Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi, T.J. Lammers (2011)
Chapter 54. The Mob tours
The Mob Rules tour started in November 1981 in Canada, followed by the States. Then we went back home for four dates at the Hammersmith Odeon starting on New Year’s Eve. We used lots of pyro with fire and bombs, and we had this bloke working for us who dealt with all that stuff. Before the shows we rehearsed in London in a big room behind an Irish pub. At the time there were a lot of IRA bombings in the city. Our pyro guy decided to test a bomb in the rehearsal room. It exploded and everybody left the Irish pub in a panic. It was chaos, absolute chaos. One of our guys was in the pub and he said: ‘I couldn’t believe it, everybody just shot out. Left all the drinks and everything, whoosh, gone!’
Those bombs were really loud. They must have thought, hell, somebody is trying to blow us up! Mad, it was.
My good friend Brian May came down to see me while we were rehearsing. I said to him: ‘Bring your guitar down and we’ll have a little bash.’
He did and when we finished our set me and Brian just carried on playing. We were jamming away and meanwhile the crew gradually removed all the gear. We turned around and there was just one of my speaker cabinets and his amp, and we went: ‘Fucking hell, everything has gone!’
We were totally oblivious to it, because we were enjoying ourselves so much. The pyro guy could’ve set one of his bombs off and Brian and me wouldn’t have noticed!
We played the Hammersmith and the same pyro guy put his bombs underneath the stage. He tested one of them, it went bang and it blew a two-foot-wide hole in the floor on my side. If I’d been there, I would have been blown up. Christ, it was dangerous. The guy was becoming a liability, so in the end we told him: ‘You’re fired!’
No pun intended.
A couple of months later we were doing a show in Madison Square Garden. The guy who worked for me doing all my amps had built these big thick pipes. He maintained that he could put the pyro in these and it would give a real thud. He showed us and it really did. He then put them under the stage at Madison Square Garden and he set them off during ‘War Pigs’. On the first note: ‘Daa …’ it was: ‘Bang!’
The stage leaped and because of the concussion all the tubes went out on my amps and on Geezer’s stack as well. It was just disastrous. We had only done the first note and the lot had gone. We were all right, but we had to stop.
Boom! That was it, the end, thank you and good night!
After a couple of weeks of touring the UK following the Hammersmith shows, we were supposed to go back to America in February.
Then Dad died.
He hadn’t been well for some time. He had emphysema, because he’d been a heavy smoker all his life. I was back at home in England. One night I got a call from my mother. Dad had fallen out of bed. I got on the phone to his doctor and I screamed at him, telling him to get over there. I shot over there myself with Melinda and found Dad on the floor, unconscious and breathing heavily. And then he just gave up and died.
I witnessed him die. It was horrible.
It was a difficult time. We postponed the start of the American tour, but soon I was playing away again, night after night, and travelling all over the place. Working hard … just like Dad had done all his life.