“I knew all about Ice-T… but I didn’t expect him to bring along his guitar player”: Tony Iommi recalls making Black Sabbath’s most disastrous album

“Forbidden has been a thorn in my side for years…”

Tony Iommi pictured on stage with his guitar in the 90s

Image: Bernd Muller / Redferns via Getty

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Tony Iommi has looked back on the awkward creation of Black Sabbath’s 1995 album Forbidden, which was widely panned by critics and fans alike upon its release.

The perplexing era for Sabbath saw the return of Neil Murray on bass and Cozy Powell behind the drums in an attempt to bring some stability to the band due to continual line up changes. Interestingly, the band’s label at the time also suggested a peculiar choice of producer.

This was Ernie Cunningham, or Ernie C, the guitar player for rapper Ice T’s metal group, Body Count. Ice-T even had a bizarre spoken word part feature on track The Illusion Of Power.

Speaking to Classic Rock, Iommi says, “Forbidden has been a thorn in my side for years. I knew all about Ice-T and that he was good, but I didn’t expect him to bring along his guitar player to produce the album.

“When a band knows its sound and exactly what it wants, bringing in an outsider is very disruptive. I found myself on the sidelines. Our whole situation had become so frail,” he recalls.

Tony Martin, who was handling vocal duties at the time, also weighs in, “I know why Ice-T and Ernie were brought in. I mean Aerosmith and Run DMC had had their big hit [Walk This Way].

“But I wasn’t even certain I would be on the album, because Ice-T was coming in to ‘sing some stuff’. When I asked whether that was one or two tracks, or more, nobody knew.”

Black Sabbath are releasing Anno Domini on 31 May, a box set collection consisting of four CDs. They contain newly remastered versions of Headless Cross (1989), TYR (1990), Cross Purposes (1994), and a new version of Forbidden, remixed by Iommi.

Iommi later adds, “I found some bits of guitar that Ernie hadn’t used [on the original album]. Within the obvious constraints, I managed to make things sound a hell of a lot better.”

Pre-order Anno Domini now.

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