Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Black Sabbath's Seventh Star, easily one of the strangest and most misunderstood albums in the band's history. A “Black Sabbath” album in name only, it featured sole original member Tony Iommi fronting a short-lived lineup with ex-Deep Purple bassist/singer Glenn Hughes (vocals), Dave Spitz (bass), Geoff Nicholls (keyboards) and former Lita Ford/future KISS drummer Eric Singer. Although Seventh Star's commercial sound (especially with the epic power ballad "No Stranger To Love") and “Black Sabbath Featuring Tony Iommi” moniker left many fans scratching their heads, it's still a brilliant mid '80s Hard Rock album that stands alongside the era's best.
Here is a Seventh Star-related excerpt from my 2005 interview with Eric Singer, available in full in my 2010 book, From Satan to Sabbath: The METAL Interviews 2000-2009:
You came on board with Sabbath in 1985. Was it considered “Black Sabbath” at that point, or was it still a Tony Iommi solo project?
When I got involved, I was playing with Lita, and Tony was dating her. Tony saw me playing with Lita, and he was actually producing some of the demos we were doing for Lita. He played on some of the demos, if I remember. One song we did was a version of B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone,” and Tony played the solo on it. Tony and Lita were engaged, and we did a song called “The Bride Wore Black.” I think that might have been the tentative working title for her album at the time. I did a lot of demos with Lita, and actually did pre-production twice for a record that never happened because Lita was going through different changes at the time. Then, Lita said, “Tony wants to know if you want to play on some demos for him.” Of course, I was very jazzed about it. I started going to Cherokee Studios and doing demos of different stuff. It started off originally with Gordon Copley of Lita Ford’s band playing bass, with Tony and Geoff Nicholls. We’d flesh out ideas and put them on tape.
Tony was originally going to try working with a different singer. I remember he brought that guy Jeff Fenholt down. He used to be in Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s kind of a Born-Again guy who claims he used to be in Black Sabbath and gave up “the Devil’s music.” I always thought it was ridiculous, because the guy was never in Black Sabbath. He basically came to the studio for a period of a few weeks or maybe a month and worked on some ideas with Tony, but it never got past that. Somehow, he claims he was in Black Sabbath, which I always thought was very weird.
They brought in Jeff Glixman to produce. He produced a lot of the Kansas records and a couple of Gary Moore records. Jeff was actually the one who brought in Glenn Hughes. Originally, Tony’s idea was to do a solo record with multiple singers. He was going to have David Coverdale, Robert Plant and all these different people sing on different tracks. From what I can remember, once Glenn started singing, they figured, “Why get all these other guys? This guy’s so good!” Glenn ended up singing on everything. Of course, it ended up being put out as a Black Sabbath record because of the record company. Obviously, they figured they would get better mileage out of sales. I’m sure it was a record company/management decision. What started out of a solo project became another Black Sabbath record, although Tony was the only member of Black Sabbath left.
Once you were in Sabbath, how did you approach the drum tracks that Bill [Ward] created for the earlier material, and what was your greatest challenge in re-creating some of those moments?
Sabbath has always been Tony’s baby, and he’s the only one who’s kept it going all these years. He would sometimes sit and explain to us how to approach the songs the way he wanted. I remember one time in particular when we doing production rehearsals, we were doing the song “Black Sabbath,” and he was really specific on how he wanted it interpreted. I have to be fair and honest with myself and say that I was really inexperienced and pretty green at the time. Mind you, this was the mid ’80s, when the whole approach to music was very different than what Sabbath had based its roots on. Even though I was always a fan of Sabbath and influenced by them, I probably didn’t have the appreciation and understanding I do now. The old saying, “When you’re older, you’re wiser,” is absolutely true. There were times when Tony would explain to Dave Spitz – who was playing bass at the time – and me how to approach the songs with the right attitude. Tony always approached the music very seriously. He’s a total prankster, and he likes to wind people up and stuff, but he’s also very serious when it comes to the musical side of things. Sabbath was never about, “Let’s have a big smile on our faces and have a big party.” It was a more serious thing.
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