Why Tony Iommi Was Ashamed Of Playing With Ian Anderson And Jethro Tull

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Tony Iommi co-founded the world-renowned heavy metal band Black Sabbath and contributed to it as the guitarist and composer throughout his long-time career. During the band’s pre-Black Sabbath years, Iommi contributed significantly to their sound, although he had lost two of his fingertips in a factory accident while working. By developing a new playing style, the guitarist created an innovative technique that became one of the foundation stones of heavy metal music.

During the time he was developing a unique style, Iommi temporarily departed from his band to join the progressive rock band Jethro Tull in 1968. The guitarist Mick Abrahams had left earlier that year due to ongoing disputes between him and Ian Anderson regarding their musical direction.

Although the band tried several names, they could not create the sound they wanted. When they needed a guitarist for the The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus concert, Iommi accepted to partake. However, according to Jethro Tull, the show turned into a memory the rocker was ashamed of.

Tony Iommi’s Performance With Ian Anderson And Jethro Tull

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On December 11 and 12, 1968, the Rolling Stones arranged a concert with names like Jethro Tull, the Who, Taj Mahal, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono with the supergroup. The artists impressed the audience with their dazzling performances for two days. Tony Iommi took the stage during this show, filling in for Jethro Tull’s guitarist, and the recording of the event also became the band’s first live footage.

The Black Sabbath icon mimed the album version of ‘A Song for Jeffrey,’ originally played by Mick Abrahams. However, according to the Jethro Tull members, this was not an experience Iommi was thrilled with. In an interview with Examiner, the vocalist Ian Anderson revealed that it was a challenging show for Iommi as Jethro Tull embraced a different style than his band.

He stated that Iommi had to mime the previous member Abrahams’ sliding guitar parts as he was not used to this style. Anderson laughingly added that the guitarist was so ashamed that he tried to hide behind his hat so as not to be seen throughout the performance.

Ian Anderson said the following about Tony Iommi’s participation in the concert:

“I actually think Tony was quite embarrassed because he really was not familiar with our music and had to pretend he was playing slide guitar. He had his hat pulled down over his face so no one could see him.”

As Ian Anderson shared in a more recent conversation, they were thrilled when Tony Iommi accepted their offer, as he responded to their urgency to fill the space. He mentioned that they had even discussed the possibility of Iommi joining the band permanently. However, they had reached a common point, agreeing he would not be the right fit for their musical direction.