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

Chapter 79. Belching after a Weenie Roast

In February 2000 we got our first Grammy, for Best Metal Performance for ‘Iron Man’ from 1998’s Reunion album. I thought, bloody hell, all those years of making music and we get nothing, and when we finally do get a Grammy it’s for the live thing! A year or two later we got a nomination for another one, for ‘The Wizard’. I don’t really remember why that was nominated, but, then again, I never knew why the first one was either.

Apart from getting a Grammy, 2000 was rather uneventful. In June we had a one-off show at the KROQ Weeny Roast Festival at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. Sharon got in touch with us and said it would be a great gig to do. We would be surprise guests, performing after Ozzy’s show.

It was definitely a surprise. Ozzy had played his set, and then the revolving stage was supposed to turn and we’d be there and we’d start playing. Throughout the whole day I thought, this is really silly, it’s going to be such a quick changeover. How are we going to pull that off?

The stage turned around and I started the riff for ‘War Pigs’, the big note, but nothing happened. As the stage turned all my cables were ripped out of my amps and all the power went. My guitar tech nearly had a heart attack, going: ‘Ooh, what do we do, what do we do!’

It was so embarrassing standing there like a couple of dicks. The audience, who didn’t expect us to be playing anyway, was probably thinking, who’s that lot there then? After what seemed like an eternity, they wheeled on these two speaker cabinets and Zakk Wylde’s Marshall amp, just so we could play. We were only going to do twenty minutes anyway and we spent half that time pissing around. We came off that show and we had another one like that to do in New York. I said to Sharon: ‘There’s no way I’m going to do that.’

She went: ‘Well, no, whatever you want...’

I was so embarrassed I couldn’t talk to anybody for days after that. I just hid at the Sunset Marquis hotel and kept out of the way.

Back home in England I found some comic relief with Bev Bevan and Jasper Carrott. We’d been friends for years and we talked about doing this band thing as a bit of a laugh. They had done a couple of things and they asked me if I’d join. I said: ‘Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun.’

Jasper came up with the name Belch. It’s the B from Black Sabbath, the E and the L from ELO and the C from Carrott. Jasper is a comedian and in Belch he was the singer.

Phil Tree was our bass player and Phil Ackrill played rhythm guitar. Phil Tree now plays with Bev Bevan in The Move. It was great fun, I really enjoyed that. Belch was a pop band: we played anything from ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ to Tina Turner or Dire Straits to ‘All Right Now’. We rehearsed at Jasper’s house. The idea was just to play at one of our friend’s parties, but what was supposed to be a lark turned into paying gigs. I didn’t think we were good enough to be paid, but it started to become serious. We did one gig in Doncaster, a hundred miles from Birmingham, and it was just like the old days. We were all going in Jasper’s estate car and we broke down on the motorway. None of us was used to that any more, because we always had people working for us to sort this stuff out. So we were looking at each other, going: ‘What do we do now?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Christ! We’ve still got a long way to go!’

Jasper phoned this bloke who worked for him and he arranged for a car to come and pick us up, take us up to the gig and then bring us back afterwards. We finally got to this gig and there was wine, champagne, the works; it was a real big, flash do. We played a little set and then guzzled bottles of champagne.

On the way home we had to stop every twenty minutes because we were all throwing up as we’d drunk so much so quickly. Eventually we all got back to Jasper’s drive and everybody fell out of the car going: ‘Bleeehhrghgh!’

It was like forty years ago, only with grown men.

We did a few gigs and we had requests for a lot more. Jasper had a weekly TV show and we even played on that, doing ‘Route 66’ and a song by Status Quo. And we had Belch T-shirts as well, really naff ones. But Jasper got too busy doing his comedy shows. He owned a big part of the television production company Celador, and he went on to do Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The other band members got too busy as well. We didn’t break up as such; we just didn’t have the time to do it any more. But who knows? Maybe we’ll do it again someday.

Just for a laugh.