Tony Iommi Says Being Called Satanists ‘Helped’ Black Sabbath
Tony Iommi recalled his horror as negative reviews rolled in for Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album in 1970, and said it “helped” the band to be branded Satanists in its early days.
In an interview with Metal Hammer, the guitarist said it had been a difficult experience to lay down their tracks in the studio because they only ever played their songs in a live environment before. Despite that, he said it was “just exciting to be able to do an album.”
That excitement was tempered when critics panned the LP. “It wasn’t nice to read the reviews,” Iommi admitted. “I didn’t mind if a reviewer said, ‘It’s not my cup of tea, but a lot of kids do like it.’ But they said that nobody liked us. That was a little upsetting.”
Around the same time, the Satanism label was attached to the band. “I think in one way it helped us," Iommi recalled. "At one point we weren’t doing any interviews, so nobody knew much about us. I heard stories about people being frightened to meet us. But it created this thing, and people wanted to come and see what we were like. So the image was good and bad, really.”
He added that, even though he and bassist Geezer Butler were interested in the occult, their experience extended to trying a Oiuja board, when they “frightened each other.” “We were young and learning and just trying to experience things,” he said.
In the end, Black Sabbath was a success, paving the way for the band’s future achievements. “The most important thing is we believed in what we did, and that was the way life went for us, right from the beginning,” Iommi said.
“We had to get over a lot of fences, but we just forged ahead. It’s the only way you can do it. You can’t just fall apart because of what other people say. You’ve got to believe in what you do. And we certainly did.”