Tony Iommi is best known as the guitarist of English rock band Black Sabbath, whose greatest hits include “Paranoid”, “Iron Man” and “War Pigs”. Even if you’re not a fan of early “heavy metal”, you’ve probably familiar with at least one of their songs.
But did you know that Iommi had a short stint with the eclectic British rock band Jethro Tull, best known for songs like “Aqualung”, “Heavy Horses” and “Locomotive Breath”?
Leading up to the official formation of Black Sabbath, Iommi played in a myriad of bands through the 60s, one of which was called Earth. Earth was essentially Sabbath before Sabbath, featuring Ozzy Osbourne on vocals, Bill Ward on drums and Geezer Butler on bass.
In September 1968, Iommi briefly left Earth to be a part of Jethro Tull. After just two performances, however, Iommi decided to rejoin Earth. Despite it being a brief stint, Iommi says he learned a great deal from working with Tull vocalist Ian Anderson, who inspired him to work harder at his craft. From then on, Black Sabbath’s practice regime would largely be based on Jethro Tull’s excellent work ethic.
After Iommi rejoined Earth, in August 1969, the band changed their name to Black Sabbath. Apparently, they were confused with another English band called Earth who’d had some success nationally. That forced them to change their name.
Key Lessons From Iommi’s Involvement With Jethro Tull
It might be fun to speculate on what it would have been like had Iommi chosen to stay with Tull and contribute to the band’s extensive discography. The world would be a different place indeed. And, who would have taken Iommi’s place in Sabbath?
Notwithstanding, we think there are some important lessons we can take from Iommi’s example.
Firstly, it’s important to learn from others. Black Sabbath may have never developed the kind of work ethic they needed to reach the heights they did had Iommi not spent some time with Jethro Tull.
Iommi said he didn’t exactly like starting rehearsals at 9 AM but it made a world of difference. He also commented that this changed the way Sabbath made and played music.
Secondly, the formation of Sabbath wasn’t immediate, even though the band members were already in a band together or had previous interactions with each other. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until you experience something else. You may have the perfect lineup for your band already, but you may need to take a different approach (a name change might be in order).
Thirdly, sometimes it’s necessary to find inspiration from different places, especially if your creative juices aren’t flowing.
As a musician, it’s easy to get into a routine. After a while, however, you may find the same old methods don’t work. Song ideas may stop coming to you. You could get yourself stuck in a rut.
Not to worry, however, as listening to different music, reading books, watching movies, getting out into nature and other activities can all provide you with great ideas for your own music. So, don’t forget to live life, too.