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

Chapter 28. Air Elvis

We started off 1972 with a nineteen-day UK tour with Glenn Cornick’s band Wild Turkey. We had them supporting us, because Patrick Meehan had teamed up with Brian Lane and they managed the band. Lane was the manager of Yes, which was why we had them on the next tour with us: thirty-two shows throughout the States and Canada, starting in March, the Iron Man tour. 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.

On our previous tour one night, Elvis was staying at the same hotel we were at. We would see him come in with all this security and go to the top floor. We were invited to go and see Elvis perform. I had a bird that night, so I said: ‘I’m not going.’

I regretted that afterwards, because I didn’t see his show then and I never would.

On this tour we flew from LA to Vegas and back in a plane that belonged to Elvis. Really strange: all leopard-skin seats in there, very flash. The stewardess on the plane came out with a plate of all different coloured sandwiches. I went: ‘Blimey. What’s this then?’

‘Well, it’s coloured bread.’

‘Ah!’

It must have been something that Elvis liked. But it was a nice plane. We used it, behaved ourselves, left it in one piece as, of course, we were very respectful. I mean, it was Elvis!