems a bit stupid to say that after the event.”
A 2024 New Year’s Message
Posted by Tony Iommi on Friday, December 29, 2023
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