During a recent interview with Songfacts, Black Sabbath’s lead guitarist Tony Iommi remembered the days back in the early ’80s, after Ozzy Osbourne’s departure from the band, when he didn’t feel like playing any old Black Sabbath stuff and even suggested that they should change the name of the band.
As you may recall, just some days ago, Tony Iommi had made it to our headlines with his side of the story about Ozzy Osbourne being fired from Black Sabbath in 1979. After the band released their successful album ‘Never Say Die’ and concluded their tour with Van Halen, they went back to the studio to record ‘Heaven and Hell‘ but the increasing tensions made it impossible.
These tensions had already started affecting the band’s success in the ’70s and the arguments considering the two experimental albums that they had released, which were not appreciated by Osbourne who preferred the band’s earlier heavier sound, made it impossible for the band members to work together. Upon Osbourne’s departure from the band, 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 it ranked No. 28 on the Billboard 200 chart while being certified platinum for achieving 1 million sales. In an interview, Dio had stated that the band was going through a rough patch, and after his inclusion, the band members pulled themselves back together, formed a great relationship with each other, and started working hard to come back stronger.
In his recent interview, Tony Iommi was asked about the ‘definitive Sabbath song from the Dio era’ to which Iommi responded with the band’s great hit ‘Heaven and Hell.’ He said that it was the track that put them back on the map and that even Ronnie James Dio, who left the band in 1982 to start his own band, kept playing ‘Heaven and Hell’ because it had become a very popular song.
Tony Iommi went on to talk about the time when Ronnie rejoined the band in 2006 and how ‘Heaven and Hell’ ended up being re-used as an album title. Iommi said that he was the one who suggested to his band members not to play any old Black Sabbath songs after that and change their band name to ‘Heaven and Hell’ as he ‘didn‘t feel it was right to go as Black Sabbath.’
Here’s what the interviewer asked:
“What’s the definitive Sabbath song from the Dio era?”
To which Tony Iommi responded:
“I think ‘Heaven And Hell,’ because that was on our initial album, and that track has stood the test of time. Even Ronnie, when he went out on his solo thing, he’d always play ‘Heaven And Hell.’ It became a very popular song.”
The interviewer chimed in and added:
“And then obviously, the song and album title would be re-used as the band’s name when Ronnie rejoined in 2006.”
And Tony Iommi said:
“That’s right. I didn’t feel it was right to go as ‘Black Sabbath.’ I suggested to the others that we don’t play any of the old Sabbath stuff. We had enough material to go out as ‘Heaven And Hell’ and do all the stuff we’d done with Ronnie, which is what we did, and it worked really well.”
Click here for the source and you can listen to the live performance of ‘Heaven and Hell’ below.