Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi, T.J. Lammers (2011)

Chapter 9. Job-hopping into nowhere

After leaving school I was expected to join the workforce. The first job I got was through a friend of Dad’s who owned a plumbing company. It was on a building site and I lasted no time at all. I couldn’t handle it because I don’t like heights.

My next big career move was getting a job treadmilling, which was making those rings that have a screw on them and if you put them around a rubber pipe and you tighten them, they close up on it. It was piecework, so you got so much for however many you did, but you cut your hands to pieces doing it. I thought, I have to play with these! So I got out of there in a hurry as well.

I then got a job at this big music shop called Yardley’s in the centre of town. All the musicians met each other there, and the people who served them were playing away to show them how everything worked. I thought that’s what I’d be doing: ‘This is how this guitar works, this is the sound it’s got.’

But instead they had me getting all of the stuff out of the windows, cleaning all the drum kits, putting them back, cleaning the guitars, putting them back, and I thought, hang on, when can I sit and play? Then they had a burglary and they thought I was involved, because I was the new one there. They interrogated me and remained suspicious until they finally found who actually did it. I didn’t like what they had me doing, because all I did was menial tasks, and I didn’t like what had happened. So again I went and got another job.

Me quitting all these jobs didn’t go down at all well with my parents. They would both have a go at me: ‘When are you going to get a proper job instead of this playing the guitar thing!?’

After working at Yardley’s I got the welding job that cost me my fingers. And after my hand healed I got a job at B&D Typewriters. They taught me to drive and they gave me a van. I had to wear a suit and go to offices and service the typewriters on the spot. When I repaired stuff there’d be screws everywhere: where’s the screw for this and where’s that bit, oh no, little screws from here and there, oh my God!

But I really liked it, because I met a lot of girls that way. As long as I was repairing their typewriters they couldn’t work and they’d be chatting away, so I had no option but to chat them up. That actually backfired on me, because girls were phoning our office saying their typewriter had broken again. So the gov’nor would say: ‘You were only there a couple of days ago, I thought you repaired it!’

‘I did!’

‘Well, they want you back because there’s something not working on it, so get over there.’

I’d find out there was nothing wrong with the typewriters, but because I had been chatting them up these girls thought I was going to ask them out. It was fun. It ended because I was getting too many gigs with The Rest and came in late too often, so it was not working out any more.

And after that I never had another job.