Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath

Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath

4.4 14
by Tony Iommi
     
 

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Iron Man chronicles the story of both pioneering guitarist Tony Iommi and legendary band Black Sabbath, dubbed “The Beatles of heavy metal” by Rolling Stone. Iron Man reveals the man behind the icon yet still captures Iommi’s humor, intelligence, and warmth. He speaks honestly and unflinchingly about his rough-and

Overview

Iron Man chronicles the story of both pioneering guitarist Tony Iommi and legendary band Black Sabbath, dubbed “The Beatles of heavy metal” by Rolling Stone. Iron Man reveals the man behind the icon yet still captures Iommi’s humor, intelligence, and warmth. He speaks honestly and unflinchingly about his rough-and-tumble childhood, the accident that almost ended his career, his failed marriages, personal tragedies, battles with addiction, band mates, famous friends, newfound daughter, and the ups and downs of his life as an artist.

Everything associated with hard rock happened to Black Sabbath first: the drugs, the debauchery, the drinking, the dungeons, the pressure, the pain, the conquests, the company men, the contracts, the combustible drummer, the critics, the comebacks, the singers, the Stonehenge set, the music, the money, the madness, the metal.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While there are other books that offer more detail about the band, lead guitarist and songwriter Iommi’s chronicle is an important addition to the Black Sabbath story. Even early Sabbath detractors recognized that Iommi’s pummeling riffs in songs like “Iron Man” and “War Pigs”—powerfully delivered by lead singer Ozzy Osborne—defined the Sabbath sound. Iommi’s autobiography is as direct as his music, beginning with his description of losing the two middle fingers on his left hand in an industrial press accident as a teenager in the early days of the band, which, he notes, some people credit with creating “the deeper, down-tuned sound” of the band—“I had to reinvent my style of playing to accommodate the pain.” The book’s main virtue is its straightforward, year-by-year account of the band’s history, from early struggles (“When we recorded Paranoid I still lived at home”) through the band’s breakup with Ozzy in 1979 (“There were so many drugs flying around, coke and Quaaludes and Mandrax, and there was booze and late nights and women and everything else”) to Iommi’s post-Ozzy versions of Sabbath and various solo projects. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Surprisingly, the man who invented the heavy-metal riff didn't do it out of creative inspiration but out of prosthetic necessity. Detailing the gruesome accident that resulted in the severing of two fingers on his left hand, Iommi opens his memoir with both graphic description and honesty. It was this event that shaped his style of guitar playing and the sound that was to define Black Sabbath. While much of his memoir details the trials and tribulations of Black Sabbath, Iommi paints an intimate portrait of his own life from childhood to his most recent musical effort in Heaven & Hell. Aided by journalist Lammers, Iommi's narrative voice is evident in each vignette. Unfortunately for Iommi, the book ends in the same way it begins: with another accident, this one involving his right hand. Still, even with two damaged hands, Iommi reminds us that he is one of the greatest guitar legends alive today. VERDICT Another rock 'n' roll memoir rife with addiction and celebrity. Readers who enjoyed Joel McIver's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath will be drawn to Iommi's insider perspective.—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Black Sabbath's founding guitarist recounts the British metal band's chaotic history. Iommi's as-told-to book, co-authored by T.J. Lammers, offers a rote look at his foundational group's story, which practically ended before it began. At 17, the aspiring axe man sliced off two fingertips while operating a machine press. Inspired by the example of gypsy virtuoso Django Reinhardt, who performed brilliantly after his hand was severely burned, Iommi continued to play, with self-fabricated "thimbles" extending his digits. He soon hooked up with three other Birmingham, England, lads--singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward--to form Black Sabbath, whose churning, down-tuned music drew the metal road map. Iommi, the band's resident riff-master and studio obsessive, unimaginatively recalls the band's story album by album and tour by tour, without explicating the group's unique sound, internal chemistry or propensity for provoking public outrage. He's most entertaining when describing the Sabbath's incessant, hazardous prank-playing; much of the "fun" came at the expense of Ward, who was nearly suffocated by a coat of gold spray paint and almost fatally incinerated after Iommi doused him with tape-machine head cleaner and set him ablaze. The guitarist is not wholly unaware of the oft-ludicrous nature of his enterprise: One of the best chapters recalls the building of a massive, misbegotten Stonehenge stage set, which inspired a choice gag in This is Spinal Tap. But he is unable to shed light on the band mates' fraught relationships (exacerbated by drug and alcohol abuse), Sabbath's hellish business affairs or his own chronic cocaine use and failed marriages. Excepting a rich passage about a once-unthinkable 2002 command performance before Queen Elizabeth II, the late going devolves into an unenlightening recap of the band's revolving-door post-Osbourne years, when it was fronted by singers Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan and others, and its latter-day reunion gigs. However, readers do learn that Michael Bolton unsuccessfully auditioned for the position of lead vocalist. As rock bios go, this just isn't heavy enough.
From the Publisher

Publishers Weekly, 6/27
[Tony Iommi is] “the undisputed originator of heavy metal.”

