British honour to Tony Iommi

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Donald Trump is a fan of Black Sabbath, and craves Tony's autograph


Black Sabbath have revealed one of their surprising celebrity fans – Donald Trump. You might not expect that the next President of the United States would be a lover of heavy metal and it’s hard to imagine him jumping about in a mosh pit. Yet The Donald once went to see the Birmingham Kings of Heaven and Hell, reveals guitarist Tony Iommi. Tony remembers:

“We have a lot of people come to our show you wouldn’t think. Donald Trump came a few years ago. We were leaving because we had to get the flight. He came backstage with his daughter but we couldn’t stay to talk to him, we couldn’t miss the slot for our plane. It was a bit ‘hello, hello’ and gone. Bruce Willis and all sorts of people have been to see us.”

Tony is musing on unusual fans as he considers whether Donny Osmond might watch them perform at the Genting Arena in Birmingham. Their massive farewell world tour The End finishes in their home city – but the final two dates could not be consecutive because of the Osmond brothers. Black Sabbath play on Thursday, February 4 and Saturday February 6, with Donny Osmond in between on the Friday.
Tony also says: 

“The whole thing is different, the way you travel, hotels. It’s definitely nicer, we stay in the best hotels and travel on private jets. But what we don’t have so much of that we used to is the communication between each other. We get off the jet and into four different cars, as we each have security with us in the cars. We get to our rooms and generally don’t see each other, not like years ago when we used to go down the bar. Everybody is a recovering alcoholic and I’m the only one that drinks now. It’s a long, long day with all the travelling. But I love playing, that’s what it’s all about for me. Playing with the guys has been brilliant.”

The Handsworth lad says: “It had to finish in Birmingham, it’s our home and where we started. We will be doing something a bit different for Birmingham and not the same set list as the rest of the tour. I’ve talked to Ozzy and Geezer about what we might do. We will try it when we get to Germany and run over a few different songs to see what we want to do. I think it will be emotional in Birmingham. It hasn’t sunk in yet, that it’s the last world tour.”

Asked if it's really the end, Tony replies: 

“I hope it won’t be The End forever. It would be nice to think we can do the odd one-off show. But to do a one-off show takes a lot of organising. That’s why you end up doing these long tours. It’s a very big crew and it takes a million a week to run it. People wonder why the tickets are expensive and it’s because the running costs are phenomenal, the flights, the crew, the hotels, a big set. That’s why we keep it going, if you have six months off the crew will get another job and we like to keep the same people.”

Figures suggest that The End tour grossed $34 million in the first half of 2016 from 31 shows, but they won’t have made huge profits because of the high overheads. Tony has more solo projects in mind. He has already started working on new projects, including writing a haunting choral work for Birmingham Cathedral Choir called How Good It Is, inspired by Psalm 133. He describes it as his gift to Birmingham after making friends with the Dean of Birmingham, the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle. And coming up could be more TV work, both appearing on it and writing music – what about for the hit Birmingham-made drama Peaky Blinders?

He says: “I want to take some time off afterwards and think about what I’m going to do. I was involved in the Sky talent show Guitar Star and I’d like to write music for TV. As for Peaky Blinders, I did talk to Steven Knight about that at one party, I don’t know what happened to that. I like to have a go at things that are different for me. I’ve got millions of riffs in my head and I need to put some of them in shape.”


Roz Laws for Birmingham Mail, 16 January 2017

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