Tony Iommi looks back on Black Sabbath's “surreal” Live Aid reunion experience

Black Sabbath backstage at Live Aid in 1985
Black Sabbath backstage at Live Aid in 1985 (Image credit: Ann Clifford/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection - Getty)

Tony Iommi has spoken about the “surreal” experience of getting back together with his Black Sabbath bandmates for their three-song set at Live Aid in 1985.

The original lineup of Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward hadn’t played together since 1978 when they reunited at Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium for the historic show, which was organised to raise relief funds in light of the Ethiopian famine.

And with Live Aid celebrating its 35th anniversary earlier this week, Iommi has reflected on what it was like getting the band back together for the concert.

The guitarist tells SiriusXM: “It was great being with the guys again. It was a bit surreal to be honest because basically I’d been in the studio working. It was an unusual thing for us to come from the studio then suddenly here we are onstage in front of all the people. 

“We’d never really done that before. We’ve always rehearsed for a proper show for a while, but this was like a quick rehearsal for an hour and the next day we were on stage.

“It was a bit nervy because you don’t know how things are going to go with the equipment and all the stuff – and we hadn’t been onstage together for so long. You have to sort of suck it and see what’s going to happen.”

Sabbath played three tracks at Live Aid: Children Of The Grave, Iron Man and Paranoid, with the US show, along with the UK concert at London’s Wembley Stadium, watched by millions around the world.

Black Sabbath brought the curtain down on their career with pair of shows in their hometown of Birmingham in February 2017, although both Ozzy and Iommi have expressed an interest in Black Sabbath possibly reuniting in 2022 to mark the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.