TONY MARTIN Confirms He Sang On Demos For BLACK SABBATH's 'Dehumanizer' Album
January 2, 2022
Tony Martin, who fronted BLACK SABBATH from 1987 to 1991 and then again from 1993 to 1997, confirmed to Almost Human in a new interview that he recorded some demos for the band's "Dehumanizer" album during a period when Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were having a hard time getting along with a returning Ronnie James Dio. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "They fired me [prior to the start of the 'Dehumanizer' sessions], which, by the way, was a complete surprise. I didn't see that coming at all. In fact, I was walking out of the door to go to rehearsals for the next album, and the phone rang just as I was leaving the door. And my manager [was on the other end of the line], and he said, 'You'd better sit down, kid.' I [was, like], 'Go on. What?' And he said, 'They don't want your services anymore.' [I said], 'What? You're kidding me.' I just didn't see that coming at all. So, wow, okay. I was just so shocked by that, I didn't know what to say, do or anything.' But within weeks I was back — it was four, five, six weeks maybe, something like that. I got a call from Tony Iommi saying, 'This isn't going very well [with] Dio.' I said, 'Oh, really?' And he said, 'No. Can you come back?' And I said, 'No. I can't come back. I've already started doing my solo stuff and I've moved on.' [And he said], 'Okay. Okay.' So then a few months went by, and he called me again. And he said, 'Are you sure you can't come back? It's really not working.' So they invited me to go to the studio when they were recording the stuff, so I went down there. And I did try to get some melodies and stuff, but they were short of time, as usual. And I said, 'Look, if I'm gonna do this, I need to rewrite this whole thing. I need to take it away and sit with it and work it out.' They said, 'We don't have the time for that.' [So I said], 'I'm gonna have to leave it with you. Probably the best thing to do is just continue with Dio, and then we'll talk afterwards.' So even through the Dio period, there was connections, and I was still talking to Tony. In fact, I went to the show [they played] in my hometown with Dio. Actually, Dio wasn't pleased at all to see me there. 'Cause, obviously, Tony Iommi had invited me. And, of course, Dio comes offstage and I'm still backstage. He was not impressed with that at all. So there was a connection going through the 'Dehumanizer' thing pretty much most of the way through — not in a constant way, but on and off."
Asked if he did any studio recordings for "Dehumanizer", Martin said: "Yeah, I did try. I just couldn't get anything that was gonna sound better than what they'd done [with Dio]. And I have to make it sound like Tony Martin. There's no point in asking me to do it if you don't want me to sound like me. So at that point I was kind of thinking, 'I don't really wanna just keep copying people's stuff.' I did try and I did put some demos down. But I doubt very much — in fact, I'm 99 percent certain there's nothing left of [those recordings]. I've got a couple of brief cassette copies of something I tried, but it's really horrible quality — just a cassette thing. It just reminds me of the day. Yeah, I did give it a go. But I don't think I could better, really, what they'd done. So we sort of moved on, really."
BLACK SABBATH released six albums with Martin on vocals: "The Eternal Idol" (1987),"Headless Cross" (1989),"Tyr" (1990),"Cross Purposes" (1994),"Cross Purposes Live" (1995) and "Forbidden" (1995). Eventually, Martin and his "Forbidden"-era bandmates were ousted when guitarist Tony Iommi reunited with SABBATH's fellow original members.
In a 1992 interview with Guitar World magazine, Iommi stated about the "Dehumanizer" period: "Getting back together with Ronnie James Dio was a little rough in the beginning — there were all kinds of egos bouncing around. We had been separated for 10 years, and it took us a long time to get to know each other again.
"Tony Martin had been our singer for the last three albums, and I must admit, I did feel bad that we had to let him go. But the truth is he wanted to get out. He was getting more into writing for other people instead of performing SABBATH material. He understood the situation with Ronnie, so it really wasn't a problem.
"Before we [Iommi, Dio, Butler and drummer Vinny Appice] started writing 'Dehumanizer', we talked about what we wanted. We decided to make a very heavy BLACK SABBATH record that had a real natural sound and a ton of doomy riffs — nothing too jolly.
"The material is sort of a cross between the old stuff and 'Heaven And Hell'. It has a raunchy sound — something I think had been missing from SABBATH over the last few years. This is very much a classic BLACK SABBATH record. In fact, I didn’t expect it to come out quite this good."
In a 2012 interview with Über Röck, Martin said that he was "surprised" to see Iommi criticizing him in the guitarist's "Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven And Hell With Black Sabbath" book (referring to the Martin period, especially the touring phase following the release of "Cross Purposes" in 1994, Iommi lambasted his former singer as "unprofessional" and having "no stage presence"). Martin said: "I mean, they never said anything to me. Surely, if you've got a problem, the first person you should say something to is the person that's in the band with you... It sounds like a really stupid thing to say, as they didn't say anything to my face — and, if that's the case, then more fool them for not saying anything, because, you know, we could have fixed it. I said to them, endlessly, that if there was anything they wanted changed, done differently, just to say and we could fix it, but clearly, they didn't, they hadn't got the guts to, obviously, and to write about it in a book afterwards seems a bit daft to me. I'm not bitter about it, but it is surprising... It seems a bit stupid to say that after the event."
Six years ago, Iommi told I Heart Guitar that "it's a shame" that "it took a lot for people to accept" Martin as SABBATH's vocalist. "It's taken all these years later for people to say, 'Oh blimey, that was a good band with good singing.' So it took a long time to get people to really realize how good it was."
In 2018, Iommi spent time in the studio remixing "Forbidden" for a future release. The LP, which features Martin, drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Neil Murray, is often regarded as SABBATH's worst studio recording.
Martin's new solo album, "Thorns", will arrive on January 14 via Battlegod Productions and Dark Star Records. Among the guest musicians appearing on the LP are Scott McClellan (who helped write the album),Danny "Danté" Needham (VENOM),Magnus Rosén (HAMMERFALL),Greg Smith (ALICE COOPER, RAINBOW, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT) and Martin's youngest son Joe.