Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi, T.J. Lammers (2011)
Chapter 41. Ecstasy on tour
For the Technical Ecstasy tour we didn’t have a very big production; just musical equipment, a snow machine and dry ice. Nothing fancy, no coming in through the stage or flying in from the rafters. But Bill had this brilliant brainwave of having a big sea shell built behind his drums. It was made out of fibreglass and it was loud, as it projected the sound. And every night he had tons of fresh flowers around his kit as well. He started getting more loony, but the shell was better than his original idea, where he wanted all these tubes around his kit with water going through it, changing colour. He had all these fancy ideas. They were great until you tried to get them to work: impossible.
We started touring America in October. We had acts like Boston, Ted Nugent, Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band supporting us. The shows were all sold out. At the Halloween gig in Denver, Heart opened for us. When we were playing two girls stood on the side of the stage to watch us and Albert threw them off because he thought they were groupies. He said: ‘I fucked them two off. They were on the side of the stage, dancing around.’
I said: ‘That was the other band!’
Linda Blair from the movie The Exorcist came to our gig in New Haven, Connecticut. Ozzy was a bit infatuated with her, probably because he’d seen the movie. Or maybe he identified with her, because in the movie she also peed all over the place.
As a matter of fact, we all were very impressed by Linda once. We went to see The Exorcist at a cinema in Philadelphia a couple of years before and it scared the shit out of us. Back at the hotel we went into the bar to have a drink to calm ourselves down. The television there showed a programme with this priest talking about exorcism. That made it even worse. We got so scared that none of us could sleep, so we spent the night in the same room. Just pathetic.
The bar of our hotel in New Haven had a glass wall behind it, so you could see into the swimming pool. Albert Chapman and me had a few drinks and we got this great idea: ‘Why don’t we go out there and jump in with no clothes on!’
And so we did. It was one of those stick your arse against the window deals. I don’t know what they must’ve thought in the bar. Absolute madness.
When we got out we needed a quick getaway, so we nicked a golf cart that was parked there. Two grown-up naked men in a golf cart driving around the hotel grounds! We made it back to the room, dried off, got dressed and went back into the bar like nothing had happened. Most of the people didn’t even know it was us, because all they’d seen was two arses up against the window.
A pretty picture.
We had met Frank Zappa at a party in New York a couple of years before. He took us all out to a restaurant, telling us how much he liked ‘Snowblind’. It was very kind of him and we became friends. On 6 December we played Madison Square Garden, with Frank introducing the band. He wanted to play as well. We’d put his stuff on stage but we had a really bad night. Frank was waiting to walk on and I thought, he can’t, it’s disastrous, everything is going wrong, my guitar is going out of tune, there’s noise and crackles and God knows what. So I said to him: ‘It would be best if you don’t play, really.’
We got on well with him. In fact later on with Ronnie James Dio I phoned Frank, because Geezer had left. I said: ‘You don’t know any bass players, do you?’
He went: ‘Yeah, you can use mine.’
‘No, we want a bass player that might be with us for a long time.’
Me and Ronnie went over to his house. Frank opened the door with a parrot on his shoulder. He said: ‘Do you want a drink? A soda, ice tea?’
We were thinking more along the lines of a beer.
All he had were the more hippie sort of drinks. We went down to his studio and he said: ‘Can I play you my new album?’
‘Yes, please do.’
I like some of his stuff, like Hot Rats, but when he played me this new album it wasn’t my cup of tea at all. There was so much going on and it was such off-the-wall stuff that I couldn’t absorb it. I thought, well, I don’t want to be rude, what am I going to say to him when it stops? Because he’s going to go: ‘What do you think?’
And he did: ‘What do you think?’
‘Erm … what was that … on the third track … that eh …’
‘Oh, that was …’
He started to explain the whole thing: ‘That’s these drums and …’
And I only went there looking for a bass player!
As a musician I think Frank was very clever, especially at arranging, and his band was tight as shit.
When I went to see them once in Birmingham, he said: ‘I’ve got a surprise for you tonight.’
They played ‘Iron Man’. I was in the bar and I heard them play it and I thought, bloody hell! I went back out and I thought, I’ll thank him after the show. But he had such a bad night that he stormed off stage, really pissed off. So I thought, hmm, I don’t think I’m going to go back. Even so, it was a nice surprise.
It was on this Technical Ecstasy tour that the mysterious ‘Tony’s twin’ was lurking about. This bloke plagued me for many years. Tony’s twin dressed up like me, he had a moustache and he was a guitar player as well. He made his own thimbles and even started marketing them and selling them. He turned up at our hotel all the time and people would think he was me. Eventually it fizzled out, although I heard from this guy again not too long ago through my website. He sent a picture of him playing, but he doesn’t look the same now; he shaved his moustache off and everything. Very peculiar.
There was another bloke who plagued me later on. He claimed to be my son. He was about fifty, so I don’t know how he could possibly be my son, but he insisted he was. He used to find out where I was and phone up. My second wife, Melinda, answered the phone one day and it was him saying: ‘It’s Tony’s son.’
Of course it threw her altogether; she thought I had a son then.
‘What do you mean, you’ve got a son!’
‘I haven’t got a son!’
‘I just spoke to him!’
This guy actually changed his name to Iommi. Some band even made a record about him. It was titled something like ‘Practising To Be Tony Iommi’.