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

Chapter 43. Ozzy goes

After the world tour, the whole band moved to LA for eleven months. Again it was a tax thing, so we thought we’d ship out there, write the next album and record it. But it turned into a highly frustrating, never-ending process.

Don Arden was managing us by then, with his daughter Sharon assisting him. I did a lot of the dealings for the band, so I was in contact a lot with her, talking about where we were going to live, rehearse, record and whatever else.

We all moved into this great house, where we turned the garage into a rehearsal studio. The next move would be to come up with ideas, but that didn’t happen. Again we were doing a lot of coke. Going out partying, and further partying at the house, and then trying to write this stuff; it was hard. But what made it next to impossible was that Ozzy wasn’t into it. He was on another planet. We’d try and motivate him, saying: ‘Any ideas?’

‘No, I can’t think of anything.’

And then he’d pass out on the couch. It was frustrating, because it was going on and on and we were getting nowhere. I’d be going to Warner Bros. Records because they’d want to see the progress, and they’d go: ‘How’s it going?’

‘Oh, great!’

But we had done nothing.

‘How are the tracks sounding?’

‘Oh, really good!’

Bloody hell, what was I supposed to say? ‘We’ve been here for six months and we haven’t done shit’? They didn’t want to hear that. It got more embarrassing every time I went down there.

We’d been there for months and Ozzy hadn’t really sung much at all. We couldn’t have a good conversation with him, because he took more booze and drugs and was pretty much out of it. We’d all be at times, but he was on a totally different level altogether. We could still create, but drugs and drink affect certain people differently. I think Ozzy just lost interest in it all. We had about three ideas down, musically, but we didn’t know where to go next without Ozzy’s input. We’d write a song and then he’d go: ‘I don’t want to sing on it.’ He sang a bit on ‘Children Of The Sea’, and then he sort of fizzled away. It finally got to a point where we said: ‘If Ozzy can’t do it, we’re going to have to either break up or we are going to have to bring somebody else in.’

Ozzy wasn’t yet involved with Sharon then. As a matter of fact, I was involved with her first, but we only had a friend-like relationship. It never was a love relationship. I had to deal with her all the time and I liked her as a person. I said to Sharon: ‘We are having such a problem with Ozzy.’

She went: ‘Oh, give him time.’

I said: ‘We’ve got to get going. The record company is asking us where the music is.’

It got to the crunch and we had to give Ozzy an ultimatum: ‘You have to do something, otherwise we are going to have to replace you.’

And that’s what happened. Bill spoke to him and said: ‘Look, we’re going to have to move on.’

It was sad. We had been together for a decade, but it got to a point where we couldn’t relate to each other any more. There were so many drugs flying around, coke and Quaaludes and Mandrax, and there was booze and late nights and women and everything else. And then you get more paranoid and you think, they hate me. We never fought, but it’s hard to get through to people, to communicate and solve things when everybody’s out of it. For some reason I became the asshole in it all. Ozzy seems to think it was me who pushed it, but I was only speaking on behalf of the band and trying to get the thing going. Somebody had to make a move, somebody had to do something otherwise we’d still be there now and we’d all be out of it. So that was it.

I thought, maybe we should break up and I’ll do something else. It was at that point that Sharon introduced me to Ronnie James Dio at a party. She suggested I should do a separate project and do that with Ronnie. I approached him and said: ‘I’m in a terrible situation. I don’t think it’s going to work out any more with what we got. Would you be interested in doing something else?’