Tony Martin recalls how bizarre it was when rapper Ice-T brought in for Black Sabbath’s ‘Forbidden’ album
Former Black Sabbath frontman Tony Martin was recently interviewed by Jimmy Kay and Alan Dixon for Canada’s The Metal Voice. Martin was in Black Sabbath from 1987 to 1991 and again from 1993 to 1997, and he handled the lead vocals on the studio albums The Eternal Idol (1987), Headless Cross (1989), Tyr (1990), Cross Purposes(1994) and Forbidden (1995).
With respect to the decision to bring in rapper Ice-T for Black Sabbath‘s Forbidden album, Martin stated (as provided by The Metal Voice with slight edits): “I didn’t like it. Cozy Powell didn’t like it. Geoff Nichols was really uncertain about it. [Tony] Iommi was into it and his manager was into it but we were totally bemused in the beginning. So imagine somebody coming into the writing studio and trying to tell Cozy Powell how to play drums and Cozy looking at him going, ‘Are you sure about this?’ ‘Yeah it’s gonna be great.’ ‘Well, I don’t see it myself but I’ll give it a try.’ So it was just bizarre, just really bizarre you know and nobody was really getting it. I mean the thing for me was like when they sort of mentioned that Ice-T was coming and I was just lost because they never told me for what. They didn’t know what he was going to do, like a track or two tracks or the whole album but they didn’t say, so I kept trying to find out.
Like I was telling you earlier on, to find out information, ‘I’ll speak to my manager’ and so on. In the end, I just couldn’t concentrate. In the end, I didn’t know if I was singing on the album at all. When I was in the studio, I said ‘Is this actually going out with my voice on it or is he just coming in to replace my vocals and like you know then sing it?’ I was very lost really and so I really don’t like the album because it brings back all of those memories. I never felt happy with it, not ever and yet there were some good songs on there and when we were in rehearsals putting the songs together.”
In terms of having to deal with the band members’ managers, Martin had previously addressed this during the interview when he was asked whether he had any regrets for not speaking out at the time. Martin indicated:
“It comes under the band politics heading. Well, band politics are a really weird thing to begin with. It wasn’t my band Black Sabbath. I was hired to carry the Black Sabbath legacy forward, which I felt honored and privileged to do. So I didn’t have and I still don’t have any say in what goes on you know. They’re re-releasing the Tony Martin‘s [era albums]. I have no idea what’s happening with it. I know it’s going to be next year but that’s all I know and it was the same back then that I never really knew anything. I had my own personal manager. Tony [Iommi] had a manager. Geezer Butler had a manager. It was a bit like Spinal Tap — everybody’s got their own manager. You’d speak to your manager, then he’d phone up somebody else’s manager to go down on them and then he’d come back up to me. So it was a bit mad you know being in the band and a lot of the time, it was reading between the lines to try and get an idea of what was happening because direct questions didn’t really work.
I used to say to myself I don’t understand, that the bloke stood like you know 10 feet away from me and they won’t speak, ‘So, oh just, uh, speak to my manager about it.’ ‘Ah okay.’ So there you go up to your manager across there managing down and back up again. It’s just a nightmare. So speaking out as you asked, it didn’t really happen like that. You sort of posed the question. It went round and round and round. I was on pretty good terms with the guys. I mean I could speak reasonably freely but I was told in no uncertain terms from time to time — not always — but from time to time, there’s nothing to do with you and my manager. He [Martin‘s manager] used to get so frustrated and in fact, he kind of did himself out of a job really because Sabbath was managed by Iommi‘s guys and so my manager was just sitting there twiddling his thumbs mostly for most of the time.”
You can review other excerpts from the interview with Tony Martin at The Metal Voice‘s website and/or listen to the interview below:
Sleaze Roxx concluded the following in its review of Forbidden: “With the lack of hooks and weak choruses, Ernie C’s thin mix and Ice-T’s rapped vocals, this album was doomed from the start. Some fans even say Forbidden is Sabbath’s worst album. However, there are some good ideas and themes throughout, it’s just that the band’s execution was weak and uninspired. Although it’s not an album that most die-hard Sabbath fans would voluntarily choose to listen to, I would encourage readers to revisit this highly polarized album.”