Kirkus Reviews, 10/1/11
“[Iommi is] most entertaining when describing the Sabbath’s incessant, hazardous prank-playing…The guitarist is not wholly unaware of the oft-ludicrous nature of his enterprise.”
 
Publishers Weekly, 10/3/11
“An important addition to the Black Sabbath story…Iommi’s autobiography is as direct as his music.”
 
Booklist, 11/1/11
“This memoir [is] dead certain to appeal to heavy-metal fans of all ages…With plenty of behind-the-scenes stories and fresh perspectives on some of music’s most notorious characters…this is a frank and honest look at a special part of rock history.”
 
RollingStone.com, 10/24/11
“The book recounts all the ups and downs the guitarist experienced with Ozzy Osbourne and company.”
 
Houston Press, 10/20/11“Written in short, easily digestible chapters, Iommi's autobiography is full of revelations and observations of his career…A good read.”

USA Today, 10/31/11
“Iommi has a story that needs to be told…Iommi tells his story simply and chronologically, making it easy for anyone to slip into the fast-paced tale. And yes, while there are plenty of drug-fueled antics, there's no doubt the focus is on the music here, as it should be…Iommi emerges from Iron Man seeming like a true trailblazer without sounding immodest or unkind—and I've learned that's quite a feat, especially after reading, say, Motley Crue's The Dirt.”

New York Daily News, 10/28/11
“A raucous autobiography…He brainstormed one of the heaviest and darkest sounds known to man. But Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi makes a surprisingly sweet narrator of his own life.”
 
Ultimateclassicrock.com, 11/1/11
“In his 350+ page autobiography, Iommi leaves no doubt that he is fully deserving of the rock bad boy title but is even more worthy of the Hall of Fame nod…What makes the book stand out, though, is Iommi’s lack of pretense, his insider perspective and surprising sense of humor in telling classic tales…It’s the rare glimpse into the personal perspective of Iommi that makes Iron Man a must-read for music fans.”
 
Blogcritics.com, 11/1/11”A personal look inside one of the most unique bands of the past 40 years.”

 
Library Journal, 11/15/11
“Iommi paints an intimate portrait of his own life from childhood to his most recent musical effort in Heaven & Hell…Readers who enjoyed Joel McIver’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath will be drawn to Iommi’s insider perspective.”

January Magazine, 11/18/11
“When it comes to rocker biographies, the 2011 winner is former Black Sabbath lead guitarist, Tony Iommi’s Iron Man. This is the whole package: Iommi is candid, engaging and celebrated and that’s exactly the right combo for this sort of book. Though it’s Iommi’s autobiography, this is also the story of Black Sabbath, one of the most celebrated and seminal rock outfits of all time. And on this journey we take with him we discover that our wildest imaginings about sixties and seventies rock n’ roller behavior were only scratching the service…Iommi is a likable correspondent and you don’t mind spending time in his presence for the duration of the book. If you only buy one rock biography this season, for so many reasons, it should be this one.”

Gibson.com, 11/11/11
“[A] must-read…It contains some near-unbelievable stories: drugs, the Mafia, knife fights, Iommi setting fire to Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, killing Virgin mogul Richard Branson’s prize carp fish with Sabbath pyrotechnics, that Spinal Tap-inspiring Stonehenge stage set, even auditioning Michael Bolton as Black Sabbath singer (true!)…and, of course, all the guaranteed craziness you’d expect from a band involving Ozzy Osbourne.”

TheNervousBreakdown.com, 11/12/11
“A four hundred page monster of a book, as heavy in places as ‘War Pigs,’ as deep and reflective in others as ‘Planet Caravan.’”

WLKY.com, 11/11/11“In Iron Man, Iommi lays it all bare. Told in an economic, forthright style, the autobiography explores everything one would expect and then some…An enjoyable read and will make a nice holiday gift for the metalheads on your shopping list.”

Rolling Stone, 12/8/11
“There’s good material here.”

