So I just finished Tony Iommi's Iron Man: My Journal Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. I spent the first few chapters wondering why I was bothering with such a disjointed, prosaic autobiography. Then I started to wonder why it was so compelling. Then I stopped caring and started noting the things that made me laugh. Here are just a few:
On a 1972 tour with Yes:
Us and Yes: it was an extremely unlikely combination. They hated us, because I'm sure in their minds they were the clever players and we were the working class. Sometimes they talked and other times they would walk straight past you. Very strange. Years later we all got along fine, but it took a long time. And they were funny on stage. If anyone made a mistake, the daggers would be out. We thought, what's all that about? Music, somebody's made a mistake, so what? It's a good thing they weren't in our band. We would make mistakes every two minutes. Here we were, with them as supporting act with all their clever stuff coming out, and we're going 'boing', 'clunk', 'zzzzz'. They must have gone: 'What the fuck? What are we doing here?'
Their keyboard player, Rick Wakeman, didn't get on with them, so he travelled with us as much as he could. We liked Rick. I think he was interested in playing with us, but he would have been too good, too much for what we wanted. We only wanted something very basic, that just went 'duh-duuh-duh'. It wasn't like Yes music.
As time went on, we came to know them and got on with them quite well. Years ago I did an American TV show called Rock School with Gene Simmons. They recorded it over here in England and the idea of it was to teach kids how to play. Gene's done a series of them. He's all right. Every time I see him now I just take him with a pinch of salt. He's telling me how much money he's earned and how to earn this and how to do that. But that's the way he is. It's just him.
On Linda Blair and The Exorcist:
Linda Blair from the movie The Exorcist came to our gig in New Haven, Connecticut. Ozzy was a bit infatuated with her, probably because he'd seen the movie. Or maybe he identified with her, because in the movie she also peed all over the place.
As a matter of fact, we all were very impressed by Linda once. We went to see The Exorcist at a cinema in Philadelphia a couple of years before and it scared the shit out of us. Back at the hotel we went into the bar to have a drink to calm ourselves down. The television there showed a programme with this priest talking about exorcism. That made it even worse. We got so scared that none of us could sleep, so we spent the night in the same room. Just pathetic.
Ronnie brought quite a lot as far as the sound of his voice goes as well. He knew what he wanted and he could tell us in music terms: 'Why don't we try an A there?'
Ozzy couldn't; he wouldn't know what an A or a D was. At best he might go: 'We'll need something else there.'
'Not really. What about, erm...'
On Dio's relationship with Cozy Powell:
But it was just awful. There was real friction between our singer and our drummer. Ronnie wasn't mad about having Cozy in the band and I remember Cozy going: 'If that little cunt says anything to me, I'm going to smash him in the face.'
On Dio and Ozzy:
At the same time Ozzy announced his retirement. About two months before he was to do the supposedly last gigs of his life, on 13 and 14 November 1992, at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, California, we were asked to perform there with him. It was Ozzy's first farewell tour, so we genuinely believed that he was going to retire. So when they asked us to do it, we said: 'Yeah, okay, of course we'll be there.'
We were going to open for Ozzy with the current band and then do three songs with the original line-up at the end of his show, to round it all off. We thought it would be a nice gesture to do it. We asked Ronnie and he said: 'I'm not doing that.'
In no uncertain terms.
'I'm not supporting a clown.'
On midgets as part of their show, but also Dio and Ozzy again:
The midget was a bit of a pop star, because he'd been one of the little bears in Star Wars. Ozzy at the time also took a midget out on the road; I think he called him Ronnie. I don't know who had the first one, really. It became a thing. Midgets were in demand. But we had the most famous midget because ours was in Star Wars.
'Who's got the most famous midget?'
He kept ribbing the crew with it: 'I've been in the movies!'
They really didn't care about that at all, so they did all manner of things to this poor guy. One night they locked him in a flight case.
'What's happened to the midget?'
Nobody could find him. The little guy nearly suffocated.
Then another day I went down for a sound check and I could hear: 'Help! Help!'
I looked up and they had him hanging over the stage on a chain, upside down. The poor bugger, he really took some stick. It was becoming a real thing for the crew: 'What can we do to him next?'
On Jeff Fenholt, vocalist for Sabbath for a very short time in the mid-80s:
A little later Jeff Fenholt suddenly became this big TV evangelist. I couldn't believe it, because when we met him he was saying things like: 'Oh yeah, I fucked that chick.'
Great book for any fan of Black Sabbath, by the way.