Tony Iommi Going Back to Sabbath’s Roots With Sax Collab for Sports Ceremony
Black Sabbath icon Tony Iommi's next collaboration is with a jazz saxophone player, the fellow British musician Soweto Kinch.
Interestingly enough, it brings the heavy metal guitarist full circle. Black Sabbath's very early lineup, even before they had that name, included a saxophonist.
On July 28, Iommi and Kinch will team up to lead a "dream sequence" musical piece to open the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, the event says on its official website.
The English pop-rockers Duran Duran will headline the opening ceremony at the XXII Commonwealth Games, otherwise known as Birmingham 2022. The games continue through Aug. 8.
"Birmingham's multi-Grammy winning Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and acclaimed saxophonist Soweto Kinch will lead a dream sequence, 'Hear My Voice,' based on the title track from 2020 film Trial of the Chicago Seven," a press release explains.
Sabbath's 1960s proto-lineup — prior to them adopting the famous moniker — included a sax player and a slide guitarist, as Iommi recalled on the podcast Backstaged last year.
Indeed, back when he, singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward first came together in 1968 as the Polka Tulk Blues Band, the group featured saxophonist Alan "Aker" Clarke and slide guitar player Jimmy Phillips.
According to Iommi, when the act ultimately chose to strip down to the core four, a faux breakup was required. "It didn't seem to be going anywhere at first," the guitarist recalls. (Hear it around the 19:30 mark in the player below.) "We had a sax player and another guitar player, a slide guitar player. And it was a horrendous row, to be honest."
The band "carried on with it" for a while, he adds, "and then we decided we didn't need a sax player and a slide player. So the only way we felt comfortable about sort of removing them was to say we're gonna break up, we're not gonna carry on. So that's what we did, and then we broke up for a week or whatever, and then we got back together just the four of us. … It was just a playground when it was the six of us — everybody was trying to do a solo at the same time."
Sabbath's interest with the saxophone would again rear its head on their 1978 studio effort, Never Say Die!, the closing chapter on the act's first Osbourne era. A brassy saxophone solo brightens up the album's instrumental deep cut, "Breakout."