Tony Iommi’s Reason for Quitting Jethro Tull
Tony Iommi said he decided to reunite Black Sabbath instead of staying with Jethro Tull in 1968 because he wanted to build a team rather than be part of an established group.
Sabbath were known as Earth until their split, after which Iommi joined Ian Anderson’s band for a brief period. In a new episode of Backstaged: The Devil in Metal, he explained why he soon wanted to reunite with Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, despite their recent disbandment.
“I felt really weird not being with the other guys - I really missed them,” he said. “I felt a bit out of place. … I was joining basically an established band. ... I wanted to be able to earn my own dues, if you like. I didn't want to join a band that was already doing well and I was just going to be the guitar player.
“I didn't want to be the guitar player in Jethro Tull and like a side musician; I wanted to be a part of a team. So I said to Geezer, ‘Let’s get the band back together,’ which is what we did. We called Ozzy and Bill from London, and we said, ‘We’re coming back. If everybody’s really serious about this, I’m willing to leave and we'll get back together again and really work at it.’ … So that's what we did.”
It wasn’t the first time Sabbath split, as Iommi recalled elsewhere in the interview. When they first got together, they found themselves unsure of their direction and realized there were too many members in the lineup. “It was a bit of an odd combination at first, because nobody knew what everybody else could do,” the guitarist said. “It didn't seem to be going anywhere at first. It became a six-piece band, where we had a sax player and another guitar player, [a] slide guitar player.”
Describing the results as “horrendous,” he noted that "we sort of wondered what we were doing, really, and then we decided we didn't need a sax player and a slide player. … We felt comfortable about removing them. We'd say, ‘We're gonna break up, we're not going to carry on,' and we broke up for a week, and then we got back together again, just the four of us.”