Like as for many of my friends it was “Paranoid” that caught my attention and which put Black Sabbath on my Radar Screen. But there were two other songs which back then laid the foundation to which is now something that goes beyond just being a fan of the band – those songs were “The Wizard” and “Iron Man”. The latter one is the title of Tony Iommi’s autobiography, accompanied by the tagline “My journey through heaven and hell with Black Sabbath”.
My youngest stepdaughter surprised me last Christmas with the book and I read it the next day. I thought that was perfectly appropriate literature for Christmas day and well, it’s an easy read. However, one thing wasn’t easy at all: keeping track of the army of drummers that joined the band (and left, and joined again, and left..etc.) after Bill Ward dropped out. To me it’s not that big of a deal as I am not really interested that much in the post Ozzy era. I said it before and I will say it again, to me there is only one Black Sabbath and that’s the original lineup with the four guys. It’s not that I don’t like a Vinnie Appice or a Ronnie James Dio – but the founding members had something magical going on and the sound they produced is just so special. At least in my opinion. But I digress.
The Tony Iommi Book Review
As I said it’s not Kafka which is good. There are plenty of interesting stories of Tony’s childhood – I think his upbringing and the environment he was surrounded by had a major influence on his personal approach of playing the guitar. He’s a riff guy. At one point in the book he states that he’s not capable of re-playing a solo note by note unlike his good friend Brian May. However, there is an unlimited supply of riffs in his head.
Of course, he tells the reader in detail about the ominous accident while working in a factory when a machine cut off the tips or his middle and ring finger on his right hand, which is obviously his playing hand. And that happened on his last day on the job, which is just unbelievable.
Tony also talks about the time before Black Sabbath was eventually formed and his engagement with Polka Tulk and Mythology. He then provides plenty of funny and incredible anecdotes of the early days with Black Sabbath. What amazed me the most is how naïve and oblivious the four guys were back in the day when all started. But for those of you who actually prefer the more recent work of the band, don’t worry, the book is filled with tons of information around that time, too, even though and as I mentioned before, I had a little bit of a hard time keeping track of who was in the band and who had left.
In addition to that, I learned that Tony actually believes in God and had some outer body experiences – who knew. He also emphasizes over and over that neither him nor the band ever had any interested in black magic, Satanism or all the other nonsense that the media and some fans for some reason always tried get them associated with. Of course, I had read and heard all four of them talking about this topic numerous times and they were always trying to make it clear that they never really understood the whole thing and actually thought it was kind of funny. I personally never understood that either. Black Sabbath to me was and always be a prime hard rock band. I’m confident to say that I know most of their lyrics of the early albums by heart – and I have absolutely no idea where people got the idea from that the group was worshipping Mr. Lucifer. But anyway, people like to form opinions and once they are formed, it’s hard to convince them that they are just wrong.
Drugs, yes, there was obviously plenty of them. Tony makes it pretty clear that all of them were heavily involved in all kinds of substances, but I guess it’s no surprise that obviously Ozzy and Bill took things over the top and things got out of control.
What I like about the book is that Tony isn’t complaining or trying to blame others for his “journey through heaven and hell with Black Sabbath”. He takes ownership -and gives due credit to others – for the band’s success, but also its not so glory episodes. I actually expected Tony to lash out at Ozzy, especially in light of the 2010 lawsuit over the band name. But he didn’t do that which was a very wise decision I think.
The “Tony Iommi book” is believable and authentic; at least that’s my impression. As I said, it is filled with interesting stories, some will make you laugh and other will make you shake your head. And sometimes you will do both at the same time. Example: Tony learns how to play piano while being on coke – in three days!
Needless to say that I’m biased. Tony is one of my guitar heroes, probably my all time favorite hard rock guitarist. Of course I will recommend this book to you. But even if I try to be a little bit more objective, I will guarantee you that you won’t get disappointed. This is first hand information, no fabricated nonsense. It’s an honest book, it is matter of fact, at times a little edgy and raw, just like Tony’s playing. Tony Iommi became the Iron Man and he can take full credit for forming Black Sabbath and keeping in alive even when the odds were against him.
If you are interested in purchasing Tony Iommi’s autobiography, here is a link to the GuitarShop.