Billy Corgan On What Distinguished Tony Iommi From Other Guitarists
Every musician has some artists whose voices, or, in this case, their guitar playing, they admire. The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan recalled his introduction to Black Sabbath, which got him hooked to their sound. Corgan even shared with Laney that he has been trying to emulate Tony Iommi’s guitar playing since the beginning of his career.
“I’ve chased that sound my whole life,” emphasized Corgan explaining his journey to crafting his sound. “And you can hear echoes of it whether it’s Randy Rhoads with Ozzy or Freddie Mercury with Brian May. There are other echoes of that type of thing. Even Sweet was another band’s guitar voicing and voice in their unique way.”
However, Billy Corgan stressed, “But for me, Sabbath was the blueprint. And until I started using Laney Amps. I bought a vintage amp, which was the same Supergroup series — I never realized that part of what attracted me to that sound was the Laney sound.”
The musician continued to explain further the impact Tony Iommi had on his understanding of the importance of the tone. “Because a lot of guitar players — and I’m sure we’ve all met them — they kind of see guitar sound as a sort of like ‘pick your flavor of a hot sauce’ or something. For me, the tone is everything. When you think of Tony’s tone, it’s synonymous with the vision I get in my head of Tony’s width, size, and power.”
The frontman also reflected on working alongside Iommi on his self-titled solo album released in 2000 and admitted that Iommi changed his perspective toward amp settings. He said, “The Laney sound is not always the ‘biggest’ sound. And even when I worked with Tony in the studio on his solo album, I was shocked Tony’s gain was on 6. It’s the way that Laney’s sound makes you feel. It’s not always a high-gain thing.”
Although Corgan has admired the works of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy, Freddie Mercury, and Brian May, Iommi’s tone has always been more special and unique for the singer. Corgan first experienced Black Sabbath as an 8-year-old with their album ‘Master of Reality,’ and specifically, its opening song ‘Sweet Leaf’ is the guitar and vocal tone he kept on pursuing. It is apparent that Iommi played a massive role in the process of crafting his sound.