Tony Iommi Recounts More Pranks From The Early Sabbath Days
In a recent interview with Mel Bradman of the U.K.'s Times Online, BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi, 58, recalled
the outrageous practical jokes he has played on his bandmates, and their often near-fatal consequences:
"I'd been a prankster from school days, and it carried on into the band. Bill Ward, our drummer, took the brunt of the
jokes. If I didn't play him up he'd say: 'Are you okay? You haven't done anything to me today.' He loved it, though
maybe not everything we did to him.
"In 1973 we went to record an album in Beverly Hills. We rented John DuPont's house [heir to the DuPont chemicals
fortune]. It was a lovely place — ballroom and everything. We went rummaging around and found this gold spray paint in
the garage. I thought: 'We'll get Bill with that.' We waited until he'd had a few drinks and was out of it, took all
his clothes off, then sprayed him gold from head to toe. Then we found this tin of lacquer and lacquered him. He was
violently ill when he came round.
"So we phoned an ambulance. You can imagine what they thought when they arrived — seeing this bloke lying there, naked
and sprayed gold. They asked us if we realised what we'd done, and said we could have killed him by blocking up all
his pores. They were really pissed off. They gave him a shot of something to sort him out and told us to clean him up.
So we went back in the garage and found some paint stripper. His skin went this horrible red, really sore. We laughed
about it the next day, but God, it wasn't funny on the night.
"Because I used to be the only one who could drive, it was up to me to take the band to and from gigs. But driving
them home got boring, because everyone would fall asleep. One night I found this road in Birmingham that looked
identical to the one Ozzy lived on. I decided to drop him off there. I watched him as he got out of van, half asleep,
and tried to get into someone else's house at 4 in the morning. Then I drove off. Ozzy lived about a mile away. I did
the same thing for a few nights before he finally said something. So I left it for a month, then he'd fall for it
"On a flight once Bill's language was particularly colourful. The woman sitting in front of him turned round and said:
'Wash your mouth out with soap.' So he went into the toilet, chewed this bar of soap, and came back foaming at the
mouth. 'Is that all right?' he asked her. Another time, driving across the desert in the States, we came across a
wooden shack that had 'Fireworks' written on the door. Ozzy went in and bought all the fireworks in the shop. That
night, after we'd all gone to bed in our hotel — it was newly refurbished — I woke to see smoke coming under my door.
I looked through the peephole and saw Ozzy at the end of the corridor, letting off rockets. He caused so much damage.
The police came, but he didn't stop. He was totally out of it, still shooting the rockets. The sprinklers came on and
all the guests ran down to the lobby in their pyjamas, thinking there was a fire. The police arrested Ozzy. They told
me if we wanted him out, I'd have to go to the station and bail him out. I told them to keep him for the night. I
wanted to get some sleep.
"I've known Ozzy since I was 11, from school, and he hasn't changed. He still calls me at the most peculiar times — at
3 in the morning when I'm asleep — and leaves silly messages. A lot of people ask me what it's like seeing him in his
TV show, and I tell them that now they can see what I've had to put up with for 40 years.
"But you've got to have fun as a band. If you don't, you'll explode. You need some kind of release. A lot of the
things that went on were day-to-day occurrences — another day, another joke. This is just a taster of what went on.
But this band is like a brotherhood. We have our ups and downs, but we try to make whatever we do enjoyable. We're
lucky, at our age, to still be able to do this. It's fantastic. Especially since we've stopped drinking and can do it
all without falling over."
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