Milwaukee Shepherd Express, 11/22/11
Iron Man chronicles a life of ale, drugs and women and a trail of destruction behind every tour.”

Bookviews blog, December 2011
“Fans of the group, Black Sabbath, will enjoy Iron Man.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 12/6/11
“Many books have been written about Black Sabbath, but this one comes from the horse's mouth and sheds light on moments only Tonio was privy to…This certainly needs to be read by any Black Sabbath fan.”
 
Bookgasm.com, 12/2/11
“Reveals the man behind the icon, yet still captures Iommi’s humor, intelligence and warmth.”
 
The Cleveland Sound, 12/11/11
“Fans will revel in the guitarist’s lucid memory and wicked humor—but casual rock readers will likewise enjoy this tale of one unassuming English kid’s improbable rise into to the pantheon of metal godliness, thanks primarily to Iommi’s fairly objective storytelling, charming prose, and keen sense of the absurd…[Iommi is] a raconteur whose words are as endearing as they are informative.” 

Elmore, January/February 2012
“Iommi dishes on a life of heavy music and even heavier times…Dignified and classy, while still spilling plenty of messy musical beans.”

Guitar World, 12/26/11
“One of the top 15 books of 2011.”
 

Midwest Book Review, January 2012
“[Black Sabbath’s] interactions with other famous music personalities and Tony Iommi's perceptions of the music world make this a 'must' for fans of the group and any collection profiling rock music history."

SLUG, March 2012
“Some obscure gems…It has a rapid-fire ‘quick story’ quality…Tony’s delightfully frank…It’s honest, endearing.”

PowerlineMag.com, 6/8/12“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.”

Hudson Valley News, 1/9/13
“A must-read for fans of the heavy metal genre, this memoir is also an inspiring story of a musical group and its leader.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306819551
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, 6/27
[Tony Iommi is] “the undisputed originator of heavy metal.”

Kirkus Reviews, 10/1/11
“[Iommi is] most entertaining when describing the Sabbath’s incessant, hazardous prank-playing…The guitarist is not wholly unaware of the oft-ludicrous nature of his enterprise.” Publishers Weekly, 10/3/11
“An important addition to the Black Sabbath story…Iommi’s autobiography is as direct as his music.” Booklist 11/1/11
“This memoir [is] dead certain to appeal to heavy-metal fans of all ages…With plenty of behind-the-scenes stories and fresh perspectives on some of music’s most notorious characters…this is a frank and honest look at a special part of rock history.” RollingStone.com, 10/24/11“The book recounts all the ups and downs the guitarist experienced with Ozzy Osbourne and company.” Houston Press, 10/20/11“Written in short, easily digestible chapters, Iommi's autobiography is full of revelations and observations of his career…A good read.”

USA Today, 10/31/11
“Iommi has a story that needs to be told…Iommi tells his story simply and chronologically, making it easy for anyone to slip into the fast-paced tale. And yes, while there are plenty of drug-fueled antics, there's no doubt the focus is on the music here, as it should be…Iommi emerges from Iron Man seeming like a true trailblazer without sounding immodest or unkind—and I've learned that's quite a feat, especially after reading, say, Motley Crue's The Dirt.”

New York Daily News, 10/28/11“A raucous autobiography…He brainstormed one of the heaviest and darkest sounds known to man. But Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi makes a surprisingly sweet narrator of his own life.” Ultimateclassicrock.com, 11/1/11 “In his 350+ page autobiography, Iommi leaves no doubt that he is fully deserving of the rock bad boy title but is even more worthy of the Hall of Fame nod…What makes the book stand out, though, is Iommi’s lack of pretense, his insider perspective and surprising sense of humor in telling classic tales…It’s the rare glimpse into the personal perspective of Iommi that makes Iron Man a must-read for music fans.” Blogcritics.com, 11/1/11”A personal look inside one of the most unique bands of the past 40 years.”
 Library Journal, 11/15/11 “Iommi paints an intimate portrait of his own life from childhood to his most recent musical effort in Heaven & Hell…Readers who enjoyed Joel McIver’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath will be drawn to Iommi’s insider perspective.”
January Magazine, 11/18/11“When it comes to rocker biographies, the 2011 winner is former Black Sabbath lead guitarist, Tony Iommi’s Iron Man. This is the whole package: Iommi is candid, engaging and celebrated and that’s exactly the right combo for this sort of book. Though it’s Iommi’s autobiography, this is also the story of Black Sabbath, one of the most celebrated and seminal rock outfits of all time. And on this journey we take with him we discover that our wildest imaginings about sixties and seventies rock n’ roller behavior were only scratching the service…Iommi is a likable correspondent and you don’t mind spending time in his presence for the duration of the book. If you only buy one rock biography this season, for so many reasons, it should be this one.”
Gibson.com, 11/11/11“[A] must-read…It contains some near-unbelievable stories: drugs, the Mafia, knife fights, Iommi setting fire to Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, killing Virgin mogul Richard Branson’s prize carp fish with Sabbath pyrotechnics, that Spinal Tap-inspiring Stonehenge stage set, even auditioning Michael Bolton as Black Sabbath singer (true!)…and, of course, all the guaranteed craziness you’d expect from a band involving Ozzy Osbourne.”
TheNervousBreakdown.com, 11/12/11“A four hundred page monster of a book, as heavy in places as ‘War Pigs,’ as deep and reflective in others as ‘Planet Caravan.’”
WLKY.com, 11/11/11“In Iron Man, Iommi lays it all bare. Told in an economic, forthright style, the autobiography explores everything one would expect and then some…An enjoyable read and will make a nice holiday gift for the metalheads on your shopping list.”

