Tony Iommi Opens Up on Black Sabbath's Dio Years

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 18: Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath perform on stage on the 'Heaven and Hell' tour, at Hammersmith Odeon on January 18th, 1981 in London, England. (Photo by Pete Still/Redferns)

Tony Iommi is a talkative mood these days. With Black Sabbath set to revisit the band's Dio's years with deluxe reissues of the albums Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, the left-handed guitar legend had a few things to say about those heavy metal times.

"I think 'Heaven And Hell,' because that was on our initial album, and that track has stood the test of time," Iommni told Songfacts about the title track from the 1980 LP when asked about the definitive song from the era. "Even Ronnie, when he went out on his solo thing, he'd always play 'Heaven And Hell.' It became a very popular song."

The guitarist made a point of talking about deep cuts found on the set, including the tune, "Lonely is the Word": "I just ended up playing this riff and Ronnie started singing this melody. I thought, 'This is great,'" Iommi recalled. "And as soon as he'd sing a melody, you'd know where to go next. And it was the same with Oz, really - when he'd sing a melody, you could see where to go next on the song, and that's how we worked them. I enjoyed that guitar solo because it was a different mood and was more bluesy, which is my background, really."

While Iommi enjoyed working with Dio, he didn't always understand his lyrical choices: "Well, 'Country Girl' was one that did cause a bit of a problem. We started playing the riff and wrote the whole thing, and then Ronnie sang this melody about a country girl. I thought, 'that's a weird thing to sing about.' Geezer [Butler] and I didn't agree with it, and Ronnie went, 'What's wrong with it?' It sounded a bit odd, really, him singing about a country girl! But again, we got to like it. The initial song riff came up and then Ronnie had put the melody line to it."

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