Connect with us

Ian Anderson’s opinion on Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi


Ian Anderson’s opinion on Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi

The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian Anderson helped to form Jethro Tull in London, England back in 1967. Before reuniting the band’s classic line-up, many other musicians were part of the group and some of them only for a short period of time.


One of them is the Black Sabbath co-founder and guitarist Tony Iommi, who was a member of the band for only about a month in 1968. At the time Sabbath was still named Earth and the invitation came after the group was Tull’s opening act in London. He curiously appeared with the Progressive Rock group on the famous Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus during that same year.

But what is the opinion of Ian Anderson on the Heavy Metal band which Tony Iommi helped to create after he left the group?

What is Ian Anderson’s opinion on Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi

Tony Iommi decided to leave Jethro Tull because he felt he felt more connected to the music that Earth, which would soon be renamed Black Sabbath, was making at the time. It was after his departure that Tull hired Martin Barre, who would become an important member of the band, being part of the line-up for decades and playing on all their classic albums.

As every Rock and Roll fan, Anderson obviously watched Black Sabbath not only become one of the most important bands of all time but also create a whole new musical genre. The Jethro Tull frontman has a really broad musical taste and also likes Heavy Metal music. Talking with Goldmine in 2010, he recalled that Sabbath played with Tull in the USA, saying that Iommi was really an important part of the band.

“They actually played with us in America. I don’t think they did very much because the guy, Ozzy Osbourne. (He) inclined sometimes not to manage doing the show (laughs). (…) Anyway, I guess in the early days Ozzy was the kind of — I don’t know — probably not as important a figure as the musical substance in particular that came from Tony.”

He continued:

“It more or less evolved, this style of playing these monophonic riffs. There was no rhythmic part. It was just doom-laden, monophonic unison riffs with the bass. Although people like Cream had made a living out of doing bluesy based riffs,” Ian Anderson said.

During the same conversation Anderson said that he doesn’t think that Sabbath was influenced so much by the Blues like Cream was. It was really Metal before people even knew what that kind of music really was called. “It was more of a kind of statement out there in the gothic land of metal. Before anybody really knew what the term meant. Not that I’m sure what they mean now. I think Tony was very much a key man,” Ian Anderson said.

Ian Anderson believes that Iommi’s adversity was one of the key elements for Sabbath’s sound

During his last day of work in a factory in Birmingham, England, Tony Iommi lost the tip of two fingers. The accident made him think he would never be able to play the guitar again. He had hope again after being gifted by his old boss with an album by Django Reinhardt, who created amazing songs without even using all his fingers to play. Iommi adapted plastic pieces to put in the tip of the damaged fingers and changed the tune of the guitar to make the strings softer to play. So that was when one of the key elements to Sabbath’s sound started.

Talking with Let It Rock in 2006, Anderson said that the adversity Iommi faced made him to develop something unique. “His skills and the talents that were, I suppose, inherent in him allowed Tony to develop a physical dexterity to good effect with Black Sabbath. (They) more or less invented an idea of riff-oriented heavy metal,” Ian Anderson said.

Anderson also said it was a logical step that Sabbath took after groups like Cream, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. “(Sabbath played) these legendary guitar riffs in their songs. But Black Sabbath did it the most with riffs and the two or three note-opened chords that Tony can play with two damaged fingers on one hand. Django Reinhardt also developed his own style because he had, I guess, two working fingers on one hand.”

Ian Anderson continued:

“You see sometimes this kind of adversity allows you to develop something that is your own unique style. You can excel in a way that other people might just give up. And Tony managed to turn his physical impairment around into something that makes him one of the guitar legends. If not for his dexterity of playing but at least for the fact that his contribution to rock music is a unique one,” Ian Anderson said.

Being on Jethro Tull helped Iommi to make Sabbath better

As Tony Iommi recalled in a TV interview back in the 90s, he learned a lot working with Jethro Tull. The musician said that the main thing he learned was that the group should start rehearsing early in the morning. So that’s what really made Sabbath get better in the early days. “We’ve done a few gigs (as Earth) and we did a gig with Jethro Tull. It was the night Mick Abrahams was leaving and they asked me if I’d join them. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked all the others (Ozzy, Geezer and Bill). They said ‘You should have a go’.”

“(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) So I went down and auditioned with them, with these other 200 guitar players. (I thought) ‘No way I’m gonna sit around here waiting for my go. They will say ‘No’ at the end of it’. Anyway, I got the job and then that for me was real strict work. Because it was like nine o’clock in the morning rehearsals on the dot working through until it’s finished. I had never experienced that. Bloody hell, nine 0’clock in the morning. (I was) getting up at 8 o’clock to get there.”

He continued:

“But it really done me a lot of good. I actually stayed a month with them and it wasn’t for me. But it was great because when I came back we got the band back together again and then we changed our name to Sabbath. It was good because it gave me the insight to see that that’s what we should be doing. We’ve got to start early in the morning to rehearse. The material started changing from them on when we started playing. We came up with this sort of music that none of us can really explain what it was. We just like it,” Tony Iommi said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

To Top