Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi, T.J. Lammers (2011)
Chapter 51. Melinda
I met Melinda in a club in Dallas after we played there in the summer of 1980. She was an American who did a little bit of modelling. I started seeing her, we went together for quite a while and she came on the road with us. The band must have thought, what is he doing now? Because she came along to Australia, Japan, New Zealand, just everywhere.
One day when we were in LA, we decided to get married at our hotel, the Sunset Marquis. I was doing Quaaludes and all sorts of bloody stuff, so I was on another planet really. I called up a vicar and said: ‘Can you come over and marry us?’
He did and it was simple: sign these forms and off you go. Then the vicar said: ‘Who’s the witness?’
I said: ‘I haven’t got a witness.’
‘Well, you need a witness.’
There happened to be a big teddy bear in the room and I said: ‘There’s the witness right there.’
He went: ‘All right.’
And that was it. He never said: ‘You can’t do that.’
It actually stood up in court. When it came to the divorce, I said: ‘We didn’t really have a witness.’
They said: ‘Well, who was the witness then?’
‘I had a teddy bear as a witness.’
That went down well. But it didn’t seem to make a difference.
So that was it. We got married at the Sunset Marquis.
After all the tours with Dio we moved back to England. That’s where Melinda gave birth to our beautiful child. Toni was born in 1983. We had some happy times, but then I found out Melinda had problems. She would go to shops and come back with all these dresses with the labels still on them. She wasn’t paying for them and I still don’t know why. It wasn’t a lack of money, I was really embarrassed because I knew people in the shops. Perhaps she thought I would pick up all the bills. Of course it put a strain on the marriage: we had a lot of rows. She would fly off the handle and get really nasty. In the end she went back to Dallas with Toni. When we were splitting up my accountant phoned me from London and said: ‘What the fuck is going on? I’ve got $100,000 worth of bills on your American Express Card, and I’ve got this other bill on your MasterCard. How much money could you be spending in a month?’
‘What are you talking about? I don’t spend that sort of money!’
‘Well, somebody does!’
It turned out that Melinda did this deal with the limousine company, where she had a twenty-four-hour bodyguard and a twenty-four-hour limo. She must have thought I was going to murder her or something. I don’t know how she did it, because she wasn’t a co-signatory on my card, but I got these enormous bills and I had a huge problem: I had to pay up. And that was the end of that.
The English courts didn’t want to know either, because Melinda refused to come over from America. They said: ‘Maybe if you can get her back here …’
It took me a long time to get a divorce. Her side just made it as difficult as possible, trying to get more money. I had lawyers coming over from America and going through all my accounts. Strange as it may seem, it was my responsibility to put all these people up when they came over, and they wanted to stay at, like, the fucking Ritz in London. The bills these people ran up were unbelievable. And it was just dragging on and on, because they were convinced I was hiding a lot of money. They were thinking, he’s got billions tucked away. As they do. It was a bloody nightmare. It was a terrible relationship for our daughter, Toni, as well.
Melinda had her mum in Dallas looking after her much of the time.
A really weird situation. I never actually met Melinda’s mother, but she was apparently a nice woman and she didn’t agree with any of what was going on.
I wasn’t allowed to see my daughter, because for some reason I was the asshole in this whole thing. After a long while they finally said it was okay for me to see her, but only in Dallas or Los Angeles. I couldn’t take her anywhere. That door was closed shut.
Years later I got a phone call from the children’s protection thing in America, saying that Toni had been removed from home. The neighbours had complained and the people from child welfare had gone around there and found that she was basically living in a slum. I thought, what am I going to do? I want to get her here! But I wasn’t allowed to take Toni out. I had to go through a court case over there again to get her.
It broke my heart, but it would be years before Toni was allowed to come home.