Tony Iommi Recalls Hiring Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan For Black Sabbath


Black Sabbath legend Tony Iommi was interviewed by Eddie Trunk and remembered the time when the band hired Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan as their new frontman after an interesting night. Iommi revealed that why Gillan didn’t know how he accepted the band members’ offer that night.

Black Sabbath’s original frontman was Ozzy Osbourne, however, in 1979 his bandmates decided to fire him due to his excessive alcohol and drug addiction after he had personal problems with Iommi during some of their recording sessions. However, Osbourne defended himself saying that he wasn’t worse than the others. Black Sabbath hired Rainbow’s Ronnie James Dio as their new frontman in the same year but he couldn’t stay for a long time.

Dio wanted to leave the band to pursue his own career by founding a new band in 1982 so Black Sabbath members had to look for a new lead singer. They argued about different singers such as Whitesnake’s David Coverdale, Michael Bolton, Samson’s Nicky Moore, Lone Star’s John Sloman, and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan. Finally, they agreed to recruit Gillan as Black Sabbath’s new lead vocalist but the singer himself doesn’t remember how he accepted their offer.

Iommi clarified the situation and stated that they met in a pub and got drunk after Gillan turned from Kuala Lumpur. Apparently, the singer was so drunk that he forgot that he decided to join Black Sabbath during their small drinking party. He realized what actually happened when his manager wanted to know why he made such an important decision about his career without even telling him. The guitarist emphasized that it was just one of their crazy and funny moments.

Iommi remembered those times saying:

“Oh man, I’ll tell you what, he’d just come in from Kuala Lumpur, believe it or not, he traveled in from Kuala Lumpur, and we met him in Woodstock in Oxfordshire at a pub, which probably wasn’t a good move. He turned up about 11 o’clock in the morning, Geezer and I were there, and he said ‘I’ve just come from Kuala Lumpur.’ We must’ve had a drink, and another drink, and another drink.

Anyway, the pub was closing, and they just locked us in and left us there, and god, the state of us at the end of the day, and he don’t even remember, and of course, his manager said, ‘Ian, if you’re going to make any important decisions, can you let me know?’ Ian went ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Agreeing to join Black Sabbath…’ It was really funny, actually. We got endless stories with him, we’ve had some bloody fun on that tour.”

Two years after, Ian Gillan left Black Sabbath because he decided to reunite with Deep Purple which was started to be reformed after a long time hiatus in 1984. Thus, the band went through several lineup changes while trying to find their next frontman but continued to preserve their commercial success and popularity.