It’s the Italian thing - 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 2. It’s the Italian thing

I did get some emotional scars as well. I know Dad didn’t want me, I was an accident. I even heard him say this in one of his screaming moods: ‘I never wanted you anyway!’

And there was a lot of screaming, because my parents used to fight a lot. He’d lose his temper and Mum’d lose hers, because with him the Italian thing would come out and she was very wild anyway and she’d go potty. They’d grab each other’s hair and really seriously fight. When we lived in Bennetts Road I actually saw my mother hit Dad with a bottle and him grabbing her hand trying to defend himself. It was bloody awful, but the next day they’d be talking away like nothing had happened. Really peculiar.

I remember them fighting with the next-door neighbours as well. Mum was in the backyard and there was a wooden fence between us and the neighbours. Apparently one of them said something bad about our family and mother went into a rage. I looked out of my bedroom window and I saw her hanging over the fence hitting the neighbour lady over the head with a broom. And then Dad got involved and so did the woman’s husband and it was a fight over the fence until the fence came down. I saw them screaming and shouting and hitting each other and I just stood there, looking out of my first-floor window, crying.

If I did anything wrong I would cop the brunt of it as well. I was frightened to do anything, always afraid of getting beaten up. But that’s how it was in those days. It happened with a lot of families, people fighting and getting hit. It probably still is that way. Dad and me didn’t get on that well when I was young. I was the kid who was never going to do any good. It was always: ‘Oh, you haven’t got a job like so-and-so has got. He is going to be an accountant and what are you going to do?’

I was belittled by him all the time, and then Mum joined in as well: ‘Yeah, he’s got to get a bloody job or he’s out!’

It is one of the reasons I wanted to be successful, if only to show them.

Growing up and getting older, there came a point where I would not accept getting clipped around the earhole any more. One time I was on the couch and Dad was hitting me, and I grabbed his hands and stopped him. He went mad, almost to the point of crying: ‘You don’t do that to me!’

That was awful. But he never hit me again.

I must have been nine or ten when I saw my grandfather die. He was at home, very ill, when he went unconscious. He was in bed and my job was to watch him to see if he came round. I’d sit there, mopping his face, and Dad would pop in now and again. But I was alone with him when he got the ‘death rattle’. He made this choking, gurgling sound and then he died. I felt really sad but it was also frightening. I saw the family coming in and out and they all seemed a bit afraid as well.

I’ve seen one or two people die since then. About twenty-five years ago this old lady, very well dressed and very well spoken, lived across the road from me. She went by a nickname, Bud; even her daughter called her that. I went over there once a week to see her and then she’d say: ‘Oh, you know, let’s have a brandy.’

One day her daughter came rushing over to my house, screaming: ‘Quick, come over, come over!’

I went over and found Bud passed out on the floor. I lifted her up a bit, took her in my arms and I shouted: ‘Call an ambulance!’

Her daughter ran off, and at that moment Bud died, right there in my arms. It was the same thing: the choking, gurgling sound and … bang. As soon as that happened, it brought me immediately back to my grandfather.

I sat there with her until the ambulance showed up. After that I could smell her perfume everywhere and I could never smell that perfume again. For me it had turned into the smell of death.