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

Chapter 71. In harmony with Cross Purposes

I returned home and my first thought was to get a band together again. We auditioned some British drummers, but none of them worked out. At a certain point Bobby Rondinelli, who had played with Rainbow, called me. He wanted to do it. I suppose it’s the old thing: if you don’t call, you don’t get anywhere. Fair dues to him, he got in touch and it got him the job. He flew over and as soon as he started playing, that was it. He was a similar drummer to Vinny, very precise. He fitted in personality-wise as well.

We didn’t look around for other singers, we simply asked Tony Martin back again. He got screwed around so many times by us really, but he was good enough to hang in there. As soon as Bobby came in we started writing the songs for our next album, Cross Purposes. So it was me, Tony, Geezer, Bobby and Geoff, and it went really well. We finished writing the new songs in the summer of 1993.

Leif Mases helping us out with ‘Time Machine’ for the Wayne’s World soundtrack had been a good experience, so this time we asked him to produce the whole of Cross Purposes. He was good to work with and the recording went smoothly. Songs like ‘Virtual Death’, a heavy, powerful riff, and ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ were joint efforts between me and Geezer, who came up with more and more ideas. And ‘Cardinal Sin’ was a song about a Catholic priest from Ireland, who hid his love child for twenty-one years. That would be a very topical song now, with all the stuff that’s been going on quite recently.

‘Evil Eye’ was a track we were working on when Van Halen were playing the NEC in Birmingham. Eddie got in touch with me and I said: ‘We’re rehearsing. We’re writing a new album.’

He wanted to get together, so I picked him up from the hotel in Birmingham and we drove down to Henley-in-Arden where we rehearsed. We got him a guitar from the music shop, one of his models, had a jam and he played on ‘Evil Eye’. I played the riff and he played a great solo over it. Unfortunately we didn’t record it properly on our little tape player so I never got a chance to hear it!

That was a funny day. Eddie said: ‘Don’t you want any beers? Can I pick some beers up?’

I couldn’t drink because I had to drive him back to the hotel, but we picked up a case of beer, got to the rehearsal place and he was legless by the time we left. But it was great to see him, and it was great he came over to have a play. Having a jam with Eddie and letting go a bit, it gave everybody a boost.

The album was released in the beginning of 1994. In the sleeve notes I gave a big thanks to ‘all at the Modesto County Jail for the kind hospitality and making me realize that there’s no place like home’.

Even though Cross Purposes wasn’t a huge seller, it did all right. For once I.R.S. were getting behind it; they were even doing advertisements for it on MTV. It was with renewed confidence that we embarked on another world tour.

Motörhead supported us in America. Their singer, Lemmy, is a real character.

Of course, there’s no food on their rider at all, only booze. You walk past their dressing room and there’s nothing to eat, but there is all this wine and Jack Daniel’s and beer. They are the epitome of rock ’n’ roll. It just goes on and on and on with them. I’ll never forget seeing their guitar player, Phil Campbell, at the side of the stage once. He threw up, and the next minute he was on stage, playing away. Cor blimey, how do they do that? How do they cope with that? Their bodies must be indestructible.

Lemmy is probably going to die on stage. I certainly don’t see him settling down in some old people’s home. He used to go on their tour bus and he’d get off in the same clothes the next day, on stage as well, come off . . . Motörhead, they just live like gypsies really.

One funny story I heard about Lemmy: he was playing away and he said to his monitor guy: ‘Can you hear this horrible sound coming out of my monitors?’

The bloke said: ‘No.’

And Lemmy went: ‘Neither can I. Turn me up!’

The last tour we did with Dio, we had them on one of the shows with us. Lemmy came up to me and said: ‘How are you enjoying the tour?’

I said: ‘Oh, I really like it. It’s great that we’ve all known each other so long and we’re all around the same age.’

And he said: ‘Yeah, and we all know the same dead people as well.’

I was thinking, he’s hit it on the head. Blimey, he’s right!

Tony Martin had a fabulous voice, but we were always on to him about his performance. He was very amateurish as far as that was concerned. Overnight he went from working only local little venues in Birmingham to big stages everywhere. It was a difficult position to be in, to have to front a band that everybody knows from great performers like Ozzy and Ronnie. It was a bit much for him and, just like Ray Gillen when he joined us, Tony got carried away with it. His head got a bit bigger. We were playing in Europe somewhere and Tony had this portable video player. He was at the bar of the hotel showing these people a video of himself performing with us: ‘Look, that’s me up there!’

Very unprofessional: you just don’t do stuff like that. Albert Chapman, who was managing him at the time, was livid. He said: ‘Put that fucking thing away!’

And then he suddenly started going under the name of Tony ‘Cat’ Martin. Where did this ‘Cat’ come from all of a sudden? He did these things that were just off the wall.

One time in America during the Cross Purposes tour, his lack of stage presence or star quality, or whatever you want to call it, became painfully clear. Right in the middle of the show Tony decided to run along the audience between the stage and the barriers holding the people back in the front. He jumped off the stage to start his run and this security guy grabbed him and tossed him out because he thought he was a fan.

‘But I’m the singer!’

‘Yeah, right.’

Things like that would never happen to Ozzy or Ronnie. But you couldn’t complain about Tony’s voice. That was just great. He’d get on and do the job, and he never missed a show. Tony was a nice guy as well and he stuck with it for ten years.

In April and May we did the UK and Europe with Cathedral and Godspeed. Those two bands travelled together, but they were always fighting. It got worse as the tour went on. You’d see them first with sticking plaster here and there, and next you’d see the bandages come out and one had his arm in a sling. Really peculiar.

In April our gig at the Hammersmith Odeon was recorded and filmed for a video and CD package called Cross Purposes Live, which was released about a year later. I once heard somebody describe it as the most underpromoted release of all time. That’s probably very true, because even I can only vaguely remember it being released.

The final European show turned out to be Bobby Rondinelli’s last gig, because we finished the tour again with a couple of shows in South America and I was talking to Bill and I said: ‘We’re doing South America next.’

He went: ‘I’d love to play South America!’

‘Oh? You want to do it with us then?’

‘Oh, yeah!’

Blimey.

He said: ‘What do you want me to do? Meet you there?’

He didn’t know any of the songs with Tony Martin, so I said: ‘No. You’ve got to come to England and rehearse.’

‘Oh, all right then.’

He came over, we rehearsed and he was great on the old Sabbath stuff, but he struggled a bit on newer songs like ‘Headless Cross’.

It was Geezer, me and Bill, so we had almost the old line-up, plus Tony Martin. Off we went to South America, with Kiss and Slayer on the bill, as well as a few others. We got on stage in front of something like 100,000 people and the pressure was on; we got by but in the end dropped the newer material. In order to keep going we ended up only doing songs like ‘Iron Man’ and ‘War Pigs’, the stuff Bill knew. But fair dues to Tony, he sang those old songs great.

After the tour ended, Geezer went back to Ozzy. Things needed to change. I said: ‘That’s it! I’m getting Neil and Cozy back!’ Within five minutes we were back together again. There might have been some hard feelings because of how things had worked out in the past, but we resolved that. We got back together and started work on the Forbidden album.