Tony Iommi’s autobiography Iron Man came out last year in hardback, and it’s due to be published in a cheaper paperback form this fall. Though there are a number of books about Black Sabbath available, there aren’t too many by one of the band’s members — and most of those books are, unsurprisingly, by lead singer Ozzy Osbourne. So it’s nice to get another viewpoint from the band’s guitarist and co-founding member.
Iommi covers his history from start to finish, with some interesting factoids being served up along the way. You might not guess that jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt had much of an influence on Iommi’s career, at least musically. But Iommi reveals that a friend coaxed him out of his depression following an accident in which the tips of two fingers on Iommi’s right hand were cut off by playing him Reinhardt’s records, pointing out that Reinhardt had also lost use of some fingers due to an injury and yet went on to become an accomplished guitarist. One also learns that the band recorded their contribution to the Heavy Metal soundtrack (“The Mob Rules”) at Tittenhurst Park, John Lennon’s old home, the month Lennon was murdered, rummaging all the gold records and recording gear he’d left behind.
There’s a lot of information. Unfortunately, the book is missing a strong editorial hand and/or co-writer to make the story truly engaging (a co-writing credit is given for a “T.J. Lammers,” though no bio is provided). Iommi’s anecdotes are related in a flat, staccato style, as in this bare bones description of how “Paranoid” was written:
“The others popped out for lunch, and I started playing DadaDadaDadaDada DadaDadaDadaDadada, dudududududududu, Dada da: Paranoid. When the others came back I played to them and they liked it. Geezer came up with the lyrics. I can’t remember if Ozzy had any input in that one.”
The entire book reads like a dry transcript of an interview, with no embellishments and nothing beyond a surface accounting of the events. Which will make it something of a disappointment to fans who were expecting something along the lines of, for example, Keith Richards’ more animated autobiography, Life. A lost opportunity, but Sabbath fans may still find something of interest.