British Honour to Tony Iommi
Tony tells stories about some highlights of his career

Tony tells stories about some highlights of his career


Tony recalled some very interesting moments of his career at the special spoken word shows he recently had in Scotland and London. He told amazing stories on them early days when Sabbath was starting out.

“Bill and I lived in Carlisle for a year after joining a band there and we used to play lots of gigs around Dumfries, Edinburgh and places around Scotland,” Tony said, - “So when Sabbath started, that’s where we went back to play – we got in touch with the agent and said we had a new band. She asked if it was pop music we were playing and I said of course. She heard later we were playing different stuff and she’d received a few complaints. We weren’t getting many gigs but we were playing in blues clubs and playing that sort of music. But when we wrote our first two songs, Wicked World and Black Sabbath, I knew we were on to something really different. We tried them out in those clubs and people came up to us afterwards and said they really liked them. It was great to get that reaction. There were also people who didn’t like them, of course, but we were interested in the ones who did. No one had heard a sound like it, and when Paranoid was released they hit the big time.

I thought I would do something in martial arts because I used to go training three or four times a week – karate, judo and so on – and I really enjoyed it, but as soon as I found music, everything else fell by the wayside. After the accident with my fingers I had to find another way to play, so I had to learn again. I’d already been playing for a couple of years, so had to go back to the start. But it helped me come up with a style and to invent a sound because I couldn’t play full chords, so I had to develop a way to make it sound big with what I had. I took my guitar to pieces and made modifications. I made it work.”

Tony remembered his brief tenure with Jethro Tull back in 1968 as well.

“We weren’t Sabbath, we were called Earth. And I went with Jethro Tull. It was just a short stay and it wasn’t right for me. And I came back and we got the band back together again, with Ozzy and Bill and Geezer. And we realized then that we need to do something that is different to what a lot of other people were doing. And that’s sort of where it started, jamming around. The first one was "Wicked World", and the second song we did was "Black Sabbath". And that was the benchmark of where we went from. As soon as we’ve done that – that’s it, this is where it’s gonna go from here.”

Did you learn anything from Ian Anderson from time in Jethro Tull in terms of putting the band together?

“Yes, I did actually. I learned the way they work and it was very different from the way we worked. It was – nine o’clock in the morning, rehearsal. Well, we didn’t know what nine o’clock was… So I come back going to the others, ‘Nine o’clock, we’re gonna start work.’ And I was the only one that could drive then, so I had to pick everybody up to go to the rehearsal. Which was… I cut my own throat there. So that’s what we did. We got into this regime and they were willing to do it. Because I’ve been with Jethro Tull, they knew I had that offer and turned it down.”

Tony also remembered the old days and the time the boys nearly accidentally killed their drummer Bill Ward by painting him gold. 
"The things we've done... When we lived in California, we had a house that we rented off John DuPont, who was famous for DuPont products - you know, the lighters and all that stuff... paint, DuPont paint. It was his house. A fantastic house. It got a ballroom and everything. Anyway, we rented this house for six months and we've done an album there. Of course, we go rummaging around in the garage and there's all these paints in there. And one night, Bill again came back pissed. So me and Ozzy decided to take all of his clothes off, and we got some of the gold paint and we sprayed him gold from head to toe. Honest to god. And not only that. We've got some of this clear lacquer and we've lacquered him off. It was a laugh... And then he started throwing up. And it got really bad. I thought, 'Oh God, what's happened to him?' Anyway, I had to phone the ambulance. And they said, 'What's wrong with him?' I said, 'Well... He's sprayed gold.' They sent an ambulance out... And god, did they tell us off. They said, 'You could have killed him!'. Because apparently, his skin couldn't breathe. It was convulsions, you know?"

Speaking of Sabbath escapades, Tony also remembered the time when Ozzy mysteriously vanished off the face of the planet for a day. He said:

"What happened was we checked in the hotel in Atlanta. It was a high-rise house with the glass lifts on the outside and all that rubbish. We go in there and Ozzy wasn't feeling that great beforehand. He drank a bottle of... Instead of having a spoon, he drank a bottle. So we go to our rooms and he's walking along the corridor. Of course, he sees his room open, he walks in it and passes out on the bed. But it wasn't his room, of course. All his luggage is in his room. Anyway, it was time for the gig and we went to find out if he's ready. No answer. And we sent security up. They opened the door, the bed hasn't been sat on, his luggage is there. We thought, 'Oh, blimey, where is he? Where has he gone?' So we had alerts out, we had police, we had him on the TV every 15 minutes, we had him on the radio every 15 minutes. We thought he had been kidnapped or something. It was really bad. I think we had Van Halen on with us then, they were supporting us. And they've done their spots, and me and Bill and Geezer went down to the gig to say we can't do the gig. Obviously, the fans thought we haven't turned up, but we were there. We just said, 'We can't find Ozzy.' It became quite a worry and we were up all night panicking. 'What happened to him? Somebody bumped him off.' You never know over there. About sort of 9 o'clock in the morning, we had a phone call. 'Hello?'... 'It's Ozzy. What time we leavin'? He'd only lost it by a day. So that was it really."

Tony explained his thoughts about Eddie Van Halen and his guitar skills.

“I couldn’t do what he does. He’s very technical, he does all the tapping. But one time he came over and we got to play together. He wanted to play… He said, ‘We used to play ‘Into the Void.” And we started playing ‘Into the Void.’ And I said ‘No, you’re playing it wrong.’ And he said, ‘I’ve been playing it like this all these years. And, of course, I showed him how to play it. I didn’t ask him how he played any of his because I wouldn’t be able to do it. You know, these relationships we struck up from those tours lasted all these years. He’s one of my best friends. And Brian May, of course. So it was great touring together. And basically they were new on the block, and they learned a lot from us. On the side of the stage every night, watching what to get the crowd going, drum solos and all that. Towards the end of the tour, they were basically doing exactly the same as us. They were doing the guitar solos, then the drum solos. And one night I said to Eddie, ‘Hey Eddie, are you gonna play a couple of tracks off our new album tomorrow?’ And I took him in my room and I said, ‘You can’t be doing the same sort of thing on the same show. When you do your own shows, do it.’ And we’ve been friends ever since then.”,,,, 13 November 2018