Tony Iommi Explains Writing the Riff to BLACK SABBATH’s “Iron Man”

Black Sabbath has quite a few songs that have become household names over the years. One of those songs is “Iron Man”, with its creepy intro and iconic riff. So how’d Iommi come up with such a catchy riff? He recently told Songfacts that it was entire improvised one day while drummer Bill Ward was banging out a random beat on his kit.

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“I was in a rehearsal room, and Bill started playing this boom, boom, boom. He started doing it, and I just went [sings bending string bit before the song’s riff] and came up with this thing and thought, ‘That’s cool.’ Bill kept playing it, and I just went to this riff.

“Most of the riffs I’ve done I’ve come up with on the spot, and that was one of them — it just came up. It went with the drum, what Bill was playing. I just saw this thing in my mind of someone creeping up on you, and it just sounded like the riff. In my head, I could hear it as a monster, so I came up with that riff there and then.”

Iommi also name both “Black Sabbath” and “Iron Man” as the definite song from the Ozzy-era of the band. He mentions a lot of people think it’s “Paranoid”, but that was song was just filler.

“I always relate to ‘Black Sabbath’. And ‘Iron Man’. A lot of people say ‘Paranoid’, but the song was written as a filler for the album — it was never intended on being anything else. But it became a single because it was a short song, and because it became what it did, most people knew us because of ‘Paranoid’ in them days.”

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Check out the full interview here.

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