Sunday With Tony Iommi

The black town car carrying Heaven & Hell/Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and his manager Ralph Baker arrived at the GP offices precisely on time.
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THE BLACK TOWN CAR CARRYING HEAVEN & HELL/BLACK SABBATH GUITARIST TONY IOMMI and his manager Ralph Baker arrived at the GP offices precisely on time.

They’d come directly from SFO after flying in from Seattle, where Heaven & Hell had kicked off their 2009 U.S. tour the previous evening. (The band also includes bassist Geezer Butler, vocalist Ronnie James Dio, and drummer Vinnie Appice.)

The first order of business was the photo shoot with art director Paul Haggard. His Heaviness was clad in black, naturally, and sported his black Gibson Tony Iommi Signature SG. Paul got lots of great photos, one of which will grace the cover of our special “13th Issue” (no joke).

Next came the interview, during which we discussed Heaven & Hell’s new album The Devil You Know, Django Reinhardt, what it means to be “heavy,” lowered tunings, recording the early Sabbath albums, what makes a great pickup, Tychobrahe Parapedals, the importance of vibrato, the modified Dallas Arbiter Rangemaster that defined Sabbath’s ’70s sound, the possibility of a pure blues Iommi album, and, of course, whether he and Geezer are really down with the devil (the answer may surprise you).

Iommi was unassuming and entirely forthcoming, and his friendly demeanor, self-deprecating humor, and obvious sincerity all made for an enjoyable and informative dialogue. Based on our brief meeting, if Tony Iommi truly did sell his soul to the devil, I’d say he got the better end of the bargain.

(Photo Paul Haggard)