Grammy honour for Brum band with a very heavy heart
BIRMINGHAM rock legends Black Sabbath are to receive a prestigious Lifetime Achievement trophy at The Grammy Awards.
It is recognition that sees the band in an elite group that includes the likes of Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.
Among other big names to have received the award in the past are Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Louis Armstrong and Irving Berlin.
“That’s great company to be in,” said Sabbath founder Tony Iommi. “There are some amazing names there.
“The only concern I have is that all of them are dead, and we’re not quite there yet!”
He need not worry. There are plenty of other honorees who are alive and kicking, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Tina Turner among them.
Announcing the Sabbath salute, Grammy organisers The Record Academy, said the influence of the Birmingham forefathers of heavy metal was huge.
“Each year, the Recording Academy has the distinct privilege of celebrating music industry giants who have greatly contributed to our cultural heritage,” said Grammy president Neil Portnow.
“This year, we have a gifted and brilliant group of honorees and their exceptional accomplishments, contributions and artistry will continue to influence and inspire generations to come.
“From their power riffs to their dark, gothic imagery, Black Sabbath arguably invented the heavy metal signposts, and influenced every heavy rock band that followed. They have made an outstanding contribution to the field of recording.”
Others to receive the lifetime award alongside Black Sabbath on May 11 in Los Angeles will be George Clinton and ParliamentFunkadelic, Sam and Dave, Dionne Warwick, Julio Iglesias, Donny Hathaway and Billy Eckstine.
It will be the third Grammy Award on the mantelpiece for Iommi, 70. His band won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance with Iron Man in 1999, and again with God Is Dead in 2013. In total, they have had five nominations during their career.
“Who would have thought, as a young kid walking along the streets of Birmingham, that you would one day be mentioned in the same breath as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley,” said the guitar hero. “I used to listen to Chuck Berry a lot when I was a youngster.
“I listened to Elvis Presley, too, but it was Chuck that I wanted to play like. Now, I think most people in the music business owe a lot to him.”
He added: “It’s been lots of hard work, too, mind. We’ve worked hard to achieve what we have. And although we stopped touring in February 2017, we still seem to be getting awards – so we must have been doing something right all this time.” Iommi is not looking forward, he admits, to the flight to California for the awards. The toll taken by non-stop trekking around the globe was one of the reasons Sabbath called it a day as far as touring was concerned, especially given his battle with lymphoma. In fact, Iommi has just had to turn down an invitation to visit California in January for a giant Gibson guitar event, but says he won’t miss the Grammy presentation. Currently he’s hard at work remixing Black Sabbath’s Forbidden album, which originally came out in 1995 to mixed reviews, and which the Ultimate Guitar website unceremoniously brands the worst in the band’s back catalogue. The line-up found Iommi with singer Tony Martin, drummer Cozy Powell, bassist Neil Murray and keyboardsman Geoff Nicholls, but none were present when the album was produced in the US, and they were all unhappy with the result. “It wasn’t what we wanted,” he admits. “And that has always disappointed me. Cozy and Geoff are no longer with us, and I want to give them justice by bringing the album back to life, sounding as we originally intended it to.”
> Black Sabbath will join the likes of Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, and Chuck Berry, below, in receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards