Tony Martin (British singer)

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Tony Martin
Tony Martin 1.jpg
Background information
Birth nameAnthony Philip Harford
Also known asThe Cat
Born (1957-04-19) 19 April 1957 (age 62)
Birmingham, England
Genres Hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal, doom metal, power metal
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, violin, bass, drums, synthesizer, keyboards, harmonica, bagpipes
Years active1970s–present
Labels Warner Bros.
Associated acts Black Sabbath, Cozy Powell's Hammer, Misha Calvin, Rondinelli, Aldo Giuntini, Phenomena, Empire

Anthony Philip Harford (born 19 April 1957), better known by his stage name Tony Martin, is a heavy metal vocalist, best known for his time fronting Black Sabbath, initially from 1987 to 1991 and again from 1993 to 1997. [1] Martin was the band's second longest serving vocalist after Ozzy Osbourne. He has since been involved in many other projects (such as M3, Misha Calvin, The Cage, Giuntini Project, and Phenomena).

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and recorded the group’s final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city Birmingham, England in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".


Despite performing almost exclusively as a vocalist, Martin is a multi-instrumentalist, stating in an interview [2] that he plays guitar, bass, drums, violin, keyboards, harmonica, bagpipes, and pan pipes. On his 2005 solo album Scream , Martin performed vocals, bass, drums, violin and additional guitar parts. [3]

Bagpipes Musical instrument

Bagpipes are a woodwind instrument using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. The Scottish Great Highland bagpipes are the best known in the Anglophone world; however, bagpipes have been played for a millennium or more throughout large parts of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, including Turkey, the Caucasus, and around the Persian Gulf. The term bagpipe is equally correct in the singular or plural, though pipers usually refer to the bagpipes as "the pipes", "a set of pipes" or "a stand of pipes".

<i>Scream</i> (Tony Martin album) 2005 studio album by Tony Martin

Scream is the second solo album of the former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin. Released on November 8, 2005. The song "Raising Hell" features former Black Sabbath drummer Cozy Powell and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls. On most songs, Tony's son Joe Harford plays guitar. Nearly all other instruments are played by Martin himself.


Black Sabbath, The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross and Tyr (1986–90)

During the recording of The Eternal Idol (1987), Martin was brought in to re-record Ray Gillen's tracks, alongside former Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan who had previously been in Sabbath during 1983/84 on the Born Again tour.

<i>The Eternal Idol</i> 1987 studio album by Black Sabbath

The Eternal Idol is the 13th studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on November 23, 1987. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Tony Martin. It spent six weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at 168. It was also the last full album of new material by Black Sabbath to be released by Warner Bros. Records, and the final album through their original label Vertigo Records until the release of 13 in 2013.

Raymond Arthur Gillen was an American rock singer-songwriter. He is a best known for his work with Badlands, in addition to his stint with Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s and recording most of the vocals on Phenomena's Dream Runner album.

Electric Light Orchestra British band

The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) are an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1970 by songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood with drummer Bev Bevan. Their music is characterised by a fusion of Beatlesque pop, classical arrangements, and futuristic iconography. After Wood's departure in 1972, Lynne became the band's leader, arranging and producing every album while writing virtually all of their original material. For their initial tenure, Lynne, Bevan, and keyboardist Richard Tandy were the group's only consistent members.

Martin had been contacted by Black Sabbath to replace Glenn Hughes the year previous. He secured his place in the band after a successful audition singing the track "The Shining".[ citation needed ] Before the release of the new album, Black Sabbath accepted an offer to play six shows at Sun City, South Africa during the apartheid era. During this period Geezer Butler was coerced into rejoining the band with Bev Bevan remaining on drums. The band was supposed to play a music festival in Plymouth on 18 July, but Butler backed out at the last minute but Martin and Sabbath had been in rehearsals on 14–16 July in preparation. [4]

Glenn Hughes British singer-songwriter

Glenn Hughes is an English rock bassist and vocalist, best known for playing bass and performing vocals for funk rock pioneers Trapeze, the Mk. III and IV line-ups of Deep Purple, as well as briefly fronting Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s.

Sun City, North West Place in North West, South Africa

Sun City is a luxury resort and casino, situated in the North West Province of South Africa. It is located between the Elands River and the Pilanesberg, about two hours' drive from Johannesburg, near the city of Rustenburg. The complex borders the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

The band drew criticism from activists and artists involved with Artists United Against Apartheid, who had been boycotting South Africa since 1985. [5] Bev Bevan refused to play the shows, and was replaced by Terry Chimes, formerly of The Clash. After nearly a year in production, Martin's debut with Sabbath The Eternal Idol was released on 8 December 1987 and ignored by contemporary reviewers. On-line internet era reviews were mixed. AllMusic said that "Martin's powerful voice added new fire" to the band, and the album contained "some of Iommi's heaviest riffs in years". [6]

Artists United Against Apartheid was a 1985 protest group founded by activist and performer Steven Van Zandt and record producer Arthur Baker to protest against apartheid in South Africa. The group produced the song "Sun City" and the album Sun City that year, which is considered a notable anti-apartheid song.

Terence "Terry" Chimes is an English musician, best known as the original drummer of punk rock group The Clash. He originally played with them from July 1976 to November 1976, January 1977 to April 1977, and again from May 1982 to February 1983. He later drummed for Hanoi Rocks in 1985, before the band broke up that same year. He briefly toured with Black Sabbath from July 1987 through December 1987, and in a one-off gig in May 1988. He also appeared as their drummer in Black Sabbath's music video for their single "The Shining" from their 1987 album The Eternal Idol.

The Clash British punk rock band

The Clash were an English rock band formed in London in 1976 as a key player in the original wave of British punk rock. They have also contributed to the post-punk and new wave movements that emerged in the wake of punk and employed elements of a variety of genres including reggae, dub, funk, ska and rockabilly. For most of their recording career, the Clash consisted of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Joe Strummer, lead guitarist and lead vocalist Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon, and drummer Nicky "Topper" Headon. Headon left the group in 1982, and internal friction led to Jones' departure the following year. The group continued with new members, but finally disbanded in early 1986.

The album would stall at No. 66 in the UK, peaking at 168 in the US.[ citation needed ] Sabbath toured in support of Eternal Idol in Germany, Italy and for the first time, Greece. Unfortunately, in part because of a backlash from promoters over the South Africa incident, other European shows were cancelled. [7] Bassist Dave Spitz left the band shortly before the tour, and was replaced by Jo Burt, formerly of Virginia Wolf.

Jo Burt is an English rock musician and songwriter. He is possibly known for being the bassist for Black Sabbath during their 1987 tour in support of the album The Eternal Idol. He left the band once the tour ended.

Virginia Wolf was a British rock band of the 1970s and 1980s. Their albums included Virginia Wolf (1986) and Push (1987). The band existed from 1977 until 1988, and featured Nick Bold on lead guitar throughout. Chris Ousey was the vocalist for most of this time and Jason Bonham was the drummer on both their albums. David John Hinson was the keyboardist.

Following the poor commercial performance of The Eternal Idol, Black Sabbath were dropped by Vertigo Records and Warner Bros. Records, and signed with I.R.S. Records.[ citation needed ] The band took time off in 1988, returning in August to begin work on their next album. As a result of the recording troubles with Eternal Idol, Tony Iommi opted to produce the band's next album himself. "It was a completely new start", Iommi said. "I had to rethink the whole thing, and decided that we needed to build up some credibility again". [8] Iommi enlisted ex-Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell, long-time keyboardist Geoff Nicholls and session bassist Laurence Cottle, and rented a "very cheap studio in England". [8]

Black Sabbath released Headless Cross in April 1989, and this album was again ignored by contemporary reviewers. Eventually, AllMusic would give the album four stars, calling Headless Cross "the finest non-Ozzy or Dio Black Sabbath album". [9] Anchored by the number 62 charting single "Headless Cross", the album reached number 31 on the UK charts, and number 115 in the US.[ citation needed ] Queen guitarist Brian May, a good friend of Iommi's, played a guest solo on the song "When Death Calls". Black Sabbath were told by Gloria Butler that Geezer was going to join the band again. The band waited until April 1989 for Butler, but Geezer instead went and joined Ozzy Osbourne's band. [4] Following the album's release, the band added touring bassist Neil Murray, formerly of Whitesnake, Gary Moore's backing band, and Vow Wow.[ citation needed ]

The ill-fated Headless Cross U.S. tour began in May 1989 with openers Kingdom Come and Silent Rage, but because of poor ticket sales, the tour was cancelled after just eight shows. The European leg of the tour began in September, where the band were enjoying chart success. After a string of Japanese shows, the band embarked on a 23 date Russian tour with Girlschool. Black Sabbath was one of the first bands to tour Russia, after Mikhail Gorbachev opened the country to western acts for the first time in 1989. [7]

