Tony Iommi, Ian Gillan and Friends Unite For An Armenian Benefit

Iommi, Gillan and friends raising money for a school in Armenia.

It has been nearly 30 years since guitarist Tony Iommi and singer Ian Gillan recorded Black Sabbath’s superlative Born Again album together, and while many fans were mixed on the results, it stands out today as one of the most memorable Sabbath releases, even if it was a short-lived partnership. Now the twosome has reunited, with a slew of hard rock and metal luminaries in tow, for a two-song single under the banner WhoCares, a collaborative effort created to raise money to rebuild a music school in Gyumri, Armenia. Their two-track CD single, due out in America on June 27th via Eagle Rock Entertainment (and in Europe on May 24th), will also include a video clip (see below) plus 40-minute documentary about Gillan’s and Iommi’s involvement with this cause over many years.

The two new songs are “Out Of My Mind” and “Holy Water,” and both co-star the titanic twosome. The former track also features HIM/Daniel Lioneye guitarist Linde Lindstrom, bassist Jason Newsted, keyboardist Jon Lord and Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain. The latter track includes guitarists Steve Morris and Michael Lee Jackson, bassist Rodney Appleby, Hammond Organ player Jesse O’Brien and drummer Randy Clarke, with a Duduk solo from Arshak Sahakyan and Duduk and keyboards from Ara Gevorgyan. It will be really interesting to hear what “Holy Water” sounds like.

Iommi and Gillan spoke recently with the Mediamax news agency in Armenia, and Gillan expressed his pleasure at teaming up with his one-time bandmate once more, adding that he hopes to do it again soon. (Many fans will undoubtedly be screaming for a full album together.) “It wasn’t like the last experience with Black Sabbath,” clarified the singer. “That was a band and an album — totally different.”

The two were reunited through their love for Armenia, a country where they have visited since the earthquake that devastated the region in December 1988, and the inspiration for “Out Of My Mind” came after they visited Armenia again in October 2009. “The idea came as Tony and I flew back from Yerevan together after being inspired by the enthusiasm of everyone there to get this thing done,” recalled Gillan. “It was brilliant working with Tony again after all these years; he makes life easy for a singer. The other guys need no introduction, do they?!” The two songs they chose were pretty much ready go rather than needing to be built up in the studio. “In this case with ‘Out of My Mind,’ Tony presented the entire musical idea and I wrote what I sing over the top, or along with it, if you prefer,” explained Gillan. “‘Holy Water’ was a bit different as I wrote that with [Deep Purple guitarist] Steve Morse, and Tony was gracious enough to play guitar on it.”

“Some twenty years ago when the call came, I thought, well at least I’ve helped,” said Iommi of this charitable cause, “but it was going to Armenia and seeing the actual devastation caused by the earthquake that really made me realize that funds were still needed. Despite all the money that was raised last time, here was a music school doing their best, forgotten, in basic tin sheds. After the warmth and honor bestowed upon us during our visit, we just had to help make a difference and get the school rebuilt. And what better way than to hook up with some of rock’s greatest players and my old mate Ian, both an honor and a pleasure.”

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