Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi, T.J. Lammers (2011)
Chapter 55. A Munster in the mix
The Mob Rules tour went smoothly and we all got along well, although there was all this talk about Ronnie planning to do a solo album. That didn’t really sit well with Geezer and me. We heard he was doing rehearsals with a solo band and we thought, what the hell is going on?
We recorded a lot of the American dates for what was to become Black Sabbath’s first official live album, but the whole project turned into a bloody nightmare. We were in LA at the Record Plant again. We had this bloke called Lee De Carlo doing the engineering and the mixing for us. His sister was Yvonne De Carlo, the actress who played Lily Munster in The Munsters. We went ahead mixing this live album and then it started: me, Geezer and Ronnie would leave the studio and when we came back the next day it would sound different. Lee would never say anything. We would put it right, come back the next day and it would be different again! Lee eventually broke down. It was driving him mad, he was drinking more and more Scotch, and he finally said: ‘I’ve got to tell you, you’re going away at night and then Ronnie comes in and alters everything.’
‘No. I don’t know what to say. I’m in a terrible position here.’
‘Why didn’t you tell us all this was going on?’
‘I didn’t know what to do!’
Ronnie has always denied that he did this, but that’s what Lee said. How true that was I don’t know – it’s only his word – but we believed it at that time. We hit the roof and we had a big blow-up in the studio. We stopped Ronnie coming down there and that was the end of it. Ronnie said: ‘I’m off.’
He went, and Vinny went with him. We broke up there and then.
Me and Geezer carried on and finished the record. Live Evil was released at the end of 1982, beginning of 1983. It did pretty well, considering everything and the fact that the band had broken up by then.
Amazingly, Ozzy put out a live album as well around the same time. Where Live Evil had songs from Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, with some older Black Sabbath stuff, Speak of the Devil, Ozzy’s album, was all re-recorded Sabbath songs with none of his solo stuff. I was unpleasantly surprised that he just did the old set. It still surprises me to this day: he goes out and does ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Paranoid’ all the time, even though he’s got a great repertoire of all of the songs he’s done on his own. I think putting out the live album like that was down to Sharon, trying to put the cat among the pigeons.
After Ronnie and Vinny left, I called up David Coverdale and Cozy Powell to see if they would be interested in joining us. Coverdale’s words were: ‘Ah, bollocks, I just signed a deal with Geffen Records to do a Whitesnake album.’
Cozy was with Whitesnake as well, so that was those two taken care of.
Me and Geezer had to rethink the whole thing. We had a million tapes sent in from different singers and most of them were horrible. One of them was from Michael Bolton. I didn’t know him at the time. We had Michael come in and we had him sing ‘Heaven and Hell’, ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Neon Knights’. He was quite good, but he wasn’t exactly what we were looking for then. We dropped a bollock there, didn’t we? Michael Bolton! A little bit of a mistake.
It was hard to find somebody who was going to fit the bill, to sing the Ozzy and the Ronnie stuff. But an unlikely lad was lurking around the corner, and soon we’d be reborn . . .