In a brand new interview with Liz Barnes of Planet Rock‘s “My Planet Rocks”, legendary guitarist Tony Iommi was asked if “that’s really it” for BLACK SABBATH. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “You can never say never, can you? We’ve known in this band you can never say, ‘That’s never gonna happen again,’ because every time we said that, it has. We never thought we’d get back with Ozzy [Osbourne after] the early years. We never thought we’d get back with [Ronnie James] Dio again; we did. We never thought we’d have Ian Gillan in the band, but we did. So you just can’t say it’s never gonna happen.”
Iommi also talked about SABBATH‘s final tour, “The End”, which concluded in February 2017 in Birmingham, closing out the quartet’s groundbreaking 49-year career. “The End” was SABBATH‘s last tour because Iommi can no longer travel for extended amounts of time.
“It was emotional, the last year, because we’d done it so long together, and it just felt pretty weird, really,” he said. It was basically my fault to end it because of the touring.
“The problem is in a band of this size, you can’t just go and go a week of gigs; you’ve gotta do a world tour of 18 months,” he explained. “And when you do that, you have to take that on. When you first mention it, about going out on tour, ‘Yeah. Brilliant. 18-month tour. Fantastic.’ But when you get into a year of it, you get tired. But you have to take it on that long ’cause you’ve got all the crew to keep alive. Everybody’s got a job, so you can’t do one week and then have a month off and do another week, ’cause you won’t get the crew; they wanna have a job. So we’ve done it for that long — we’ve done a world tour and a world tour again. And then it was getting sort of tiring. Even though we had our own plane and we [stayed] in the best hotels — everything was perfect — but you still get tired. We’d have a base in New York when we play in that area, so we’d have the plane there fly in. So you get in at three o’clock in the morning and then try to get to bed and sleep. So it was a regular thing like this. We tried to make it as comfortable as possible. It couldn’t get any easier or [more] comfortable, but it still was tiring. And the late nights and stuff. So, when I was talking to my doctors, they said, ‘You shouldn’t really be doing it to that extent, flying,’ ’cause I’ve got blood cancer. It wasn’t good for me to be doing that much flying. I talked to the guys and I said, ‘It’s probably the time to call it a day now, sort of thing, for now’ of that extensive touring. So that’s really what we did. But the stipulation was we had to end up in Birmingham ’cause that’s where we started.”
According to Iommi, SABBATH has never ruled out performing again. “We haven’t stopped it,” he said. “It’s just the major touring that has come to a stop; I wouldn’t wanna do 18-month tours again. But that doesn’t say we wouldn’t do any one-off stuff.”
Iommi revealed his cancer diagnosis in early 2012, shortly after SABBATH announced a reunion tour and album. He underwent treatment throughout the recording of the disc, titled “13”, and the subsequent tour to promote it.
Iommi said in 2016 interview that “the lowest moment” for him was being diagnosed. He explained: “You automatically wind yourself up saying, ‘That’s it then,’ but that is not always the case. When they tell you, you think, ‘Oh God.’ That was a low time. I have had a few low times in my life like everybody has, but that was one that stuck in the head.”
Osbourne told The Pulse Of Radio in 2014 that Iommi never let his condition slow him down. “My hat goes off to him ’cause he really is Iron Man,” he said. “I mean, that chemotherapy knocks you sideways, you know. I mean, when my wife had cancer a few years back, she was having three chemo things a month and it would knock the life out of — literally every time she’d have a treatment, she’d have a seizure. It’s scary stuff. But he came down, plugged in and carried on. He’s my hero, I swear to God he is.”
The BLACK SABBATH guitarist successfully underwent an operation in January 2017 to remove a noncancerous lump from his throat.
“13” was the first album in 35 years to feature Osbourne, Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler all playing together.
Drummer Bill Ward was on board for the SABBATH reunion when it was first announced 10 years ago, but backed out soon after. The drummer later claimed that he sat out the recording and touring sessions because of unfair contractual terms, although the members of SABBATH have hinted in other interviews that he wasn’t physically up to the task.