Tony Iommi Talks About Black Sabbath’s Most Appreciated Album And Reveals The Secret Behind Its Success

During a recent interview with Goldmine Magazine, Black Sabbath’s lead guitarist Tony Iommi recalled the early ’80s when the band decided to part ways with Ozzy Osbourne and hired Ronnie James Dio, and revealed the secret hero who helped the band’s iconic record Heaven and Hell reach such great success.

As you probably know, following Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die album, the band toured with Van Halen. After the tour, the band members met up in the studio to record Heaven and Hell but the increasing tensions made it impossible. The tensions had started affecting the band’s success in the ’70s and the arguments over the band’s two experimental albums (which Ozzy didn’t approve of), made it impossible for the members to collaborate.

Eventually, Ozzy Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 after which Black Sabbath hired Ronnie James Dio, and in April 1980, they released their first album together, Heaven and Hell. The album achieved great commercial success and ranked No. 28 on the Billboard 200 chart while being certified platinum for achieving 1 million sales.

In his recent interview, Iommi talked about the record’s success and said that aside from his bandmates who gave everything they had, their producer should also get credit for it. Alongside Ronnie, Black Sabbath was also introduced to Martin Birch who’s a successful producer that has worked with Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden, and many more.

Iommi said that he was a great producer as in comparison to the ones they worked with before, he would actually try to understand the band’s logic about recording. For instance, there would be times that Martin would say that Geezer’s bass sound should be regular.

Then, Tony would explain why Geezer’s sound is supposed to be raunchier. In contrast to their previous producers, he would go ‘it really does work‘ and this level of communication really helped Black Sabbath create such a great record.

Here’s what Tony Iommi said in the interview:

“Martin Birch was somebody to come in and take the reins, really. But we worked together because there are certain ways of recording Sabbath that Martin really didn’t know, particularly with Geezer’s bass sound. Martin was a great engineer/producer and I said to Martin – because he would go for a regular bass sound – ‘Well, no, Sabbath is not a regular bass sound. Geezer’s sound is raunchier.’ Because over the years you always get those engineers that we’ve worked with that have gone, ‘Oh, the guitar is a bit distorted’ or ‘The bass is distorted.’

I’d always have to say, ‘I know, but that’s part of the sound. You don’t listen to them individually. You listen to them as a band altogether and it blends in, and that’s part of our sound.’ And it was much the same with Martin, and then he said, ‘Oh, yeah, it really does work.'”

Click here for the source and you can listen to the remastered version of Heaven and Hell through Spotify below.