Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi talked about his relationship with the press throughout the years, remembering how he once beat up a journalist from Melody Maker. You can check out the conversation with Chris Phipps below (transcribed by UG).
When did the term ‘heavy metal’ become associated with Black Sabbath?
“A lot further down the line. Because we always classed ourselves as heavy rock. And somebody mentioned… I was doing an interview, and they said, ‘You’re playing heavy metal.’ ‘Heavy metal? What’s that?’ And they said, ‘That’s what you play.’
“We’d never admit to being heavy metal, we were always heavy rock. And at the end, we gave in. Because, you know, everybody called it heavy metal. So alright, we’re heavy metal.”
Is it true that heavy metal was hated by the press?
“Here [in the UK] it was. I’ll never forget – we played a gig in London. [A journalist] came to review the show. He’d done us a terrible review, but the thing was – we canceled the gig. We didn’t play. He reviewed the show that we never played. So he didn’t like us. [Laughs]”
Did you ever meet him?
“Yes, I met him, yeah.”
I’m sure he was very pleased to see you. But what about America? What about the criticism in America?
“America was a lot more open for it, absolutely. I think it was probably the Rolling Stone that didn’t like us at first. But they all came around in the end. We didn’t take it to heart anyway. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it. What can you do? If they like it and write about it, it’s great. It’s when they personally have a dig…
“I had a problem with a guy from the Melody Maker many years ago. He came to my house to do an interview. I picked him up at the station – and I picked him up in a Lamborghini – and he came back to the house. And he was treated well.
“Anyway, then he left, after the interview. And the interview was awful. He slagged us, terrible. And it was a personal thing. It wasn’t the music, it was just really not nice. And I saw him again at a gig. And basically, I beat him up.
“And then, of course, nobody would interview us. [Laughs] I remember we were in America… Of course, it got to America about what happened. And we’re doing all these interviews on the phone.
“And I’m going, ‘What’s happened? They don’t really like face-to-face interviews?’ And they’re going ‘Well, they heard about the journalist in England.'”
Did it hurt, the fact that…?
“Yeah, it did. [Audience laughs] It did hurt for him.”