Rolling Stone, 12/8/11
“There’s good material here.”

Milwaukee Shepherd Express, 11/22/11
Iron Man chronicles a life of ale, drugs and women and a trail of destruction behind every tour.”

Bookviews blog, December 2011
“Fans of the group, Black Sabbath, will enjoy Iron Man.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 12/6/11“Many books have been written about Black Sabbath, but this one comes from the horse's mouth and sheds light on moments only Tonio was privy to…This certainly needs to be read by any Black Sabbath fan.” Bookgasm.com, 12/2/11
“Reveals the man behind the icon, yet still captures Iommi’s humor, intelligence and warmth.”
 The Cleveland Sound, 12/11/11
“Fans will revel in the guitarist’s lucid memory and wicked humor—but casual rock readers will likewise enjoy this tale of one unassuming English kid’s improbable rise into to the pantheon of metal godliness, thanks primarily to Iommi’s fairly objective storytelling, charming prose, and keen sense of the absurd…[Iommi is] a raconteur whose words are as endearing as they are informative.” 

Elmore, January/February 2012
“Iommi dishes on a life of heavy music and even heavier times…Dignified and classy, while still spilling plenty of messy musical beans.”

Guitar World, 12/26/11
“One of the top 15 books of 2011.” Midwest Book Review, January 2012
“[Black Sabbath’s] interactions with other famous music personalities and Tony Iommi's perceptions of the music world make this a 'must' for fans of the group and any collection profiling rock music history."

SLUG, March 2012
“Some obscure gems…It has a rapid-fire ‘quick story’ quality…Tony’s delightfully frank…It’s honest, endearing.”

PowerlineMag.com, 6/8/12“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.”

Hudson Valley News, 1/9/13“A must-read for fans of the heavy metal genre, this memoir is also an inspiring story of a musical group and its leader.”

Meet the Author

Tony Iommi is a cofounding member and lead guitarist of Black Sabbath and is among the most influential guitarists of all time. Born in 1948, he lives in Birmingham, England.

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Iron Man 4.4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 14 reviews.
Jeffrey_Barstone More than 1 year ago
This is a GREAT read. Ninety chapters in 366 pages means Iommi writes kind of like he plays; riff-based. And he riffs great. Short, punchy, page-turning awesomeness. You won't want to put this down if you are at all a fan. There's a thorough history of the genesis of the band from the earliest days when Iommi was in a blues band, his reluctance to join up with Ozzy at first, the story of how Iommi lost his fingertips in an industrial accident on the last day of his factory job. His inspiration to push thru the difficulty of having to relearn the guitar from being introduced to the story and music of Django Reinhardt. There's plenty of stories of coke-and-booze fueled rehearsal and recording sessions, Ozzy madness such as the time he caught a shark from their hotel window and put it in the tub. There's endless practical jokes, mostly played on Bill Ward. Iommi takes you thru all the albums and all the personnel changes both in the band and management as well as those in his personal life. Biggest surprise? Michael Bolton could've ended up in Black Sabbath. This book is packed with amusing and sometimes heartbreaking tales. I was lucky enough to get an early review copy through my job, and this was a thoroughly entertaining read. When this book hits the shelves, RUN, do not walk, to pick up a copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gfhvhhhtg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this biography to be very engaging. The amount of drive this man has is incredible!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this book
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Read it in 2 days.
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