Tony Martin returned to the studio with Black Sabbath in February 1990 to record Tyr , the follow-up to Headless Cross. While not technically a concept album, some of the album's lyrical themes are loosely based on Norse mythology.[ citation needed ]Tyr was released on 6 August 1990, and reached number 24 on the UK albums chart, but was the first Black Sabbath release not to break the Billboard 200 in the US.[ citation needed ] The album would receive mixed internet-era reviews, with AllMusic noting that the band "mix myth with metal in a crushing display of musical synthesis", [10] while Blender gave the album just one star, claiming that "Iommi continues to besmirch the Sabbath name with this unremarkable collection". [11] The band toured in support of Tyr with Circus of Power in Europe, but the final seven UK dates were cancelled because of poor ticket sales. [12] For the first time in their career, the band's touring cycle did not include US dates. [13] The tour had a few surprises, that being that Ian Gillan, Geezer Butler, & Brian May made appearances during a few of the shows. [4]

Butler officially rejoined the band after the end of the Tyr tour ahead of the Dehumanizer (1992) album with the intention of putting something back together with Tony Iommi and Cozy Powell. In an interview with Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi in Kerrang in mid-1991 they talked about having to "get rid of" Tony Martin. This effectively ended Martins first spell with the band. [4]

Brief Departure from Sabbath and Back Where I Belong (1991–93)

Tony Martin recorded his first solo album Back Where I Belong (1992) while Black Sabbath had reunited with Ronnie James Dio for the Dehumanizer (1992) album.

At the demo level for Back Where I Belong, Tony Martin played all the instruments and the album itself featured former Black Sabbath members bassist Neil Murray and drummer Cozy Powell, as well as Brian May on guitar, among others. Cozy Powell also joined the band for the subsequent tour after leaving Black Sabbath himself. There were two singles released for the album. The first was "If There Is a Heaven", and the second was "Angel in the Bed". This album includes a version of "Jerusalem" from the Black Sabbath album Tyr (1990).

Tony Martin stated that "Back Where I Belong is an album of songs that were written over the period between 1990 and 1991. The title reflects my feelings at having this opportunity to write, record, and perform my own material. The recording of this album has been made possible due to the contributions of the following people who have all given their individual and very special talents to this project, for which I would like to express my eternal thanks!" [14] Tony Martin returned briefly to Black Sabbath to work on Dehumanizer (1992) when things were not working out with Ronnie James Dio. He, Geoff Nicholls and Cozy Powell worked on a song called "Raising Hell" during these sessions which subsequently ended up on Martins second solo album Scream (2005).

Martin said: "I had already started my first solo album Back Where I Belong so when I got the call to go back I was committed by that point. And in fact it was just a couple of months after they had started the thing with Ronnie James Dio. I was determined to finish my solo thing and so turned them down at that point. We did keep in touch though and I went to some shows. Ronnie wasn’t too pleased, but eventually they had enough and asked me to rejoin again later so it felt like I hadn’t actually left. In fact, I was never formally fired, the phone just stopped ringing. Ian Gillan [Deep Purple singer, also another ex-Black Sabbath lead singer] asked me once if I had actually been fired and I said, "No." He said, "Neither have I." We should just turn up one day and walk on stage!" [15]

Martin's return to Sabbath at this stage was again short lived as Warner Bros had paid a huge amount of advance money for Dehumanizer, and again, record company pressure forced another change, they wanted either Ozzy Osbourne or Dio. Tony Martin was again forced out from the band in favour of Dio. [4]

Tony Martin famously met Dio on the Dehumanizer tour after being invited to the show by Iommi & Butler. Martin would be flown in to replace Dio (who had left the band over the Ozzy Osbourne retirement show) on the last show of the tour but after visa problems Rob Halford was asked to do the show instead. [16] [17]

Return to Black Sabbath, Cross Purposes and Forbidden (1993–97)

Drummer Vinny Appice left the band following the reunion show to join Ronnie James Dio's solo band, later appearing on Dio's Strange Highways and Angry Machines . After Iommi & Butler realised that the Ozzy Osbourne reunion talks were breaking down they enlisted former Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli, and reinstated Martin. Martins 4th album with Sabbath, Cross Purposes , was released on 8 February 1994. The album received mixed reviews, with Blender giving the album two stars, calling Soundgarden's 1994 album Superunknown "a far better Sabbath album than this by-the-numbers potboiler". [18] AllMusic's Bradley Torreano called Cross Purposes "the first album since Born Again that actually sounds like a real Sabbath record". [19]

