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

Chapter 85. This is for peace

Towards the end of 2006 I was invited to work with Zemlyane, this Russian band that played the Kremlin. It was their anniversary and they wanted to do ‘Heaven And Hell’ and ‘Paranoid’. I said: ‘I’ll just do “Paranoid”.’

I just wanted to do something short because I didn’t know who the bloody hell they were, but they’re quite big in Russia and they offered me a fee I couldn’t refuse. Actually, they offered an initial fee and I said to Ralph: ‘I don’t particularly want to do it. Just double it.’

He doubled it and they said: ‘Okay.’

So I flew out there. Tony Martin and Glenn Hughes were on as well, and so were Rick Wakeman and his son, Adam, and Bonnie Tyler. The night I got in, the promoter took me out to eat and the amount of drink was lethal. It was all, have another shot of this and a shot of that and fill up and another salute to whoever. After just a few of them I thought, fucking hell, if I did this for a couple of days I wouldn’t survive. I was absolutely legless. I said: ‘I’ve just got to go to bed. I’m playing tomorrow! I’m going.’

They said: ‘That’s an insult, you know!’

Oh shit, here we go. And normally I don’t drink shots at all.

‘No, no. Have another one!’

I did. And I didn’t feel all that stunning the next day.

Before the show I was sitting on my own in the dressing room; there was a knock on the door and this army walked in. About twenty people, with lots of photographers and cameramen and bodyguards – it was absolutely mad. Somebody pinned a medal on me and said: ‘This is for peace.’

He shook my hand for the cameras and left.

Shoof – as soon as they’d come in, they’d gone.

And that was it.

What happened?

I never found out who it was. For all I know it was Putin himself.

Then I did the gig. There were only very wealthy people there, obviously all connected with the government, and they were all dressed up. It was in a small theatre that probably only held 200 people, right there in the Kremlin. To play a gig like that was ever so weird.

I saw Tony Martin there for the first time since the end of the Forbidden tour, back in 1995. He went on and sang ‘Headless Cross’. It was all right seeing him there, first at the show and then later at the restaurant.

That restaurant was another matter. They had closed it for regular customers, so it became a private thing for the people connected to the show. We went for lunch there, me, my guitar tech, my assistant and one of the people from the promoter’s office. Apart from us, the place was completely empty. I asked for the wine list and I picked this expensive wine. They brought a bottle of it, poured it, I had a sip and I said to the bloke: ‘This wine is off.’

The head waiter came up and said: ‘What’s the problem with the wine?’

‘It’s off.’

The look on his face, he was so pissed off!

‘It’s not off. It can’t be off!’

But it was. They probably weren’t used to people spending that sort of money on a bottle of wine. Then they brought another one.

That was off as well.

I said to the promoter bloke: ‘I can’t believe it. But don’t say anything. Just leave it. Because the look they gave me the first time!’

And the waiters probably thought, he’s only had one sip of it . . . extravagant!