Ian Gillian Didn't Remember Joining Black Sabbath Until His Manager Called
By Andrew Magnotta
November 21, 2018
While he's probably done worse with a few beers in his system, Gillian recalled his surprise when his manager called him a day after he'd gone out drinking with Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler and informed him that he had committed to succeeding Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath.
"I went for a drink with Tony and Geezer, and we ended up under the table," Gillian told Eddie Trunk in a recent interview from Deep Purple's Long Goodbye Tour. "I got a call from my manager the next day saying, 'Don't you think you should call me if you're gonna make decisions like this?' I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said ... 'You agreed to join Sabbath.' So that's how it happened. I was at a kind of loose end anyway."
Gillian had just put to rest his Ian Gillian Band, some 10 years after leaving Deep Purple. And Black Sabbath was without a front man after Dio left to pursue his eponymous band.
With Sabbath, Gillian recalled a "one-year plan" to record a new album, 1983's Born Again, and go on tour. Making the album was a unique experience, Gillian says, because he didn't work all that closely with Iommi, Butler and Bill Ward. Instead, he says he crafted his vocal parts around music that had been recorded without him.
"They were night people, so they slept all day and worked all night," Gillian said, unwittingly evoking a Dio song title from 1987. "I got up in the morning, cooked my breakfast, went to the studio to hear what they had recorded the night before and write a song over it. And that's how the album was made."
Despite the Born Again being one of Sabbath's least popular albums — and despite his own complaints over the mix being too bass-heavy — Gillian has few regrets, and the experience only deepened his respect for Sabbath.
"Tony is such a great writer," Gillian said. "You know what to expect with Tony. There's no multidirectional approach. He is the father of everything that came out of Seattle [in the '90s], I believe. He's just very direct, and that's how he evolved from the early days. I found it very easy to sing and writer songs with him."
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