The album just missed the Top 40 in the UK reaching number 41, and also reached 122 on the Billboard 200 in the US. Cross Purposes contained the song "Evil Eye", which was co-written by Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, although uncredited because of record label restrictions.[ citation needed ] Touring in support of Cross Purposes began in February 1994 with Morbid Angel and Motörhead in the US. The band filmed a live performance at the Hammersmith Apollo on 13 April 1994, which was released on VHS accompanied by a CD, entitled Cross Purposes Live . After the European tour with Cathedral and Godspeed in June 1994, drummer Bobby Rondinelli quit the band and was replaced by original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward for five shows in South America. Following the touring cycle for Cross Purposes, bassist Geezer Butler quit the band for the second time.

Iommi would criticize Martin during this period in his book, to which Martin responded; "It surprises me. I mean, they never said anything to me. Surely, if you've got a problem, the first person you should say something to is the person that's in the band with you... You don't wait ten years. It sounds like a really stupid thing to say, as they didn't say anything to my face – and, if that's the case, then more fool them for not saying anything, because, you know, we could have fixed it. I said to them, endlessly, that if there was anything they wanted changed, done differently, just to say and we could fix it, but clearly they didn't, they hadn't got the guts to, obviously, and to write about it in a book afterwards seems a bit daft to me. I'm not bitter about it, but it is surprising… it seems a bit stupid to say that after the event". [20]

Following Butler's departure, newly returned drummer Bill Ward once again left the band. Butler and Ward were meant to have recorded Forbidden (1995). In the wake of their departure Iommi then reinstated former members Neil Murray on bass and Cozy Powell on drums, effectively reuniting the TYR line-up. The band enlisted Body Count guitarist Ernie C to produce the new album, which was recorded in London in the fall of 1994. The album featured a guest vocal on "Illusion of Power" by Body Count vocalist Ice-T. [21] The resulting Forbidden was released on 8 June 1995, but failed to chart in the US or the UK. [22] [23] The album was widely panned by critics; AllMusic's Bradley Torreano said "with boring songs, awful production, and uninspired performances, this is easily avoidable for all but the most enthusiastic fan"; [24] while Blender magazine called Forbidden "an embarrassment ... the band's worst album". [25]

Black Sabbath embarked on a world tour in July 1995 with openers Motörhead and Tiamat, but two months into the tour, drummer Cozy Powell left the band, citing health issues, and was replaced by former drummer Bobby Rondinelli. This would be Martin's final tour with the band.

In December 1996, both Tony Martin (via a letter to Sam Naugler) and Iommi (via an interview with Pete Scott) both confirm that Martin is not "out" of Sabbath, so as late as December 1996, it would appear that Iommi intended on going forward with the band as it last existed at the end of 1995. As for the rest of the band, Neil Murray was working with Cozy Powell in Peter Green's (founder of Fleetwood Mac) 'Splinter Group'.

In 1997, Tony Iommi disbanded the contemporary line-up to officially reunite with Ozzy Osbourne and the original Black Sabbath line-up. Vocalist Tony Martin claimed that an original line-up reunion had been in the works since the band's brief reunion at Ozzy Osbourne's 1992 Costa Mesa show, and that the band released subsequent albums to fulfill their record contract with I.R.S. Records. Martin later recalled Forbidden as a "filler album that got the band out of the label deal, rid of the singer, and into the reunion. However I wasn't privy to that information at the time". [26] I.R.S. Records released a compilation album in 1996 to fulfil the band's contract, entitled The Sabbath Stones , which featured songs from Born Again (1983) to Forbidden (1995).

Martin would also later hit out on Sabbath for being deleted from the band's history; "It seems a bit of a waste of ten years of the band's history. To cut that out, they're not just cutting me out, they're cutting themselves out. It seems like cutting your own nose off to spite your face. Why would you want to delete ten years of your history? It seems to me that they've got their minds elsewhere, and whatever brings them the most money seems to be what they go for. I mean, the Ozzy reunion. How many times do you want to go and pay to see them do the same stuff? OK, people argue that those old songs are people's favourites. Well; it's probably that way because you keep ramming it down people's throats and don't give them a chance to buy anything else. It seems disjointed and disconnected to me, and I don't understand why they would want to even cut themselves out of that history". [20]

Solo and other collaborations (1998–2005)

After leaving Sabbath, Martin worked with a variety of projects, including Aldo Giuntini. With Dario Mollo, he released two further albums; The Cage in 1999 and The Cage 2 . Martin also worked with Empire for their 2003 record Trading Souls.

