The mysterious case of the lofty lodgers - Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi, T.J. Lammers 

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

Chapter 59. The mysterious case of the lofty lodgers

After finishing the Born Again tour I rented a house in Bel Air. It was a wonderful place, but I heard these noises all the time, people talking and bumps in the night. I’d look around the house but nobody would be there.

‘Blimey, where does that come from?’

Weird things happened. I came back one night from rehearsal, walked into the kitchen and found a plait of hair on the kitchen table, a couple of feet long. Like a ponytail.

‘How did that get there?’

Another night I came home and found the same sort of thing wrapped around the handle of the front door. I couldn’t explain it.

I could never figure out the sound of people talking in the house. I called the Bel Air police every time I heard it. At first they’d go around the house: nothing. But they never checked the loft. And after a while they’d come around and go: ‘Oh, it’s him again.’

I got so concerned about it that I even stayed down at my friend’s house a couple of times. He had a bloody armoury there. He had revolvers and pump-action shotguns and, just like in the movies, a little gun in a book. He said: ‘I’ll come up with you and we’ll have a look. I’ll bring my gun.’

And so he did. He sat there in the lounge all night. Nothing happened. I thought, he thinks I am loony now. He left and the next day it started again.

I then hired a security guard. The sauna overlooked the swimming pool, so I put him in there. I said: ‘If you see anything, let me know.’

After a while he got fed up and said: ‘Hey, man, I can’t stay here all night!’

I whispered: ‘Shhhh, we’re trying to catch somebody!’

I was going to extremes to find out who these people were. After the security guy left, I had one of the crew stay with me, but he would be snoring away so loudly that he couldn’t hear anything. Finally, Mark gave me a Magnum. I slept with this huge gun in my hand. One night I heard this horrendous noise. I grabbed Mark’s gun and I dashed to the car with no shirt on and as I drove out I looked back and I saw all these faces in the kitchen window, looking out at me. It freaked me out. I drove straight down to the police, they came up and: nothing. Gone!

Then I found out that the wires of the burglar alarm had been cut inside the house. I should have moved out really, but then I had Geoff Nicholls to stay with me. I just wanted somebody to see something, if only to prove that I was not crazy. I really thought I was going loopy and so did everybody else.

One night Geoff and me were in the lounge at two o’clock in the morning and we saw this bloke running across the lawn.

Fucking hell, finally!

I got my gun and we opened the door slowly. We slipped out and crawled across the grass. The house was built on a hill and we could hear talking down below. I whispered to Geoff: ‘All right, we’ve got a gun and when they come up . . .’

We must have been lying there for about an hour waiting for these people to appear, and then the sprinklers came on. It was like a Laurel and Hardy skit, both of us going: ‘Waah!’

We were soaked and, of course, after that we never found them. But at least Geoff had seen somebody as well. It wasn’t just me any more.

One night a guy from the crew built this trap in the garden. He made all these zigzags of wire all across the yard and it took him all day to do it. The idea was that if somebody came across he’d get stuck in it and I would be able to see him.

I heard a noise. I called the police. They came over. And then they got stuck in it.

I went out with my gun and the police were going: ‘Drop the gun, drop the gun!’

‘No, no, I live here!’

‘Drop the gun!’

They could have shot me. I could have shot them as well, come to think of it.

This thing went on for months. Eventually we found a trapdoor. Upstairs there was a cinema room with a big screen. In the wall there was a cutout, and because it was all papered you couldn’t really see it. We opened this thing, stepped through it, and we could walk all around the house. It was quite a big area; you could virtually stand up there. We found all these piles of cigarette butts and beer cans outside the vents, through which you could look into the rooms. They had obviously been sitting there, seeing everything I did. Fucking hell, they could probably tell a few stories.

I was relieved that we found that somebody had been there and that the police could finally see that as well. They never found out who it was. They said afterwards that the easiest thing for me would have been to get a dog. With a dog I’d have found them in no time. Now why the hell didn’t I think of that?

It made me so paranoid that I eventually moved into a hotel. The first thing I did there was tape all the vents up. I just had a terrible fear of it, so there I was, roasting at the hotel. Even now I’ve got cameras around my house everywhere; I’ve got the gates and the dogs. And it’s all down to that experience.