Tony Iommi Recalls How Black Sabbath Lost Contact on Tour
Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has explained how the band’s approach to touring changed over the years as the members began to want “their own space” apart from each other, and remembered that his colleagues’ drinking problems meant that he’d end up as the only one in hotel bars.
“We didn’t see each other that much, because everybody had their own space and we’d stay in the [hotel] room,” Iommi said of Sabbath’s farewell tour during a question-answer session at a charity lunch on Apr. 20 (via Blabbermouth). “We'd get [to the hotel] after the show and go to our rooms. So you get to your room, put the TV on, watch something till five o'clock or whatever it might be, and then fall asleep. And then you'd arrange to see each other for breakfast occasionally. But it didn't happen too often. … Everybody wanted their own space. Ozzy [Osbourne] had room service, I had room service, Geezer [Butler] got room service, and before you knew it, we wouldn't see [each other] at all until the following day. We'd do a day on, day off. So you're sitting in your room [and thinking], 'What do I do now?’”
He took to going for walks with a security guard for company. “[N]one of the other guys wanted to go out for a walk," he said. "And I'd be the only one in the bar, because everybody else was recovering alcoholics. That's sort of how it went. Twenty years ago, we'd all be in the bar and talk about the band and what we were gonna do. [That] had all gone. The only time we'd get a chance to talk was on the flights or on stage at the gig. Me and Oz would have a conversation [during] the set on tour … ’What did you do last night?' And there's, like, thirty thousand people out there. But that's the way it had gone.”
Iommi was asked once again about the chances of another Sabbath reunion, replying as he had before that, while there was a small possibility of “one-offs” there was almost no chance of any further large-scale tours. “People think, 'What a great life,' and it is a great life, but it takes its toll on your body,” he said. “All the traveling at different hours of the day and night. You finish a show at 11 o'clock. We'd base ourselves in one place, like New York or wherever we were, and then we'd stay in New York for 10 days, fly out and do a show and fly back in the night. So by the time you get to the hotel, it's four o'clock or five o'clock [in the morning]. And you can't sleep. And that's the difficult part. Even though you travel the best way you can. We had a great plane, we had great hotels – everything was marvelous – but it's still tiring.”
After the lunch, cancer survivor Iommi thanked the participants for helping raise £23,000 for the cancer treatment facility at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, his U.K. home city.