Late in 2004, Tony let it be known that there would be a new solo album by him out in 2005. The album was recorded at Tony Martin's house, which is in Headless Cross in Redditch, Worcestershire England. The album featured again former Sabbath member Geoff Nicholls and some drum tracks from the late Cozy Powell. Martin explained; "I have recorded 2 tracks featuring the legendary drumming of Cozy Powell. How? well, when I fronted Cozy Powell's Hammer, he gave me 20 drumming tracks to write some songs with, I forgot I had them until I found them recently in the move to my new house." [3]

Tony Martin's Headless Cross (2006 present)

Tony Martin established Headless Cross in 2005 and would go on to tour Europe in 2006. The band also toured Brazil in 2008. [27]

After Dio's passing in 2010, there was some speculation that he would either return to Black Sabbath or join the renamed Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell. Martin however ruled out ever working with Sabbath again stating: "Sabbath hasn’t talked to me in 15 years. All of the albums that I was on were removed from sale completely by them and it would take unbelievable changes to get it all back together". Black Sabbath were rejoined by Ozzy Osbourne in 2011 with the band's legal disputes apparently concluded. [28]

Tony Martin's Headless Cross last performed at the Asylum in Birmingham, UK on 27 July 2012. [29] This marked Martin's first ever UK show as a solo artist and first show with his new Headless Cross line-up. Martin stated in interviews that this will be his only live show of the year. [30] [31]

In January 2013 Martin signed to a new music publishing deal by Alan Bambrough of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Limited. Martin's would be working on the fourth album Giuntini Project IV (2013) from Giuntini Project, the Italian people heavy metal band started in 1988 by guitarist Aldo Giuntini as a solo project. This will be the third album Martin has appeared on. Martin will also appear on releases with Layla Milou and with Veronica Freeman, vocalist with Benedictum. [32]

Reunion with Iommi and Black Sabbath re-releases

In January 2016 Martin announced on his Facebook page that he "was greeted by Tony Iommi VERY warmly" at the unveiling of the Cozy Powell memorial (also attended by Neil Murray) and that they may work together again. Shortly after Iommi himself announced his intention to work with Tony Martin again. Iommi said: "We've held back on the reissues because of the current Sabbath thing with Ozzy, but they will certainly be happening. I'd like to do a couple of new tracks for those releases [Headless Cross and Tyr] with Tony Martin. I'll also be looking at working on Cross Purposes and Forbidden." [33] [34] [35] [36]

Personal life

In August 2015, Martin married his wife Carol. [37]


DateArtistAlbum TitleNotes
1987 Black Sabbath The Eternal Idol
1988 Forcefield Forcefield II: The Talisman
1989Black Sabbath Headless Cross
1990Black Sabbath Tyr
1992Tony Martin (solo) Back Where I Belong
1993 Misha Calvin Evolution
1994Black Sabbath Cross Purposes
1995Black Sabbath Cross Purposes Live Live albums, VHS
1995Black Sabbath Forbidden
1996Black Sabbath The Sabbath Stones Compilations
1999 Dario Mollo / Tony Martin The Cage
1999 Giuntini Project Giuntini Project II
2002 Rondinelli Our Cross, Our Sins
2002Dario Mollo / Tony Martin The Cage 2
2003 Empire Trading Souls
2003M3Classic 'Snake Live
2005Tony Martin (solo) Scream
2006EmpireRaven Ride
2006Giuntini Project Giuntini Project III
2008 Mario Parga Spirit of NightSingle
2009Tony Martin (solo)Who Put the Devil in SantaSingle
2012Dario Mollo / Tony Martin The Third Cage
2012Silver HorsesSilver Horses
2013Giuntini Project Giuntini Project IV
TBATony Martin (solo)Black Widow Angel

Guest appearances

Current solo band members

Former/session/guest members

First solo album: Back Where I Belong (1992)

Second solo album: Scream (2005)

See also

Related Research Articles

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The End Tour was the farewell tour of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, featuring founding members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. The tour concluded Sabbath's 40+ year career. The final show was 4 February 2017, in their home city of Birmingham, UK.


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