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

Chapter 24. Flying fish

In February 1971 we started our second tour of America. It was great, also thanks to our friends from Mountain. They were a good band, they treated us well and they had plenty of drugs. I really liked their guitar player, Leslie West. Still do. I once said to him: ‘I really like the sound you’re getting, I love the guitar.’

He looked and found me a Gibson that was the same as his. He came over to England and gave it to me. But it was stolen. You have a break for a while and your guitars go into storage somewhere. I had about four guitars go from storage once, and that was one of them. Leslie’s guitar going: that broke my heart.

It was on this tour that we first stayed at the Los Angeles Hyatt, better known as the ‘Riot’, where we met our first groupies. We didn’t really know about that. In Europe the women weren’t as forward as in America. As soon as we walked into reception at the Hyatt these girls came up to us, saying: ‘How are you? Are you from England?’

Before we knew it, everybody had a girl. We couldn’t believe it. ‘Blimey! Is this what America is like?’

And then, later, you’d see them again, with somebody else. We were like: ‘So, that’s what they call a groupie!’

In Seattle we stayed at the infamous Edgewater hotel, where you could fish out of the window. The hotel was built on stilts and leaned over the water. You could get a fishing line at reception, so that you could fish out of the window. And that’s what we used to do. I don’t know why really. Ozzy was fishing out of the window once and caught a shark, which he put in the bath while we did the gig. Of course it died, because the thing was as long as the bath and sharks have to move to breathe. Ozzy then proceeded to cut it up. Blood and shit were everywhere. He tried to . . . I don’t know what he was doing.

Bill was below my room and he had his window open. I caught this shark, it dangled on my line and I swung it into Bill’s room. He was very surprised. Not pleasantly, but very surprised! To have a bloody shark come flying through your window: ‘Ahhhh!’

He threw it out of the window back into the sea, but the room smelled of fish from then on. Actually, all the rooms smelled of fish. You couldn’t wash the floor down or anything, it was all carpeted. I don’t know what they expected their guests to do with the fish they caught.

Another time we tied the line to one of the standard lamps there. We left, came back later and the standard lamp was gone. Gone out the window! So we picked up the bill for that one.

During the last tour we did with Sabbath, when we were in Seattle me and Bill went down to the Edgewater again, just for old time’s sake. They showed us around: there was a Zeppelin room and they were doing a Sabbath room as well.

In the early days there were only certain hotels that allowed bands in, because of the reputation that everybody had. But now we stay all the time at the Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons, the top hotels. And at sixty-plus years old we don’t throw televisions out of windows any more.

Can’t pick ’em up now.